Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

The Secular Message of American Christianity

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Michael Horton (Christless Christianity, p. 49ff) mentions sociologist Marsha Witten’s analysis of the secularization of American churches (All is Forgiven: The Secular Message in American Protestantism).  Ms. Witten recalls listening to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, when the mail arrived with a promotional flyer for a new church: “Why not get a LIFT instead of a letdown this Sunday?”

Witten uses this juxtaposition — St. Matthew Passion vs. the flyer — to frame the conclusions of her study.  As Horton summarizes:

While the former is fed by a rich sense of God’s majesty, holiness, and mercy, as well as the genuine struggle of faith, the latter is “optimistic, untroubled, purely mundane,” like any other advertisement for a product.  American Christianity today lives in this contradiction between “the spiritual and the psychological, the transcendent and the pragmatic.”

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“Patch Adams” Christianity

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Last night I watched “Patch Adams,” with Robin Williams. Based on a true story, Hunter “Patch” Adams is a passionate doctor-in-training who eschews the cold science of doctorship and seeks to provide true, wholistic care for his patients. While I believe the relationship between the “establishment” and the “rebel” is somewhat overplayed, the clarity of the fight certainly provides good material for thought.

The dean of the medical school sets the stage with his opening remarks:

It is human nature to lie, take shortcuts, to lose your nerve, get tired, make mistakes. No rational patient would put his trust in a human being, and we’re not gonna let him! It is our mission here to rigorously and ruthlessly train the humanity out of you and make you into something better. We’re gonna make doctors out of you.

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