I almost hate writing on the topic of the secularization of western society, but given two images I’ve seen in the last 24 hours, I will, again.
The first was as I was headed to church yesterday afternoon. In front of me was a car with a license plate frame. On the bottom was the name of a particular church of a mainline denomination which has had unbelieving theologians running it for the last 60 plus years. I could not help but notice a moment afterward that, to the right of the car was a small sign, the size of a parking direction sign indicating that church was the next right turn. At the top of the license plate frame was, “Music is the tie that binds.” I have no idea why that frame was made; maybe everyone in the choir got one, or at least all the professionals dealing with music. If one thinks about it, the phrase is a “sort-of” denial of the historic Christian faith, in that the line comes from a doxology, “Bless’d be the tie that binds/Our hearts in Christian love/…” The tie that binds believers together is the mutual salvation that Jesus died for, and which that church (at least at the denominational level, and from the making of that trinket, almost assuredly at the local level) denies.
The second image that caught my mind this morning was on the ABC morning news. It was, according to the reporter’s voiceover, of a special service for Rep. Gabriella Giffords at her synagogue. The video and background audio gave the viewer a couple of seconds of the crowd singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Could I go so far as to say that this song has taken a position of near statement-of-faith proportions for western secularism? I realize that one aspect that rubs nominal persons of Jewish ethnicity (is it even belief anymore?) and persons who take the Christians who truly take their faith seriously is the contrary positions of the Christians taking the stories of the Tanak seriously and literally, and the persons of whom those stories are part of their heritage taking them to be as little as morality tales. Its just a jarringly contradictory image that occurs specifically at times when it is improper to overtly address it.