There is this phrase that has been going around for a while that I used to buy into, and that phrase is “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship!”. You have to admit, it’s catchy, it sets Christianity apart from other world views and it’s easy to memorize. But, it simply is not true. At least not according to our cultural english use of the word ‘religion’, defined predominantly as |
- The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods
- Details of belief as taught or discussed
- - when the school first opened they taught only religion, Italian, and mathematics
- A particular system of faith and worship
- - the world’s great religions
- A pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance
- - consumerism is the new religion
Today, it is quite trendy to insist that Christianity is not a religion, “Because after all, Christianity is true!”. Right, I am tracking with my evangelical pals? But to imply that orthodox, biblical Christianity does not meet the criteria above for the sake of making a point about the personal nature of God is simply rhetoric. “Well, (you might be thinking) if Christianity is just another religion, what makes it noteworthy?”
The Difference is that Christianity is the only Religion that meets its own demands.
I would say that I spend a good deal, if not a majority of my time working with, talking to and being around people that are not Christians. Truly enjoyable and intelligent people really, and as diverse as they all are from one another there is one thing that nearly all of my non-Christian friends have the same view on: The Bible. Most non-Christians that I know are not hostile towards the idea of the Bible, but instead see it as a collection of stories with some moral undertone that dictates how one should live their life.
And I would argue that most non-Christians believe that the main difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is whether or not a person chooses to follow the rules laid out in this Judeo-Christian version of Aesop’s Fables. And I see this same pattern with some Christians that I know, they see the bible as this rule book that God wants them to follow to make sure that they will be good enough to make it into heaven. I just recently had a conversation with a friend who is pondering such things, and they said to me “I’m really not into the bible, I’m more of a big-picture kind of person”.
But on the contrary to the typical American religious thought, the bible is THE big-picture book! My friend, like many of you, had been told bible stories about these really moral, upright people and been required to memorize out of context bible verses about being good. But Jesus (in the very same Bible) tells us the polar opposite, he says to the religious bible scholars of his day|
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:38-39)
Jesus here is says that the bible is not a self-help book that will teach you to “get into heaven in 6 easy steps”, but instead, it is a big story about Jesus. Later, after Jesus’ resurrection actually teaches how the entire bible is really about Jesus. Continue reading
As I write this, I am counting the seconds until the new Wilco album gets it’s American release (Only hours away!!!! And I have my vinyl on pre-order) and to get you in the mood, in case you missed it, here is Tweedy & the gang’s performance of “Born Alone”. Enjoy the new sound, I sure am.
A midwestern fall is an idyllic season, with much needed relief from the summer heat & humidity, trees in transition and corn to be harvested. It’s a season that should be accompanied with a carefully selected soundtrack. For me, last year it was Fleet Foxes and Simon & Garkfunkle, this year I’m getting my iPod playlists stocked with music new and old to go with this great time of year. Here’s a sample of what I’ll be listening to this year as the leaves change.
Wilco – ‘I Might’
I doubt if there are two words in music that get me more excited than “new Wilco”. Because that doesn’t mean another formulaic ‘i’ve-heard-this-same-album-a-thousand-times” release, it means a new sound by one of the most dynamic and talented bands of the last few decades. And from what I have heard of the new release (due out at the end of the month) this album is going to be like none of the others.
Chris Thile & Michael Daves – ‘Sleep With One Eye Open’
Fall always seemed to be an ‘old timey’ season, the leaves give the landscape a sepia tone and there’s nothing like some good (new) old-timey music on a chilly fall afternoon. With Thile’s virtuoso mandolin playing and Daves’ high and lonesome voice the duo’s 2011 collaboration is perfect for the upcoming autumn.
A.A. Bondy – ‘Believers’
One of my most recent musical discoveries was the lyrically profound and perpetually melancholy voice of A.A Bondy. This summer I went back and spent some time in his second album “American Hearts”, and with a new album due out within the next few weeks, Bondy’s due to give Iron & Wine and Fleet Foxes a run for their money in the “sad-indie-acoustic-with-good-lyrics” category.
If you checked Paste Magazine‘s homepage today you probably had the graphic above staring you in the face. I was instantly interested and the article is right down my alley. This is a fantastic piece written by a Christian for a wide audience, and the fantastic thing that is done in the article is build bridges between the artistic community and faith community, exemplified in Sufjan Stevens brilliant, brilliant quote |
“If you are an artist of faith, then you have the responsibility to manage the principles of your faith wisely lest they be reduced to stereotype, which is patronizing to the church and to the world, and, perhaps, to God.”
This article is a MUST READ for anyone looking to understand the relationship Christians and the arts community can have, whether you are a Christian, part of the arts community or in just one. Personally, this is a hopeful publication because it shows two worlds that I love (but usually don’t love each other) bridging a gap that, at times, looks unbridgeable.
Read the entire article here or go to Paste.com