I have been trying to discern what my next book will be. I thought it was going to be a proper theology, but, once I finished the first chapter of that work, I realized that the text wanted to stand on its own. Hence, Theology is Art, which was completed about three months ago.
Earlier in December, I tried to write an epic novel, but it was…horrible. No lie. It was really, really bad. Some of you, who are good and kind, offered to read it to see if it was really as bad as I am saying it is, but I’m never letting that puppy see the light of day.
I briefly tried to write another piece of fiction, but I found I had no passion for it. The smart money is for me to write something on spirituality and personality types, for I get around 10 visitors a day to the site simply because they are looking for that kind of information.
But then, a few days ago, I saw the film Press Pause Play. Here is the description from the film’s homepage:
The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent in an unprecedented way, with unlimited opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art or is true talent instead drowned out? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world’s most influential creators of the digital era.
The following clip, in particular, caught my attention (mostly because I have a man-crush on Seth Godin):
He’s right. The “industry is dead,” regardless of what industry you’re a part of. That means the church, too.
This film and other works surveying the current state of “remix culture” (and the tangential issues of piracy and copyright infringement) have prompted me to begin working on another exploration of the intersection of digital culture and the Christian faith. I’m tentatively titling the work Remix Reformation.
Here’s the abstract I wrote:
With the advent of the digital networked culture, sharing and collaboration are the norm. The democratization of media has enabled anyone to become a “content creator” and distribute their new creations to the world.
In essence, it has become so much easier to do what we have always done: take the creations of the past, build upon them to generate something new, and distribute that new creation to the world. However, those who have profited in the past are seeking to control the next wave of creation through copyright law and the protection of “intellectual property.”
Because the powers of the past willfully neglect the process by which new creations are born, a growing number of “digital pirates” are seeking to actively subvert and disrupt the immoral laws that have been put into place. Through piracy, copyright infringement, and a new approach to copyright (open source, Creative Commons, etc.) the controllers of the past are being neutralized and rendered irrelevant.
There is a similar story that can be told about the Christian faith, I believe.
Christianity was, itself, a remix of Judaism and Hellenistic culture (so was the Bible). This new creation then spread to Europe and on to the Modern west. At each stage of the advance, the form of Christianity that was prevalent resisted the progression of the faith. Notably, Protestant persecution occurred during the period of the Inquisition. Today, however, the extreme measures taken by the Inquisition simply would not fly. What has risen in its place is a vitriolic coercion in the defense of orthodoxy, which often takes the form of laying the blame of the decline of Christendom at the feet of progressive Christians.
The only way for Christianity to move forward is to nullify and neutralize the
neo-orthodoxy Christian fundamentalism that is attempting to retain control. Remix Reformation will explore how, exactly, this can be done in theology, spirituality, and in the life of the Church.
How does that strike you?
I dig it. I love the idea of the church, theology, spirituality being created anew by new imaginitive artists, if you will. It’s adventurous and courageous. I wonder if interfaith work is a big piece of it, especially answering the question, who are we as Christians-in-relationship-with-religious-diversity? Harvey Cox’s book Future of Faith resonates with your main themes.
I really think interfaith is a big part of the equation, and has to be considered, going forward.
“What has risen in its place is a vitriolic coercion in the defense of orthodoxy, which often takes the form of laying the blame of the decline of Christendom at the feet of progressive Christians.”
This was the sentence that struck me most. I think it hit me because I believe it is very true in a fairly narrowly American (or Ameri-European) sense, but not at all in a global sense. Progressive Christians live almost exclusively in North America and Europe, and those are the places where Christendom was most clearly present and where Christianity is most clearly in decline. (I too reject the idea that is caused by the other, but I think it is worth acknowledging that this is a trend/argument with significant impact on a limited slice of the Christian world.
Also, as a coorolary to Jake’s very good point above–I would be interested in an exploration of how we as progressive, remix Christians relate with the growing numbers of far more conservative Christians in the global south. It seems to me that the way we are in relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ (who understand God’s love, work, and will far differently than we do) is even more important (and more difficult) than how we relate to and interact with religious progressives of other faith traditions.
While you and I have regularly disputed who our primary partner is/should be (progressives in other traditions or traditionalists of our own), I think you are right on the money that the question needs to be dealt with. Thanks for the reminder.
You are absolutely right in that this is primarily a Modern Western phenomenon. One of the beauties of this kind of project is that that parameter is always facing me down, ensuring that I don’t overreach.
What would it mean for the church to “move forward” (first sentence of your last paragraph)?
That’s a good question. I think I mean the Church retaining the ability to be effective in its ministry in a new day and age.
One subtitle I was toying with was “Digital piracy, copyright infringement, and the future of Christian orthodoxy,” but to day I thought that, perhaps, something like “The promise of Progressive Christianity” might be a better descriptor.
The Wisdom and Promise of Progressive Christianity?
(I was already intrigued by the fact that Wikipedia is “going on strike” just as you’re launching a new effort–and seeing your original subtitle makes me think, “OK, what’s going on out there?”)
Oooo, I like that a little better. It’s certainly much more positive and lends some gravitas.
Yeah, this SOPA bill is a big deal, and is (in my opinion) an internet killer. This is one of those things that we need to stop. I can understand why some are nervous, but I think it’s pretty horrible.
To me, “wisdom” suggests PC already has something to offer–that this isn’t about just wishful thinking (as “promise” might be misunderstood).
It would be fun to talk to you sometime about the copyright issue. I realize that after 20-plus years in publishing, I feel a teeny bit protective of intellectual property (even if it’s not my own). But I don’t want to shanghai your thread!
Sounds great. Get off the net and start writing! 🙂
I quibble but . . .
1)Nulify and neutralize neo-orthodoxy? Are we talking about Barth and the the resulting outgrowth of the 20th cent like the confession of 67 or Barmen? Cause, I’m moderately liberal, but I’m not down with that. Does this mean I get to be neutralized too?
If so, I want to be disintegrated a la Bobba Fett. . . given the choice of course.
No, that’s a good quibble. I need to get precise in my terms, and I thank you.
Perhaps “Neo-Orthodoxy” is not the term of choice. I am speaking of the religious dogmatists who are currently on heresy hunts for anyone not professing a strict, classical orthodoxy. What’s the term for that?
I like Barth. I don’t see the world as he does, but I like what he’s doing. I’ve always been more of a Schleiermacher/Tillich fan.
I tend to think, “stagnant orthodoxy/theology” personally (as opposed to “generative orthodoxy/theology” a la dianna butler bass), but that’s probably not a very helpful term either.
Would it be precise enough to refer to a “fundamentalist orthodoxy” as opposed to an established movement known as “Neo-Orthodoxy”?
I’m realizing that Neo-Orthodoxy more refers to a movement, not a posture. Does that sound right?
I think that certainly sounds like a more accurate description with less weighted language.
I’m not sure what you mean by “movement” as opposed to “posture”. Sadly in my own mind, I’m moving my posture toward scatological humor.
YES: Your Industry Is Dead | knightopia.com | the online home of Steve Knight
me and some friends are planting a church in a small, but historic town in New England. We are thinking of naming the church “ReMix Church.” So, obviously I am intrigued by your thoughts in the article above. However, doesn’t your desire to “neutralize and nullify fundamentalism” go against the nature of remix theory. Remix doesn’t nullify, it transforms, right? My interest in your writings are not so much theological and philosophical, but practical in nature. I’m glad I stumbled upon you website tonight.