Jump to content

American Christianity Versus Christianity - If So


snookums
 Share

Recommended Posts

American Christianity != Christianity

 

Hacker turned theologian Simon Cozens puts forward an argument that the belief system known as "Christianity" in America is not Christianity. By which he means not that is a weird form of Christianity, or even that it is heretical or flawed, but, quite literally, that it is a completely different, unrelated, belief system that happens to have the same name:

 

The situation only makes sense if you consider a separate entity called "American Christianity" which is an entirely separate religion to Christianity. Not a branch of Christianity, not a form of Christianity, but something with absolutely no connection to Christianity at all. It's a separate religion. And what is the goal of this religion?

look at it phenomenologically, look at it sociologically, and what do you see? Basically a syncretic folk religion, based primarily on American nationalism, an expression of the "pervasive religious dimension of American political life". (Bellah; see also "Civil Religion in America") Its purposes are basically civil and political. Its morality is taken from a highly selective and individualistic reading of the Old Testament, and it mixes in bits of consumerism, Zionism, Republican political values, and corporatism for good measure. Add to this an almost romantic sentimentality concerning the person of Jesus, much like the contribution of Catholicism to Vodou religions, and suddenly it all makes sense.

 

It seems they’ve taken the goriest bits from the Old Testament, added the Book of Revelations and a smattering of very Aryan and militaristic visual images of Jesus, and purport to call it Christianity. Missing completely is the Four Gospels, as Christ Himself in word and deed is far too radical for them to tolerate. It’s Christianity without Christ. I’d compare it to Satanism, except that would be too much of an insult to the good people who worship the Dark Lord.

 

read more here...http://blog.simon-cozens.org/post/view/1113?comments=1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah yes, the old "they're not Real True Christians" argument. Gotta love the classics. :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The black and white nature of your claim strikes me as problematic on a logical level, as do many black and white claims. To assert that the American version of Christianity does not reflect the true version of Christianity is to make two assumptions that need major backing: 1) that American Christianity can be reduced into a uniform version and 2) that a true version of Christianity even exists, both of which are subject to a load of criticisms. Regarding number one, for instance, reducing American Christianity into a singular, quintessential form seems to be unfeasible considering the great amount of variety, contrasts, and incompatibilities within American Christianity as a whole. Granted, many expressions of Christianity in America share the political elements that you mentioned, but many simply do not; in fact, I would argue that enough do not share these political elements to invalidate the notion that Christianity in American can be reduced to a singular, representative form. Regarding number 2, for instance, how does one define and dogmatize the true version of Christianity...why does European Christianity contain more accuracy than American Christianity? What categorical criteria does one employ to judge and determine the real and authentic expression of Christianity? Until one is able to answer these kinds of questions, the notion of a bonafide version of Christianity must remain hopelessly elusive. And even if one was able, by some rationale feat, to delineate the one, true form of Christianity, American forms of Christainity, in all their variety, certainly would not differ from this perfect form completely and totally. Surely, some parts of Christianity in American would conform and reflect this supposed, perfect form. All that being said, this claim is specious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This German has to say that to him indeed US christianity seems to have exactly one thing in common with the christianity he experienced in his youth... the name.

 

The whole US thing is so incredibly arrogant, hateful, we're-True-Christians™-so-we-are-allowed-to-do-everything, it boggles the mind.

 

Which is, as far as I can tell, exactly why most people over here, if pointed to the monstrosity of the US jebus cult, just cannot believe it. It's not that we don't know variation in the christian religion... but that is simply too alien to most of us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because religion, where ever it exists, is used as a tool to brainwash the masses into carrying out the will of that country's leaders?

The US was a unique circumstance: native, manifest destiny, revolt against imperialism to set up its own imperialism, etc. So it only follows the religous message would be different.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not that familiar with any flavor of christianity other than American.

 

But, one thing is remarkable about the religion here in the U.S.

 

Commercialism. Money. Everyone who makes their living off of christianity (from authors to televangelists to preachers) here is highly skilled in promoting the generosity of believers and extracting their alms via guilt.

 

Give to God. (read - give to ME). God owns it all anyway. Don't withhold on Jesus.

 

Good ol' Malachi. A curse on those and their children who hold out on God.

 

Rewards await those who cough up their paychecks in this life.

 

Christianity here is big, big business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christianity here is big, big business.

...and subsidized by the government in the form of undeserved and unjustifiable tax advantages :vent:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christianity here is big, big business.

