One of the recent struggles I have is to avoid being a Protestant liberal. A part of me wants to adopt what Scot McKnight calls an "ironic faith", which usually takes the form of either doing church with like-minded people or distancing oneself from church in order to be closer to Jesus and neighbour. But the better part of me resists, eventually deciding that an "Omega Course" for exiting Christianity and "giving up Christianity" for lent are stupid ideas. The Chip Monk --over at Living Gently in a Violent World -- has written about this phenomenon as it pertains to Greenbelt, a festival about which I know very little. I do know that the slogan "where faith, arts and justice meet" annoys me, but it could be worse - it could have additional, tortured post-evangelical buzz-words-with-no-content like "narrative" and "community" in there too. Unfortunately, they do make it into the Vision, which involves "reimagining the Christian narrative for the present moment." What is this? Have our business-like churches today outsourced art and justice and imagination to festivals like Greenbelt and The Wild Goose (The U.S. equivalent)? It's as if a deal has been struck, with the church taking the unwanted-but-necessary-role as exclusive, closed defender of orthodoxy while cool festivals and organisations get the enviable role as open-inclusive-diverse-edgy communities of faith and love and justice and music and all that stuff normal, rational people like.
Anyway, I'm ranting about something I know little about, and, admittedly, something I find intriguing as well as annoying. What I really wanted to do was point out an irony at the heart of this ironic faith movement. Slavoj Zizek could be seen as a post-evangelical ally, an intellectual figure who justifies an ironic stance towards traditional Christian belief and practice. Not so.
…if there is an ideological experience at its purest, at its zero-level, then it occurs the moment we adopt an attitude of ironic distance, laughing at the follies in which we are ready to believe – it is at this moment of liberating laughter, when we look down on the absurdity of our faith, that we become pure subjects of ideology, that ideology exerts its strongest hold over us.
Post-evangelical might just be another way of saying "out of the frying pan and into the fire."