Thursday, May 29, 2008

Christian Wrestling... Really?

...there are rip-off trinkets of every kind—a Christian version of My Little Pony and the mood ring and the boardwalk T-shirt ("Friends don't let friends go to hell"). There is Christian Harlequin and Christian chick lit and Bibleman, hero of spiritual warfare. There are Christian raves and Christian rappers and Christian techno, which is somehow more Christian even though there are no words. There are Christian comedians who put on a Christian version of Punk'd, called Prank 3:16. There are Christian sex-advice sites where you can read the biblical case for a strap-on dildo or bondage (liberation through submission). There's a Christian planetarium, telling you the true age of the universe, and my personal favorite—Christian professional wrestling, where, by the last round, "Outlaw" Todd Zane sees the beauty of salvation.
Slate has an interesting book review about an even more intriguing book, Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh. The book seems like a good read, but it was the discussion of this topic by the book reviewer, Hanna Rosin, that caught my attention.

The book itself is about the paradox of Christian Consumerism, the attempt to mix materialism with spiritualism. At the beginning of the article, Rosin points to an example from her past of the hypocrisy of a group of "evangelical college boys" she knew who regularly watched (and enjoyed) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She points to the fact that Christians have a "deeply neurotic relationship with popular culture."

She then makes a keen observation:
At this point in history, American evangelicals resemble the Israelites at various dangerous moments in the Old Testament: They are blending into the surrounding heathen culture, and having ever more trouble figuring out where it ends and they begin.

"American evangelicals resemble the Israelites"? Wow. I'm not sure that most evangelicals know enough about the Old Testament to make this distinction. Regardless, I think that Rosin is on to something. Among many other admonitions from the Prophets, I am reminded of what God said to Samuel when the people of Israel demanded a king instead of a judge:
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations." But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them."[1 Samuel 8:4-9], emphasis added

The rest of the article is great food for thought. There are probably 20 places I'd like to quote here, but I'll spare you all the superfluous formatting. I highly recommend you check it out. I'm going to keep an eye out for Radosh's book.

How do you feel about the blurring of the line between what is "worldly" and "spiritual"? Where exactly is the line?

More importantly, how should we as Christians fight and/or embrace the culture around us?