The Age of Spirituality

So this is a new movie slated to come out in the next couple of months. At first glance, it’s your typical Hollywood production. Big name stars, myterious plot lines, and one (apparantly) large disaster. But what’s interesting to me is what is becoming “typical” these days.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like if this was a movie made in the 80’s, or even early 90’s, it would be exposing the fallacy of this kind of mysterious spirituality. Think Leap of Faith with Steve Martin (one of my favorites). But something has shifted.

I think the movies, or stories, that we are producing are the best mirror to look at to see how the world around us has changed. And it has changed.

I once saw a news piece on Madonna, I’m sure Leslie made me watch it, but it was pretty interesting. Before every concert, Madonna would gather all her team together and pray.

Let that sink in.

Now, the god of Madonna didn’t have any radical demands on her life, at least what I could see from her prayer. It seemed like that god existed to make sure that they were on cue and in step for concerts. But to be fair, sometimes Jesus followers treat God the same way. God exists simply to help us get the best parking spaces at Target. We’d probably never say it that way, but it would come out in how we pray…and live.

But here’s my point. We live in a world now where Madonna prays. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I think that the general sense of culture right now, is that technological advancement had taken the place of God for so long, that now we are realizing something. That our Ipod’s can’t replace what we are really after, or Who’s after us.

And here’s where churches come in.

Because I know that the god of vague Spirituality isn’t who we are really talking about when we talk about Jesus. On some level, we find ourselves in Paul’s shoes again at Mars Hill. Speaking to people who believe in everything. But I’m starting to think this is a better connection point to start with.

I remember when I was a kid, my parents would have Bible studies with people often. They had a curriculum that would go story by story, and then it would ask very leading questions. Did Naboth have leprosy: Yes/No, Did Peter say to get Baptized: Yes/No?

And you’d go through and circle the right answers and master the Story of God.

I’d love to talk to the people who wrote the curriculum. I’m sure they had great hearts and motives,and I bet that God even used Bible studies like this. (After all he can speak through a donkey, I don’t think poor methodology is going to stop Him.)

But here’s what those Bible studies missed. God is mysterious, he can’t be put into some test tube and “discovered.” Life is mysterious, and Christians have a story that not only embraces that, it promotes it.

Each time I read the Bible these days, I walk away with more questions. I’ve learned to live in the tension between a God revealed in Jesus, and the God who tells the Ocean when to stop, or tells light when to exist.

Recently, I read the story about when Saul got the Witch to call up Samuel after he died. If you don’t know this story, just imagine a rated R version of Crossing Over. And while I was reading it, all these questions flooded into my mind. Was this really Samuel? How did the Witch not know it was Saul? Why doesn’t the Bible say more about this?

And here’s the point. Life is messy, The Bible admits it, we are the ones who pretend it isn’t.

And so maybe the Age of Spirituality is a good thing. Because the Scriptures have postured Jesus-followers not to have all the answers, but to navigate this story with God. Entering the mess, living in the story of a God who doesn’t share all the answers, but does share Himself.

And that would make one great movie.

About jonathanstorment

My family and I love reading, traveling, daddy/daughter dates, playing hide and seek, good music, and long meals with friends. We still miss LOST, and all four of us have Superman uniforms. We are passionate about bringing Heaven to Earth and want to follow Jesus while repainting discipleship for those around us. We are followers of Jesus and I preach at the Highland Church of Christ. We participate in something called A Restoration Movement, and we've come to realize that might be larger than we thought.

12 thoughts on “The Age of Spirituality

  1. I don’t know. I can see how it might be harder to present truth in a culture that accepts any kind of spirituality as truth. Remember that Paul had little or no success at Mars Hill, at least as far as it’s recorded.

    The movie looks intriguing and well made, and I suspect that to have such an ability would be a curse. A couple of things would hold me back. First, every time we have found a way to verify what a “psychic” knows, they’ve been proven to be charlatans. Second, I think there’s a reason God tells the Israelites not to mess with such things. I really don’t know that I want to give my dollars to support a movie about them. It would depend on what I hear about it from those I trust.

  2. I think you have a point. I believe that all our wrong desires are messed-up ones that are resolved in a belief in God. Like the guy who is thirsty and drinks poison — the desire is not what’s wrong, but the fulfillment of the desire is the problem. Every desire has a proper fulfillment. So what, I was thinking, is the desire that encourages us to embrace postmodern thinking? I think maybe postmodernism may be God’s way of telling Christians that our God is too small. We are finite and God is infinite, which means that in order to know God we will have to ask an infinite number of questions about Him. At the same time, we have a desire for some concreteness, some firmness of purpose. I think God fulfills this desire, too — God is love. Love can be infinite because it inspires life and creation; Hate ends in death and destruction. Mediums, I think, should be rejected because they snatch infinitude out of God’s hands and try to put it into the hands of human beings. God’s power is to big to be encased in witches, wizards, and mediums.

    As someone who is planning to spend the rest of his life studying postmodern theory and its application to literature, I believe that Christianity can learn valuable things from postmodernism. I think postmodernism actually came from Christianity, too — the whole doctrine of total depravity connects easily to the lack of firm truth or meaning in postmodern thought. But I think we run into danger when we start limiting conceptions of the infinite to finite human beings. It may seem grand in movies, songs, and stories at first — but far from being freeing, limiting existence to the human viewpoints is traps us in ourselves. The inifinite experience found in God is so much more exciting. God doesn’t want us to miss out.

  3. And see, I had a more cynical reaction. Big surprise, huh? 😉

    I watched the trailer yesterday & thought that Hollywood went and made themselves a new cash cow. Anyone that’s lost someone precious is going to feel the urge to see this movie. “Lose a loved one? Come pay us $8.99 and feel emotionally manipulated for a couple of hours.” But that’s what Hollywood is great at: crafting stories in such a way as to make a lot of money.

  4. Good post. It reminds me of the great parable that Tom Wright gives in Chapter 2 of Simply Christian of the city who paved over all of the fresh water springs and reserved running water to pipes. After hundreds of years of pressure, the concrete slab finally gave way and the city is now flooding with all of the backup. Spirituality is flooding us, which can be a very good thing.

  5. I simply want more. More Jesus. More God. More Holy Spirit. I want God out of all the boxes. I want Him mysterious and bigger than I can imagine. I don’t want to know the answers. I want to know Him. I want to see signs that make me wonder. Not wonder how. Wonder Who. “wonder: marvel, be amazed, be astonished, stand in awe, be dumbfounded, gape, goggle; be flabbergasted”

  6. Guess this is the best place to speak my mind for today, Jonathan, so DUCK!! 😉

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! WELCOME TO THE 30s

    May this decade be one of great memories, of growing many new friendships, in a house you and Leslie really feel is home! [still praying for that one! ]

    May Highlanders always be gracious and loving with you and your beautiful family, encouraging and uplifting to all of you!

    And most importantly, may God pour out His loving blessings on you and family throughout this year of beginning 30s and onward in all your life!

    We love you and are SOOOO blessed to have you with us at Highland!!

    Again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, dear preacher/pastor Jonathan!!! 🙂

    In His eternal love, grace and mercy!!

    Kathy

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