CNN Online has an article about Kenda Creasy Dean’s new book Almost Christianity…
If you’re the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:
Your child is following a “mutant” form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.
Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Translation: It’s a watered-down faith that portrays God as a “divine therapist” whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.
Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of “Almost Christian,” a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.
She says this “imposter” faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.
“If this is the God they’re seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust,” Dean says. “Churches don’t give them enough to be passionate about.”
Be sure to read the whole thing here.
I am hesitant to call someone a ‘fake’ christian, if they haven’t made some kind of public sort of renunciation of their inherited faith. This is, however, something different.
In Brett McCracken’s 2009 book Hipster Christianity, he argues that Mega-Church Comfort Christianity offers nothing compelling. He also argues that “Family-values” lock yourself in your Christianity entertainment bubble is no longer persuasive, and young creative evangelicals are more interested in the risk of engaging the culture, even at times on the culture’s terms. Allegedly, Hipster Christians are supposed to have a vivid interest in Catholic things.
In Ross Douthat’s recent book Bad Religion, he gives a vivid description of common heresies that are more prevalent than orthodoxy, and makes a good case at comparing the phenomena of Oprah book club spirituality and Joel Osteen Prosperity Gospel Christianity.
Anyways, what puts brings many of these things together is the very fact that Christianity has gone two routes: one is the Family-Values Bubble, and the other is so watered down that it is hard to say that there is anything Christian about it. What is at the root of these is the irrational quest for a safe sort of Christianity. On one hand, one believes mainstream culture is irreconcilable to the faith, and therefore we must create our alternative universe with the family-values knock-off of mainstream music, movies, cartoons, clothing, and even bubble gum. The other side believes Christianity is so absolutely reconcilable, if not absolutely subservient to cultural norms, that the compelling and radical prophetic dimensions of Christianity are completely negated. Thus we have comfort Christianity, thus we have prosperity Gospel, thus we have all kinds of perversions of the Historical Christianity which has been timelessly been compelling in every age.
The sense I get from many of the young Catholics on tumblr is this, we got sick of being ‘lukewarm’ cowardly Christians. We were pressured to compromise on our faith convictions, but we are also not interested on broad-brushing all in mainstream culture (music, movies etc) has somehow the tool of Satan.
The article suggests that parents have an important role to play. At about the time I was 17, I was tired of my parents watering down, which had only increased over the years. I get the sense that there are a lot of young Catholics who want something deeper, a real tangible and palpable spirituality and passion faith expression that does not dichotomize religion, tradition, prayer, and/or spirituality.
There is still something so intrinsically and almost irrationally attractive about the great Martyrs and Saints who suffered greatly. As the article suggests, we want steak and potatoes, and they kept giving us cake. We wanted bones and blood, and they kept giving us felt and coloring books. We wanted to turn the world upside down, and exult the poor over the rich. We wanted to prostrate ourselves before God’s magnificence instead of clapping to upbeat songs all the time.
So the watered-down comfort Christianity that many of us inherited is not attractive. Christianity did not become attractive until we saw a wild and untamed Jesus turning tables in the temple, and calling the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and even being so bold as to dine with the sinner, while actually challenging them to SIN NO MORE!
Anyways, I will stop there, for now!