One need not look farther than our music to tell how much a sub-culture we are in Christianity. For instance, consider the circumstance of “contemporary” music in our church.
And, before you do, consider that the state of church music is a vital factor in the survival of congregations. The “style” of a worship order is the first element most church-goers mention when they look at a church. No, not the preaching or teaching, so long as it does not clearly violate acceptable social values (determined by the congregant and practiced a little less often than pronounced). The young fellow who walks in wants up-tempo, not hymnody, and must see a drum set. It is more predictable than Advent.
Then, consider the music style is called “contemporary” or some version of the word. The music itself is some version of 1980’s U2’s Rattle and Hum.
Here is what tells you if the music is “contemporary” in the literal sense. Go to a high school parking lot at leaving time. Stand in the students parking area and just listen to what they crank up when they start to leave. You will be able to hear it, don’t worry.
Country and Western. Hip-Hop. A little mainstream and some retro. Not a lead guitar, a bass and two rhythm instruments.
We turn ourselves into a subculture, the definition of which (I use) is a specialized derivative of some (equally) small portion (per centage) of the larger culture. Think of it this way. You stand at the door of a house where a large party goes on and you decide how far into the party you wish to go. Western Christianity has its limits, as all do, determined by our “dogma,” and we end up as the wall flowers. You know, we are not the cool kids, not really, not at the big party, so we create a party of our own, where we can be the cool kids. We draw lines, everybody draws lines, lines are just there for the drawing. We know we draw the lines, even if we don’t like it, because we occasionally step over them, take a hit or make a laugh, and then scurry back to the acceptable derivative.
We are a subculture. Our stories (the meta-narratives of the faith) are good, but somewhat predictable and so hackneyed. We don’t really take our own meta-narrative all that seriously, anyway. Let a skeptical eyebrow be arched and watch us scurry back to the safe warmth of the subculture. We know this for sure. It is not so bad to be a wallflower if you have someone to watch the cool kids with you. Perhaps we can even complain to our parents about how the cool kids treat us.
Meanwhile, we look backward, 2,000 years, to the time Jesus was the mainstay of the party. He was the cool kid. I know He was fun. Strangers kept asking Him to dinner. People climbed up in trees to see Him.
What a guy.