As we celebrate Easter 2012 can we imagine new forms of Christian community that embody a very different notion of the good life than the one promoted by the global mall?

{Here is an exchange from last week’s blog.  Please join the conversation with your candid comments and strong hopes!!!}  Expand –

Tom,

For me I endorse all you are saying – and my main concern regarding applying scripture is that it is interpreted and therefore applied from an inherited cultural lens. Therefore even the most committed disciple may find themselves simply reinforcing the historic ‘christian’ mindset by virtue of only inheriting and accepting an historical application of the scriptures.

I am with you and all for remaining a counter culture birthed from Kingdom values. A round table discussion would be good – why not issue the summons through MSA. And everyone who wants to participate pays their way, receives no financial return and contributes to the per drum costs of food etc. That is a counter cultural Christian get together!

My main challenge is how to live in a capitalist economy, address the issues of calling and finding enough resource to eat etc. Some dialogue on alternative, counter cultural economic models is also essential.

Take care.

The Friar- Dr Micha Jazz is a contemporary friar with The Contemplative Network.

Mike,

I am sure we are very much on the same page on these important issues. One of the reasons I believe we tend to interpret scripture though our “inherited cultural lense” is that we rarely ask questions of scripture that forces us to critically examine those lenses.

For example, when I was in the UK a couple of years ago a twenty year old responded to my question, “have you considered living in a Christian community?” His response was “I am not wired that way. I am wired for autonomy.” I responded, “would you be willing to examine whether it is a matter of “wiring” or being a part of a Eurocentric view of what is important and is of value culturally in the UK?” I also asked if he would be willing to join others in using scripture to examine the cultural notions of the good life with a biblical view of the good life? His response to both questions was simply “no.”

Mike, I don’t know what your experience is but I have never been a part of a bible study group in America that every brings scripture to focus on taking a candid look at our cultural values and our “inherited cultural lense.” My concern is not only about “a false self” but also “false cultural values” that tend to define for all of us what is important and what is of value…like our love affair with autonomy and individualism.

Your right, central to our cultural view of what is important and is of value are largely shaped for many of us by the neo-liberal values of the capitalist global economy. This global economy tends to define the ultimate in human experience almost exclusively in economic terms. Unfortunately too many followers of Jesus tend to join this parade defining the good life largely in terms of the economic achievement of “more” and raising their young primarily for economic success not servanthood.

The problem is that it is exceeding difficult to imagine a viable alternative to the present global economic order even though it is exceeding volatile right now. Having said that it is important for followers of Jesus to find ways to participate in this economy without succumbing to values that go with it. But I find little effort among Christians in North America to compare notions of what the Global Mall defines as important and of value with biblical understandings of what is important and what is of value not only spiritually and morally but culturally too.

What I am beginning to see that provides some hope is the Transition Town Movement began in Bristol and the creation of local sustainable ventures in North America that are local economic and agricultural al ventures that aren’t dependent on the global economy and are based on a different set of values. Check out Yes! Magazine for some articles on these new local economic and environmental initiatives.

Mike, if you know any groups who are bringing scripture to bare on our “inherited cultural lenses” and the values of the global mall and the values of the American Idol pop cultural influences please send them our way. We would love to be able to share them.

Cheers mate and a blessed Easter!
tom sine