 

Very true. It's really an industry here, but it's just not regulated like one because then people like us could actually sue churches for false advertising and force them to prove in court whether their god exists and of course, they'd lose. Then the vast majority of people would deconvert, and we can't have that, now can we? :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christianity here is big, big business.

...and subsidized by the government in the form of undeserved and unjustifiable tax advantages :vent:

 

Amen. Preach on, brother...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another aspect that may be uniquely american is the "personal relationship" angle.

 

It's not enough to just follow all the rules in the bible. Americans add one more. You must have a personal relationship. You gotta be best buds with Jesus himself. Otherwise, you better wonder whether or not you're even really saved.

 

Americans are extremely "me" oriented and self-centered. This idea that you're best friends with Jesus just plays right into it.

 

I bet some euros have a good chuckle when they look at some of the downright goofiness over here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bet some euros have a good chuckle when they look at some of the downright goofiness over here.

 

Sometimes I chuckle, yes. When the topic isn't too sad and serious. :Hmm:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if what the world sees of Christianity here is the most vocal and active elements of the faith? There are those who call this odd blending of Christian and civil religious zealotry "Christianism". I think that term is very good. Like the element of Islam that becomes the face of the religion to the world, the Islamists, I think we should call Dobson, Bush, and pals "Christianists".

 

Behind their "faith" are political agendas. Whether it's the Taliban or the Religious Right in this country, the only difference is the measures to which their waged wars take. The Christianists here have waged war against culture and humanity, just as the Islamists have, but they haven't gone down the road of flying planes into buildings to make their point. But in all honesty, were our government as weak and ineffective as those in the Middle East, that flavor of war would soon hatch from them too. I have little doubt of that.

 

I guess the "good" news is that realistically the majority of Christians in this country are not Christianists, just as the majority of Muslims are not Islamists. In the twin cities here a couple months back one pastor of a mega-church stood up in front of his congregation in a series of 6 sermons pushing back against the blending of the Christian faith with Republican politics and those who constantly approached him to use the church as a vehicle to promote anti-gay rallies in the church vestibule, announce Republican candidates from the pulpit, hand out pro-life literature in the church etc.

 

Here's what happened, the most vocal and active Christianists in his congregation called him things like being "soft" on issues of morality, not supporting what "God" valued in society, etc. 1000 people left the church he pastored. But here's the encouraging news: 4000 people remained and were sighing relief that something was finally said about this. They see that their faith should rise above any and all political issues and be a thing unto itself. They feel that this face of their religion does not reflect their faith.

 

I wonder if this most vocal and active face of Christianity in America is what the rest of the world sees when it looks at us? Hell, it's even hard for me to see any other face of Christianity, though I know it's there somewhere. I hear it's there, but I rarely see it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if what the world sees of Christianity here is the most vocal and active elements of the faith? There are those who call this odd blending of Christian and civil religious zealotry "Christianism". I think that term is very good. Like the element of Islam that becomes the face of the religion to the world, the Islamists, I think we should call Dobson, Bush, and pals "Christianists". <snip>

 

Thank you Antlerman, thank you..... for the whole post. Every word of it connected with me. I am actively involved in a mainstream church. Christians I know find the Bush brand of Christianity very disturbing.

 

Even with my involvement in a mainstream church and my affilliation with more moderate and liberal Christians, I too wonder what the actual statistics are. Is it a vocal minority - or are the right-wing zealots in the majority. :shrug:

 

My heart and gut tell me they are a vocal minority. I keep going with the interfaith work I'm involved in, because unless moderates and liberals of all faith traditions do the work (of peace-building) the right-wing zealots (of all the major world religions) will continue to wreck havoc in our world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

:)Snookums... Thank You! :thanks:

 

I might add, it seems to me, the skew of these ideas started way before the US corrupted and commercialized the philosophy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed the braindead morontheists may well be the minority (though I guess compared to other mostly christian countries you've got frighteningly many of them...), and indeed I guess many moderate/liberal christians aren't happy with them. The sad thing is, as happens so often in these cases, that the reasonable people don't do enough.

 

Compare to what I recently wrote here in the thread about the future US possibly becoming a dictatorship. You've got quite an arsenal of weapons in your constitution et cetera against such a thing happening... but the weapons have to be used. If people are too apathetic (or don't even know the weapons exist) you're fucked big time.

 

See also the election results (inasmuch as they weren't faked that is). If I get it right there's a (although somewhat slim?) majority of reasonable people in your country. Yet shrubbenführer is still in power. 'nuff said. :Hmm:

 

"Hundreds of thousands of people sigh 'One man alone can't change anything'... :banghead:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed the braindead morontheists may well be the minority (though I guess compared to other mostly christian countries you've got frighteningly many of them...), and indeed I guess many moderate/liberal christians aren't happy with them. The sad thing is, as happens so often in these cases, that the reasonable people don't do enough.

