Friday, October 31, 2008

Counter Assumption

In his article, The Cult of Mac: Neuroscience shows Apple's impact on the brain is the same as religion, the author Skye Jethani cites research and opinion based on that research toward addressing what he sees as consumerism affecting the church.
"Apple is (as we've proven using neuroscience)...a religion. Not only that--it is a religion based on its communities. Without its core communities, Apple would die--it is already facing strong pressure as the brand simply is becoming too broad (losing) its magic. What's holding it all together is the hundreds if not thousands of communities across the world spreading the passion and creating the myths."

I was glad to see he came back and explored the opposite side of things... as he puts it "If brands have become religions, is the opposite also true? Have religions been reduced to brands?" Skye affirms that he does believe this to be true. I have to admit I was already thinking in this direction as I began his article (but then, that doesn't surprise those of you who know me, right?).

Could it be the same thing that makes humans in general vulnerable to consumerism in the first place is the same thing that contributed to the rise of a religion out of the relationship focus Jesus lived and taught while He walked the earth?

What's really intriguing about this study, and about Apple being dubbed "a religion", is more what it says about religion than it is an indictment on Apple or any other strong brand, right? Does the study show that people are generally pre-disposed to a system of belief about something? And, if so, could it suggest that when Jesus left the disciples without a religion per se, that in the absence of one, the people who by nature are predisposed to systemization rather than relationship, unknowingly began to layer the system, or religion, back onto that which Jesus spent three years striping away?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Not alone out here in the uttermost parts...

One of the interesting parts of my journey has been the initial isolation you feel when you begin the trek down a different path. The further I go down the path the more I come across others who are on the similar journeys. Today I discovered the blog of Jim Palmer. Just reading his current post, "you can't get there from here (or can you)", I found myself excited. One of the sentences that got me really excited was this one:
i don’t feel the need to cling to the label “Christian,” and i am okay with people who don’t think i am one.

I too have gone through a period where I was not quite sure what I had become and didn't know how to answer the question "are you a Christian"? I can say that the only folks I've come across who question my relationship to God are those who are typical church goers. Especially those with whom we attended church or served on their church staff at some point. Most think we've had some deep hurt from the church and have turned our backs on it. We get that blank look that comes after you tell them and it's obvious they are hoping we'll get over it at some point and return. But when you've had steak you can't settle for SPAM any longer when you don't have to.

On the other hand, when we come across unbelievers or others going down this same path we are on, we don't get those questions or the stares. And oddly enough, the unbelievers just notice something "different" about us and because we're not all "churchy" they actually open up and pour out their souls to us. The opposite of the reactions we used to get, and never noticed before because we were too church-strung, of the blank stare and obviously trying to think of an answer that allows them to slip away from the encounter never to have to see us again.

So, as Jim I don't cling to, and actually shy away from, the term "Christian" these days because of the association that it conjures in the mind of others. I've landed on the term Christ Follower. It's much more descriptive of where I am and where I am headed.