Friday, January 30, 2015

"The disease of the self runs through my blood"

For our traditio today we stay in the realm of contemporary Christian music (CCM). There is perhaps no genre of music that is more pilloried than that of contemporary Christian. Given the vastness of CCM and some of the really terrible tunes it produces, this is understandable. But then isn't that true of virtually any genre of music? People are often fond of pointing to an episode of King of the Hill ("Reborn to be Wild") in which Hank Hill, confronts a "totally rad" guitarist for a local Christian rock group, observing: "Can't you see you're not making Christianity better, you're just making rock and roll worse?" It's a funny episode and a great line, one that made me laugh when I watched it. However, it is not an undercutting argument against CCM in its entirety. In fact, this is not even the point the episode seeks to make, really.

What Mike Judge, a very wry cultural commentator and the creator and force behind King of the Hill (also Beavis and Butthead) really took aim at was something Andrew Root addressed in a recent article for Christianity Today, "Why Your Millennial Outreach Needs a Bit of Bonhoeffer: Millennial anxiety sabotages attempts to engage the next generation. Dietrich explains why."
Bonhoeffer said youth ministry is first and foremost a theological task. It is not a sociological or cultural task or a church growth strategy. Of course, there are sociological and cultural factors to consider when ministering to youth. But Bonhoeffer would argue that youth ministry is first and foremost about the encounter of the divine with the human.

Again, who could disagree? Except that youth ministry today often puts theology on a back burner. Youth ministry in North America became full blown after a youth consumer culture emerged in the 1950s, and took shape in response to the mid-’60s youth countercultural movement. The binding of the counterculture youth movement with a consumer society (see Thomas Frank’s book The Conquest of Cool) has embedded a “youthful spirit” deep within our cultural consciousness
Being a Christian is about nothing apart from being a disciple of Jesus Christ, that is, someone who endeavors to live in communion with Him and form his/her being by trying live life according His teachings, no matter if you are 15 or 95. In the First Letter of John we read: "If we say, 'We have fellowship with him,' while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin" (1:6-7).

While the DC Talk version of this song may be more familiar to those acquainted with CCM, Charlie Peacock, one of my favorite Christian music artists, wrote the song and our traditio is him performing it brilliantly:

Charlie was also featured in a previous Καθολικός διάκονος Friday traditio- "Living in front of God."

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