I am BARRY HESS > Blog

The Self-Focused Life

Bill McKibben says it, Greet Machine comments.

It seems to me the self-centering of Christianity is probably based on the market economy. It’s all about sales, and the only way to truly engage the individual, to get him in the seats, is to speak to him directly. If you limit the discussion to an individual and his immediate family, you’ve got ‘em. After all, what can one person do to affect change in the world, country, state, region, city, town, or neighborhood.

If I want to feel safer in my home, I’ll start a neighborhood watch program. If I want to have a pool, maybe I’ll solicit funds from the next-doors to build a community pool. If I want to find the answers to (my) life’s questions, I’m going to look toward Christianity (it’s what my neighbor does) and the religion sure as hell better have something to give me in return.

The author is right, America is a nation focused on self-improvement. American Christianity has adjusted to keep itself in a power position. Leaders have nudged it in the direction that keeps things status quo, in a day-to-day sense. It is unsurprising then that we have seen a melding of religion and politics.

Since the days of Constantine, emperors and rich men have sought to co-opt the teachings of Jesus. As in so many areas of our increasingly market-tested lives, the co-opters - the TV men, the politicians, the Christian "interest groups" - have found a way to make each of us complicit in that travesty, too. They have invited us to subvert the church of Jesus even as we celebrate it.