Posted by: ritagone | August 17, 2011

Countercultural

I am depressed.

Lately I’ve seen too many movies and read too many books about the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, so I switched to a movie called “The Help,” based on a book I’d read in my book club last year.  It was about Mississippi in the 1960’s and how the whites treated their black maids, which, of course, was, for the most part, not very well.

One of the books which was also made into a movie, by the way, was “Sarah’s Key,” about Jews rounded up in 1942 by the French, no less, not the Nazis, in Paris, brought to the Velodrome d’hiver, kept there in inhuman conditions and eventually sent on to camps.  Did you read me correctly?  The French did this under instructions from their occupiers, the Nazis.  Another example of what anyone is capable of given the right set of circumstances, the right conditions.

Man’s inhumanity to man is all around us, either historically or on the news right in front of our faces.

Yesterday a flash mob – a group of people organized for the purpose of foul play – organized on the Internet stormed into a 7/11 store in Maryland and robbed the store in less than a minute.  Think about it: if a group of about 28 people came into your store in dribs and drabs and started grabbing things off the shelves and leaving, there wouldn’t be much you could do about it.  It’s a whole new way of perpetrating crime: en masse.

What kind of people are we becoming?  Have we become?

You and I reading this say to ourselves, of course, “I would never do that.”  And of course we wouldn’t.  Would we?  I mean, if you were offered the chance to walk off with a few products for free, knowing that there would be no repercussions, you wouldn’t get caught, and no one would be the wiser, would you do it then?

I’d like to think I wouldn’t.  But then, sometimes we surprise ourselves not only to the upside but to the downside as well.

In “Sarah’s Key” there’s a great scene where the young people – ah, the  naïve young people! – are shocked and appalled at the revelation by Kristin Scott Thomas that this was the French who perpetrated the crime against the Jews.  Why didn’t the French citizenry up and object?  Do something?  “Would you?” she asked them.  “What would you have done?”  Of course their knee-jerk reaction was to say that of course they would have done something.  But don’t be so sure, she warned them.  Saying you would do something and actually doing something in the pressure and terror of the moment are two entirely different things.

So I’ve made a decision, a choice, since much of the Christian life is based on making good, positive choices.  Rather than allow myself to wallow in depression, I’m going to choose to be a term that I have come to love: countercultural.  Meaning this: if cultures, any cultures, all cultures, tend to be selfish and self-serving, doing what is necessary for their own survival, finding the scapegoat among them to always make themselves look good and to keep the enemy from their own door, I’m going to try to steel myself even now, when the enemy is NOT at my door, to think and behave counterculturally, in such a way that if he did come to my door, I’d be prepared to do the right thing, no matter what.  It may get easier and easier to do this as I get older and older with less years left to lose, but I’m going to think and live counterculturally anyway.

In fact, living counterculturally is not a bad way for believers in Jesus Christ to live anyway in almost every way.  It’s the way He lived 2,000 years ago.  It’s what got Him into such great heaps of trouble on almost a daily basis.  But it’s also what enabled Him to face the agony of dying on a cross, because the ultimate countercultural act is being willing to give up your life for others, those you know and those you don’t, those you have had the chance to love and those you haven’t.

There’s nothing more countercultural today than a bunch of people who have moved away from home to plant churches in other parts of the world because they have felt the call of God to do this.  That’s why I love Christian Associates and am so proud to be a part of their ministry.  So I feel like I’ve got a bit of a heads-up on being countercultural already!

Now I just need to keep it going, a little bit at a time!

Come on, you can do it too!

Let’s all be countercultural in a good way together.

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