(Warning: Some of the video links in this message contain strong language. It’s okay. The Apostle Paul did it, too.)
The teenage years can be confusing and awkward and mine were no exception. I made questionable hairstyle choices – some things never change! – and thought that Ronald Reagan was the Messiah – thankfully some things do change! At the same time I was extolling the virtues of the Star Wars missile defense system in one term paper, I was writing another on anarchism. Just as I was compulsively, voluntarily attending a conservative, suburban, upper-middle class, fundamentalist Baptist church, I was devouring every bit of subversive music and underground literature I could get my hands on.
By the time I reached adolescence, punk rock had officially been declared dead, but the New Wave included some of its descendents, which sent a kid like me looking back into the brief history of it. And to a kid like me, who knew nothing about anything, the Sex Pistols seemed like the real deal. Anarchy was their anthem.
In the song “Anarchy in the U.K.,” Johnny Rotten sneers, “I am an antichrist/I am an anarchist.” He claimed the title of antichrist because he was so bad and dangerous. He was an anarchist! However, he really is antichrist because he’s a joke, a poseur. Or maybe the joke is on me because he cops to it in the song: “How many ways to get what you want/I use the best/I use the rest/I use the N.M.E (New Music Express magazine)/I use Anarchy.” He packages teen angst and political rebellion as a commodity. He’s writing jingles for Anarchy, Inc., and getting rich in the process. For him, anarchy was just a venue for his own vapid self-interest. Jesus, on the other hand, was the real deal.
It has taken me thirty years to resolve the apparent contradiction between my rebellious instincts and my Christian faith. I now know that the Christianity I was taught as a kid was as much a commodity as the music I bought. It propped up the status quo, made the world safe for those who had plenty. But when I read the Bible now, I see a Jesus who fought the status quo. He really was dangerous. He vigorously opposed the Roman Empire. He attacked the familial institutions of the honor/shame culture in which he lived. He called people to the personal transformations that would bring about equality and justice, not because they were compelled to do so, but because their hearts were opened to the people around them. It might be anachronistic to say that Jesus was a utopian anarchist, but I’m not sure it would be wrong.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Church in the Cliff, as we talk about a God who warns us about power and its abuses, a Jesus that attempted to bring down a society, and our calling as Christians to continue that work.
Grace & Peace,
BPFNA Peace Breakfast
Our friend LeDayne McLeese Polaski from the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America is in town in a couple of weeks for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly and is sponsoring a Peace Breakfast. She explains:
We’ll have a keynote address on The Church and Immigration from Jesús Romero, Director of ISAAC, The Immigration Service and Aid Center.
You can register here: http://www.bpfna.org/events/2015/06/18/peace-breakfast-at-the-cbf-general-assembly.1426081