You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Sophie's Choice

Recently I have been listening to Phil Jenson's Sermon series on "The Cross". He was describing Jesus' response to his approaching execution as an intense emotional struggle. A similarity with the death of Socrates is drawn in the book Sophie's World. However, Phil contrasts the true passion of Jesus, as he approaches what he knows to be the real truth about death, with the cool, rational response of Socrates, who himself said, "Whether to live is better than to die - who knows?". In reading Sophie's World for myself, I came across another interesting Socratic approach to the problem of knowing - the answer is actually inside everyone, but it just needs to be teased out.

The Christian church's engagement with society through popular culture is similar - we believe that we need to "connect" with the masses, so we use popular culture (films, TV, music) with the intention of making the link from The Matrix to the good news. But the approach in my experience is essentially Socratic. It assumes that Christ-consciousness is "inside" the hearer, "inside" popular culture, and we just need to lead them to that insight. "Really, you've been Christian all along - although you thought you were just a U2 fan".

In reality the converse is true. Such an approach needs to be turned on its head. The gospel breaks through into your domain from the outside - it is not an insight that you "realize" by drawing on your popular culture "experience" - it is the direct experience of God by you.


Anonymous said...

David writes - Indeed this is the mystery isnt it. Why would anyone not want to be the centre of the universe - as any child will tell you they are? Maybe its the weight of the universe on our shoulders that creates that need. I find I am maybe a little Socratic - wouldnt we be better off in the next world? But life is good as well isnt it?

Stephen said...

Thanks for your comment