Sunday, June 9, 2013

Are The "Spiritual But Not Religious" Today's Jesus Freaks?

I've already often remarked that the large and remarkably self-important group which calls itself "spiritual but not religious" are Protestants who don't know what Protestantism is because they're ignorant of history. It just occurred to me that the "spiritual but not religious" may also have some characteristics in common with what decades ago were called "Jesus freaks." The term "Jesus freak" may well mean something very different to many or most people than it did in the early 1970's -- and perhaps earlier than that. I'm not sure, in part because I was only 8 years old on 1 January, 1970. But as a child I saw the Jesus-freak movement going on around me. These people were "freaks" in a sense of the term not entirely dissimilar to "hippies": they had very long hair, often wore tie-dyed shirts and went barefoot, and were Skeptical About Society. And they believed in Jesus. (Think Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.)

And unless I'm very much mistaken, very many of them attended seminaries and took part in shaping today's liberal Christian theology. And so, man, you know, they're like, way too laid back to get all radical if someone decides they're not religious anymore even though they still love Jesus and believe in the Bible, okay man? Because they like realize that the true message of the Bible has been distorted by thousands of years' worth of patriarchy and homophobia.

I'm against patriarchy and homophobia. But I'm also against nonsense -- no, check that. I'm against patriarchy and homophobia because they are nonsense. Same reason I'm against religion, and against the claim that the "spiritual but not religious" aren't actually religious. They may be against some manifestations of organized religion, but 1) disorganized religion is still religion, and 2) as we speak, enterprising individuals are busy organizing these allegedly "spiritual but not religious" people, these religious people with Daddy complexes having theological disputes with others, into flocks and shearing them. The "spiritual but not religious" movement is just sad in the way that Christian rock has always been sad: they want so bad to be cooler than the other Christians and it just makes them dorkier. And like their claim that they're not religious, their claim that patriarchy and homophobia are distortions of Christianity is nonsense. There never was a matriarchal and gay-friendly Christianity until they invented one. Full rights for women and gays are worthy goals, worthy of fighting for. But they're not traditionally christian. And that is so obvious that it makes it obvious that these people are oblivious of the history of the religion they claim to embrace. And discouragingly but hardly surprisingly, trying to point this out to them is like trying to nail a blob of mercury to the wall. Religion, most definitely including the "spiritual but not religious," continues to provide a haven for people who, to paraphrase Jack Gibbs, are tenaciously fighting off the very idea of trying to think.

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