 

Compare to what I recently wrote here in the thread about the future US possibly becoming a dictatorship. You've got quite an arsenal of weapons in your constitution et cetera against such a thing happening... but the weapons have to be used. If people are too apathetic (or don't even know the weapons exist) you're fucked big time.

 

See also the election results (inasmuch as they weren't faked that is). If I get it right there's a (although somewhat slim?) majority of reasonable people in your country. Yet shrubbenführer is still in power. 'nuff said. :Hmm:

 

"Hundreds of thousands of people sigh 'One man alone can't change anything'... :banghead:

There are two things going on in this country. You have the mainstream society in a large cyclical swing towards conservatism after a large swing the other direction in the 60's. It will bring itself back in towards the center again in due time. I have little doubt you're going to see a changing of the guard in the next elections, then society will slowly push the big center bulge back into equilibrium again.

 

Second thing going on is the mainstream Christian faith itself struggling to find relevance in a post-modern world in the industrialized nations. Fundamentalism on the rise is symptomatic of this implosion of the middle that's been going on. Many people going to fundamentalist churches are doing so as there is no other home to go to, so to speak. They are marketing themselves now as community centers in these mega churches, little mini-cities with day care, etc. They blend in to this home, but ultimately they are not hard-core freaks like Dobson, etc.

 

As other forms of spirituality become embraced by the center of society, or mainstream Christianity finds a relevant voice to a modern society, fundamentalist numbers will again begin to become depleted. It's all part of a long swing as religion learns to adapt itself to the infusion of Western philosophies and alternative religious options in society.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As other forms of spirituality become embraced by the center of society, or mainstream Christianity finds a relevant voice to a modern society, fundamentalist numbers will again begin to become depleted. It's all part of a long swing as religion learns to adapt itself to the infusion of Western philosophies and alternative religious options in society.

 

Antlerman, why must you always make so much damn sense? :nono:

 

 

 

Thanx for that well-reasoned observation - I hadn't exactly thought of it in those terms, but you're absolutely right. Makes me feel a little more hopeful for this poor, oft-abused democracy we've got.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Antlerman, why must you always make so much damn sense? :nono:

 

 

 

Thanx for that well-reasoned observation - I hadn't exactly thought of it in those terms, but you're absolutely right. Makes me feel a little more hopeful for this poor, oft-abused democracy we've got.

Thanks, I appreciate it. I love looking at these things like it's a giant, living organism that is constantly adjusting itself to the environment. We are all members of the blob which has a huge bulge in the middle and these edges on the extremities that "feel" its way across the landscape. The edges create conversations in the middle about what's "out there", where it debates and considers which direction to move as a whole.

 

The edges are the extreme liberals, and the extreme conservatives. The middle is largely very much the same with some leanings left, and some leanings right. As the middle agrees on what direction to move, the edges move out to new territory, and the conversation in the middle moves on to the next topic.

 

This is why I am so opposed to notions of absolutes, BTW. It halts dialog. It halts movement. It kills the living organism through imobilizing it.

 

Now with that little look into my brain, do you think I'm weird now?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now with that little look into my brain, do you think I'm weird now?

 

 

Yep. :mellow:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But weird is good! :grin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't buy that one. Christianity around the world is being spread by American missionaries, so it can be said that most Christians around the world practice American Christianity. Particularly countries were the religion is new, like Asia. Europe is a different story.

 

I know I became a Christian in Latin America at a church founded and pastored by Americans. And here in Canada, there are lots of American pastors, since the secular Canadian society is just not producing enough pastors.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah....I kinda agree with that Lorena....Xianity is spread mostly around the world by american's......but that's what makes it 'different'.

It has the most resources...$

& its very much connected with the old 'change the world' - to make the world part of the USA kinda mode of thought.

Its very nationalistic as well.....to me very similar to what the politican's over recent history have made their quest......

that is to spread democracy - the American brand of it, that is, around the globe.

 

its very prolific - seems to be attracted to spreading the 'word' to communist type countries......that don't agree with the US political stance. ie. china, korea.....and russia & eastern europe.

 

Funny bout that... :HaHa:

 

As well as being around the Seven Day Adventist.....(all american) I've also had a 'hit' of the old school British Penticostal - ie. with that British Isreal theory thang.

 

I don't know whats worse?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.