Channel:
Culture

“The only way to change culture is to create culture.” -Andy Crouch

 
 
 
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QIdeas.org
Religious Freedom and the Common Good
by Andy Crouch
Finding Common Ground
by Dee Allsop
Real Not Retouched
by Sarah Dubbeldam
Freedom Through Constraint by Julie Rodgers
This Q Talk brings new perspective to the debate over how Christians ought to engage important questions of sexual identity, homosexual practice and the church's role. As a Christian lesbian, Julie Rodgers challenges us to consider how self-denial can lead to flourishing. Julie serves on staff at Wheaton College, writes, speaks and blogs about homosexuality, the Christian faith, celibacy and community alongside friends on the Spiritual Friendship blog.
by Dale Kuehne More

Today {February 1} is the first day in the Presidential selection process. The voters of Iowa gather for their celebrated first in the nation caucuses. Yet it seems that tonight’s results will only generate excitement if they yield something genuinely unexpected, since both the Media and the Public presume that they already know most of what will happen.

The obituaries and the laments for most of candidates have already been written and sit in the editor’s box awaiting approval for tomorrow’s edition.

The epitaphs for the has-been candidates who will fall short tonight will be published tomorrow and will largely go unread, because the funerals of these candidates actually occurred last year. The ministering prophets of our age—public opinion pollsters—have already told us which candidates will win, who is on life-support, and who needs a proper burial.

This is reality TV at its finest. It is the 2016 version of the reality TV drama: Coronation and it is playing on every network. Coronation is the political version of Survivor, or the Bachelor without unnecessary suspense concerning the outcome. Pollsters have given TV producers, writers, and director’s all the demographic data they need to write a script for a show. What’s better, the actors come free.

All this has been done before a vote has been cast. Like Extreme Makeover, Coronation travels the country. Tonight Iowa, next week New Hampshire, then Nevada, South Carolina and finally a state near you.

All of this before a vote is cast.

You may well expect that I will now direct my wrath toward politicians, political parties, Political Action Committees (PAC), Super PACS, Supreme Court decisions, etc.

No.

Certainly I will condemn the public opinion pollsters who have become so adept at polling that they have rendered the process of voting useless?

No.

Who then is to be indicted?

Those who have allowed the public opinion pollsters to become the ministering prophets of their lives and who have become determined to live according to the pronouncements of the new prophets.

You, me, and millions of other Americans will be indicted for dereliction of citizenship because if we vote, we will vote not for the candidate of our choice based on their ideas, their character, or vision for our country. Rather we will vote for a candidate based their popularity as determined by a majority of our fellow Americans who are making their decisions based on what a majority of their fellow Americans believe according to the polls based on our beliefs of a majority of Americans. We will stick to our convictions only as we have the support of the polls to back them up. If the polls change so will we.

All of this has been determined before a single vote has been cast.

Tragically we have allowed our lives and the affairs of state to become a caricature of “reality TV.” Alexis de Tocqueville predicted as much in 1840 in his 2 volume Democracy in America. In it, Tocqueville writes the following about the future of democracy in America.

“It may be foreseen that faith in public opinion will become a species of religion there, and the majority its ministering prophet.”

How could he have known us so well, gazing from such a historical distance?

A French aristocrat, Tocqueville was a keen student of religion, history, and politics. His writings reveal that he believed Democracy as a form of government would sweep the world. In 1831 he came to America to study democracy and consider its future. He became persuaded that the single idea at was changing the world was the idea of equality. He believed that it was Christianity that introduced it to the world in an irresistible sense. Once a culture believed that everyone is made in the image of God, and that salvation was available to everyone, the inequality on which the world used to be based, and on which the reign of Kings and Queens was predicated would one day cease. Once people believed that it was possible for someone to be born an impoverished orphan and end life having the world bow before you as Pope, Tocqueville believed democracy was inevitable. Belief in equality demands democracy.

But, Tocqueville also believed democracy was fragile and contained the seeds of its own destruction. For democracy to succeed, its citizens needed to develop the capacity to govern themselves. Citizens needed a moral compass. To do the right thing when no one was watching. They need to take the affairs of the city, state, and nation seriously and learn to think independently while working collaboratively.

His concern, however, was that citizens would lose touch with their civic responsibilities and become focus on self-gratification. Tocqueville was concerned that in such an environment, people would cease to think for themselves and become part of a herd in a majority where, their only guiding principle would be to mimic the majority. In such a world public opinion would become the new God.

