Sunday, September 12, 2010

Seeds & Shadows

How should Christians engage with culture? This is the question that is driving our discussion in the LOST class that I’m teaching (moderating, really) at church. Should we disengage from the nonChristian culture and create our own subculture? Should we fully assimilate into the culture and uncritically make use of new media and art? Should we create a sanctified, copycat version of every hip trend that becomes the latest flavor-of-the-week?

These are vital questions, particularly at a moment in history when Christians are said to be engaged in a Culture War with Secularism on the one hand and embracing a new breed of Hipster Christianity on the other. But did Jesus call us into a war with Secularism? Did he call us to have a faith that is cool and ironic? Maybe he did, but I think there’s a better way.

C.S. Lewis thought of the story of Christianity as the fulfillment of all the great mythologies of paganism. It is where religion has become full grown, he said. Where the myth has become incarnate. If this is true, then all the myths of pagan cultures are seeds and shadows of the gospel, planted there by God himself to provide a way for that culture to understand and to testify to our own culture that his story is the great enfleshment of all pagan myth.

And if that is true, then it is certainly possible that God is still planting seeds within pagan and secular cultures today. Wherever the gospel has not been preached, God is haunting the dreams of the artists and stirring the minds of the philosophers. And if that is true, then Christians should not take an antagonistic stance against culture, but rather engage with the culture redemptively. Our eyes must be open to see the seeds and shadows of the gospel in our culture because it is there that God is about his work of salvation.

This is precisely what I see happening with LOST. Of all the crap on television these days, LOST stands out as a thoughtful examination of what it means to be human, to find forgiveness, and to answer the call to self-sacrifice. It is high-art in a medium that tends to produce low-art and non-art en masse. It’s in places like LOST that Christians can find the seeds and shadows of the gospel for a secular culture, if only we can learn to stop condemning the culture and learn to engage with it redemptively.

1 comment:

Breena Holt said...

I love, "...if only we can learn to stop condemning the culture and learn to engage with it redemptively." That makes my heart happy :)