Sunday, January 24, 2016

"The Truth Is Out There": Where We Locate 21st Century Truth

The full moon in the western sky tells me that we're about a month from Christmas.  I remember driving back from Christmas Eve services, and we commented on the gorgeous moon, the awe and the hush, and the sense that an angel choir would not be out of the realms of the possible.

I had just gone to see the new-but-not-unfamiliar Star Wars movie, and here, a month later, we are on the cusp of a relaunched The X-Files.  I've been thinking about these story lines, about ancient Christianity, and what it means for those of us in the 21st century.

In this year in which we will elect a brand new president, no matter who wins, politics is never far away from my mind either.  In the coverage of campaigns, I am struck by those who are certain that their candidate will save us all, that their candidate can do what has not been done before.

I am also thinking of the idea of The Truth--who has access to it, and who is deluded.  I'm thinking of The X-Files as the new Gnosticism.  I never watched the show in its heyday, but my friends did, and thus, I feel like I saw the whole series.

I think of The X-File, Star Wars (the older version and the new one), and political campaigns, and the story line that unites them all:  we see a band of people  who are united in this cause that's larger than themselves, the outlines of which they only dimly perceive.  In many cases, they face very long odds, an almost impossible mission.  And yet, the community they create is one that makes it worthwhile--and in the case of campaign workers, I imagine it will be something that they will miss forever.

I'm also struck by the yearning for a savior--even if the savior ends up being one of them, these are groups that need a savior.  They're not going to find what they need by meditating, by going on solitary retreats, or by going inward in other ways. 

And again, my thoughts return to Christianity of all sorts, from the ancient to the modern.  What can churches learn from the popular culture that surrounds us?  Should we be more vocal in our offerings of what can soothe the yearnings of the 21st century searcher?  Or should we do what we do and assume that people will come to us as they notice us moving in the world?

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