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White Horse Inn: Conversational Theology

Post-Christian

Today’s post-Christian culture is running into dead ends and fatal contradictions. For example, many people today believe that gender is a matter of subjective preference rather than objective biological considerations. But can we apply this idea to a person’s age? Can a man identify as a 15-year-old boy when he’s really 50? Shane Rosenthal recently asked people on the street what they thought about this and other related issues, and he discusses their answers with special guest, Gene Veith, author of Post-Christian: A Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture. 

To watch a video of the man-on-the-street segment, click here.


Show Quote

“A lot of things have happened since 1994. Some of the things that were just starting back in the 90’s have now blossomed and grown and become exaggerated into strange new shapes. Back then, people were talking about how we create our own realities. Now, with our technology, we’re in a realm of “virtual reality.” That’s the term used for it where, in a way, we really do inhabit, a lot of people do inhabit a reality completely made-up by that technology. A lot of the ideas in Post-Modern Times have changed and morphed into different kinds of forms and, in some cases, almost self-destructing. One of the themes of this new book is how a lot of the bad ideas I talked about back then, and they are so evident, obviously, are running into dead-ends and self-contradictions. A lot of these contradictions give space for recovering a Christian view of things.”

Gene Veith

Term to Learn

“Church as Counter-Culture”

Cultures enact and uphold certain ritual practices that act as liturgical formations of identity through imaginative means. Such ritual forces of culture are not satisfied with being merely mundane; embedded in them is a sense of what ultimately matters (compare Phil. 1:10). ‘Secular’ liturgies are fundamentally formative, and implicit in them is a vision of the kingdom that needs to be discerned and evaluated. From the perspective of Christian faith, these secular liturgies will often constitute mis-formation of our desires – aiming our heart away from the Creator to some aspect of the creation as if it were God. Secular liturgies capture our hearts by capturing our imaginations and drawing us into ritual practices that ‘teach’ us to love something very different from the kingdom of God.

By the same token, Christian worship needs to be intentionally liturgical, formative, and pedagogical in order to counter such mis-formation and misdirections. While the practices of Christian worship are best understood as the restoration of an original, creational desire for God, practically speaking, Christian worship functions as a counter-reformation to the mis-formation of secular liturgies into which we are ‘thrown’ from an early age. We must learn to consider Christian education (and worship) as a counter-pedagogy of desire.

(Adapted from James K.A. Smith, “Love Takes Practice” in Desiring the Kingdom, pp. 88)