Tocqueville believed that in such a world democracy is unsustainable, and that it was just a matter of time before people would gladly elect a dictator (despot) who will handle public matters so people can become fully absorbed in themselves. Tocqueville writes about us in his conclusion.

“I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Tocqueville wrote this not because he believed in predestination, but because he believed in freedom. He believed that people could resist the song of the siren seeking to lull us to sleep and instead rise up and once again be free. That we could again think for ourselves, govern ourselves, and responsibly work with others to govern the nation.

How can we begin to take back our country?

First, by becoming a voter and not someone else’s rubber stamp.

Politics doesn’t have to be a reality TV show.

 

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Introducing Q Commons
Q Commons brings the Q learning experience to your community. Join thousands of participants in 70+ cities Thursday evening, March 3, 2016 as we gather to learn how to engage our cities and cultural moment.
Raising Children that Shift Culture by Mark and Jan Foreman
Good Faith
Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman
More

Many Christians today feel overwhelmed as they try to live faithfully in a culture that seems increasingly hostile to their beliefs. Politics, marriage, sexuality, religious freedom–with an ever-growing list of contentious issues, believers find it harder than ever to hold on to their convictions while treating their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even family members who disagree with respect and compassion. This isn’t just a problem that affects individual Christians; if left unaddressed, the growing gap between the faithful and society’s tolerance for public faith will have lasting consequences for the church in America.

Now the bestselling authors of unChristian turn their data-driven insights toward the thorny question of how Christians talk with people they know and love about the most toxic issues of our day. They help today’s disciples understand what they believe and why, and how to keep believing it without being judgmental and defensive. Readers will discover the most significant trends that offer both obstacles and opportunities to God’s people, and how not only to challenge culture but to create and renew it for the common good. Perhaps most importantly, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons invite fellow Christians to understand the heart behind opposing views and show them how to be loving, life-giving friends despite profound differences. This will be the go-to book for young adult and older believers who don’t want to hide from culture but to engage and restore it.

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Lessons From Ferguson by Captain Ronald Johnson
August 9 is a historic day. In 1945, at 11:02am, US forces dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. In 1975, Richard Nixon resigned because of Watergate. August 9th's recent notoriety is attributed to Ferguson, MO where white officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teenager. Missouri Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson coordinated law enforcement agencies amid Ferguson uproar. He will discuss the challenge of moving past the past, creating order amidst chaos and what we can learn form this new moment in history.
by Scott Sauls More
Anticipating Monday’s celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this is the first of two reflections on my awkwardly redeeming journey with race. May we all — may I, Scott Sauls — be quick to listen and slow to speak, especially when confronted with blisters and calluses formed inside the shoes of those who walk a path that I, Scott Sauls, will never be made to walk.

A few years ago when I was serving as a preaching pastor at NYC’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, I gave a sermon on racial diversity. At the time, Redeemer was equally Caucasian and Asian…plus a smaller percentage of other races. In my sermon, I said something that I thought would connect with my non-white brothers and sisters and maybe even cause them to stand up and cheer. I said:

“The kingdom of God is as diverse as humanity is diverse. God has called people to himself, and into his Church, from every nation, tribe and tongue. He has called us to be one body, with one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Therefore, there should be no white church and no black church and no Asian church and no Latino church…because there is only one Church.”

As I said these words, I had no idea how much hurt they would cause.

Afterwards, an African American friend approached me to give feedback. Looking at me with sorrow in his eyes, he said, “Brother, you don’t get it.” This felt jarring and left me wondering what I had done wrong. But sometimes, a simple and very direct statement of fact is what’s needed to get us listening.

Soon after this, an Asian friend approached me, also with an urgency to provide me with feedback. He humbly and courageously offered the following (this is a paraphrase):

“Scott, since your sermon yesterday, I have heard from several friends who, like me, are ethnic minorities. All of them, to one degree or another, felt hurt by your words. Many of them grew up in minority-specific churches and felt that you de-legitimized those churches in your sermon. It felt like you were saying that those churches shouldn’t even exist. Scott, I really believe that you meant well, and that you sincerely value the diversity God desires for his Church. But I’m afraid your sermon moved us backward instead of forward. In a mostly white-led society, sometimes the only place that minorities can freely celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of their cultures, the only place that people of color are free to fully be themselves, is in churches where their culture is the majority. Your words about blended churches may be helpful for a white audience. But for minorities, your words reinforced the alienation that many of us feel in a white-led world and also in white-led churches. I’m afraid that your sermon added to, rather than taking away from, that feeling of alienation.”

