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Cowardice and the Culture Whores
*If this article resembles any particular organization, denominational entity, or a certain weird-bearded college professor, then they should be ashamed of themselves.
*Culture Whores should not be confused with those who just give it away. Whereas the latter just turns tail, the former always turns a profit.
“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.” 1 Corinthians 6:15-16
“The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.” Psalm 78:9
The savage wit of Ambrose Bierce has quite a bit to teach us victims of the cultural tempest in our particular little post-post-modern teapot. In his Devil's Dictionary he left us a short little edifying story under his definition of "valor":
Why have you halted?" roared the commander of a division at Chickamauga, who had ordered a charge; "move forward, sir, at once."
"General," said the commander of the delinquent brigade, "I am persuaded that any further display of valor by my troops will bring them into collision with the enemy.
This kind of thing can happen for two reasons. First, the troops may be more than a little sympathetic with the adversary. They don't want to fight when they could be friends. Or, second, there may be true antipathy—but it is mingled with cowardice. David's brothers didn't like Goliath, but they didn’t want to actually go out there either. It’s far easier just to sit around eating cheese and chiding your younger brother whom you accuse of having come down just to watch the big boys fight.
Theological liberals and moderates in our midst don't like the antithesis and don't want a fight. For the purposes of definition here, by "moderates" I mean "liberals" who are confused enough to think they are toeing the line of orthodoxy. In reality, they share the same mistress, but with enough discretion to use different hotels.
Just as conservative Republicans today are far to the left of the Democrats of fifty years ago, so contemporary moderates are to the left of the theological liberals of forty years ago—and all done with the kind of serene ignorance that would make the Buddha envious. These gurus expend their energies trying to make the Church relevant to the world by making the Church a third-rate copy of that world. Their motto being: “Whatever the world can do, we can do—worse and five years later.”
At any rate, this relevancy gambit is taken up by all those who want to simp for the zeitgeist by pimping out the Bride of Christ, although they usually prefer different verbs like “dialoging” and “contextualizing” and “redeeming”. And whenever you hear the word relevance used in any religious discussions, prepare for the most astounding irrelevance to follow hard.
But then there are those who don't like the bad guys—David's brothers—so they stand over on the Israelite side of the line, slicing at the air with their swords. They do have enough valor to shout back at Goliath, something witty along the lines of "Oh, yeah?" But any display of valor beyond that would bring them into a collision with the enemy.
I know that many will think that this is an overgeneralization, naming many individuals and organizations that are out there valiantly “fighting the good fight.” But this reputation for heroism is largely undeserved. We are generally so cowardly that we consider yelling PG-13 level obscenities in the general direction of the giant Bronze Star courage. And so the armor continues to sit in Saul's tent, with no one to wear it.
Maybe we should try it on. Who knows? It may actually be the right size.
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