Tuesday, July 14, 2015

in which i un-ironically like something from the Christian subculture

There are a lot of things I like to make fun of / gnash my teeth over in the Christian subcultureperhaps most notably the very existence of a Christian subculture, which carries with it a circled-wagons mentality that inevitably curb-stomps anyone who's really honest about their humanity.

There are also a number of things from that subculture that I quite enjoy. In secret. Half-ironically. Because when you're born into something and marinated in it for all your formative years, you just are that thing, and you like it even though you know it's kind of cheesy and stupid.

But there are also aspects of the Christian subculture that I really, honestly do like.

Take, for example, the music of Rich Mullins. 

Mullins, like me, was uncomfortable with a lot of Christian culture. That didn't stop him from becoming a fully-embraced-Christian-subculture-musical-star... a role he found pretty uncomfortable.

Wikipedia has this to offer as a summary of Rich Mullins' faith, quoting something he said shortly before his untimely death in a car accident in 1997:

"Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you've done it to me. And this is what I've come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they're just wrong. They're not bad, they're just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken-hearted..."

I love that. 

And I love a lot of his music, too. I love it un-ironically not because I think it's the greatest musically (it probably isn't) but because it's honest, and it speaks to me.

This morning I saw a post over at Experimental Theology that reminded me of Mullins' song "creed," which I used to listen to a lot and always loved for its honest simplicity. I looked up "creed" on the youtubes and watched it, and then clicked the sidebar to see a live-concert performance of one of Mullins' other great songs, "Step by Step."

We sang "Step by Step" in my high school youth group, so my gut reaction was to roll my eyes a bit over the dated sappiness of it. But as I listened to Mullins talk about art and God, I felt a little embarrassed over my a priori cynicism. And then he began to play...

I don't know what happened. 
I started to cry. Sob, really. 

And I wanted to know why. 

Why did this move me so much?



Maybe your beliefs are so different than mine that you can watch something like this video and do nothing more than roll your eyes at what you perceive to be the sheep-like naivete of the faithful.

But maybe, like me, you've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by life. Maybe you've been working hard to chase some dream or another, and you've been feeling like no matter what you do, it's never quite enough. Maybe without even knowing it, you've been wanting someone kind and artful and compassionate to tell you that you are good enough and loved enough just as you are. That God loves you in all your messy humanity.

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