Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Social Evolution and the Church

One of the most prominent distinctives of 21th century American culture is our rugged individualism. Our relative wealth and political freedom has given us the luxury of having to rely little on others. Give me a cell phone and a Visa card and I can accomplish the impossible! This attitude has permeated nearly every aspect of American life, the church being no exception.

As a result we have stratified our social interactions. We have our church friends, our work friends, friends from the gym, and friends from our children's activities. Then it seems we try as much as possible to segregate each group. Our lives are arranged around our life's "programs", and we dare not try to mix them. Why is this so?

This paradigm for social interaction and daily living stands in stark contrast to 1st century Palestine. The cultural fabric of that time was interwoven; religious life, rather in Judaism or early Christianity was integrated with secular life. We see a history of interdependence, not independence. Community was vital as opposed to optional.

Do we as a society embrace our social evolution or do we just accept it? What effect does this have on the Church? Should we try to change anything? If so, what?

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