As this friend spoke these things, I felt thankful and sorrowful. I felt thankful because he had exposed a blind spot in me. He gave me a glimpse of my inability to understand the minority experience, and of how much growing I have to do in the area of race.

I felt sorrowful because, in an attempt to build some bridges, I burned them instead.

Not long ago, I was naïve enough to believe that electing a black president would be the tipping point that solved the race problem. And yet, fifty years post-civil rights era, it has now become clear that we are not yet ready to call ourselves a post-racial people. I was painfully reminded of this when I came across a New York Times essay over Christmas written by George Yancy, a black philosophy professor at Emory, called “Dear White America.”

In his essay, Dr. Yancy laments the state of things for people of color in Western society. As he sees it, because the history books, the evening news, entertainment, business, education, politics, theology and church cultures are shaped predominantly by the white perspective, people of color have little choice but to live under what he calls “the yoke of whiteness.”

To white Americans, Dr. Yancey’s phrase, “the yoke of whiteness,” may seem unfair. The word “yoke” feels inflammatory, because it hearkens back to the days of slavery. And we in the modern West are against slavery and the racism that supported it, right? The public schools are racially integrated now. Lynching and mobs and violence, these are all now punishable by law. White pastors like me quote black thinkers such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in our sermons (I will in fact be doing so this coming Sunday).

We read books and essays by John Perkins and Cornel West, and we speak out and tweet for racial equality. It is not uncommon for a white person to marry a person of color these days, or to adopt a child of another race. Most white people would say that they deplore racism and are sickened by the shedding of black blood by racists. Our hearts hurt over black casualties in Selma, Ferguson, Charleston, New York City, and all other places where racial violence has occurred. Where there is injustice, most white Americans would say that they stand with the victims and against the perpetrators. But do people of color feel that these things are all true?

Though many of these things are true, we still have a race problem. How do we know this? We know this because the subject of race still hurts for many people of color. Dr. Yancey writes:

Don’t tell me about how many black friends you have. Don’t tell me that you are married to someone of color. Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that I’m the racist. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again. You may have never used the N-word in your life, you may hate the KKK, but that does not mean that you don’t harbor racism and benefit from racism. After all, you are part of a system that allows you to walk into stores where you are not followed, where you get to go for a bank loan and your skin does not count against you, where you don’t need to engage in “the talk” that black people and people of color must tell their children…As you reap comfort from being white, we suffer for being black and people of color.

“…we suffer…”

That’s what he said. …we suffer… Whenever these two words are uttered, the gospel demands open ears and open hearts. The gospel demands careful, humble, non-defensive listening to the history and wounds beneath the words.

Can I make a confession to you? Ten years ago, Dr. Yancy’s words would have bothered me. I might have even dismissed them as unfair and unreasonable. I would have assumed, wrongly, that his chief goal was to make white people feel guilty for being white.

But over time, and because of the courage and truthfulness of friends whose skin hue is different than mine, my perspective has changed. These days, I find myself more sympathetic toward, and not at all provoked by, words like the ones written by Dr. Yancy. Largely through friends…

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April
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Q Denver
42% of Americans believe people of faith are part of the problem in our world. Q Denver will prepare you to engage this new reality.
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“Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals.”

Chuck Colson
March
03
Q Commons
Equipping Christians to Engage our Cultural Moment. During the two-hour live event, attendees hear fast-paced national and local talks educating them on how to thoughtfully engage their city and our cultural moment.
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Hookup Culture by Donna Freitas
"Hooking up" has become a mainstay of college life. Sexualized relationships is part of the air Millennials breath. Permeating all facets of social life and discourse, casual sex has become the norm. But with liberation comes a cost; a new generation left wondering if sex is really anything more than a short-lived commodity. Donna Freitas, author of The End of Sex, talks about Millennial dissatisfaction with easy sex, and challenges us to consider what ways the church can counter this pervasive culture.
Race in America by Soledad O'Brien
We all have felt the temperature rise over the last few months around the topic of race in America. As we are experiencing a once in a generation moment, how can we think well and commit to being a part of the solution that brings reconciliation and healing for all? Soledad O’Brien, an award winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take on a challenging look at the issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity through personal stories.
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