Random Notes From What I’m Reading

The story of my life is the story of my faith…

Fighting For Authenticity

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Something I check almost as often as my email is my RSS feeds although one of my favourite sites, Relevant, gets neglected and I keep saving articles a they come out to read later. I have a ton of music and basketball sites in my feeds and I always bookmark the Relevant articles as I’m usually in a hurry to read through my feeds and email and I like to slowly read the articles and digest what I’m reading.

This week while going through archived posts I realized I had over 50 Relevant articles saved up so I finally sat down to read them.

Talk about being a slacker.

While digging through the 50 plus articles one that stood out was Josh Riebok’s “Fighting For Authenticity” and the section or the article that caught my attention was when Josh wrote:

Authentic community, authentic faith and authentic Jesus are the cry of the new generation.

We don’t want to be fooled anymore. We don’t want to be gullible anymore. We want to be us with people that don’t pretend to be something that they aren’t. Just add water relationships, plastic pastors and immaculate images have induced gag reflexes like that of Lloyd Christmas upon finding that Harry Dunne was sweeping Mary Samsonite, I mean Swanson, off for a day of skiing in Dumb and Dumber. We want flawed. We want imperfect. We want real. And this kind of corduroy rather than polyester faith is a growing and refreshing influence in the world today.

But as our generation has attempted to flee the “traditional” model of Christianity with perfect leaders, pristine theologies, hollow rituals and performance driven faith, it has not been able to fully evade it and it is now invading our most cherished value, authenticity. The banner of authenticity that our generation has waived is in danger of being tainted, soiled and becoming one of the very things that we are so desperate to escape.

The truth is, authenticity is becoming as traditional a religious method as singing “Amazing Grace,” uttering the Apostles Creed or avoiding tattoos and drinking. It is becoming a mindless ritual that holds no meaning. One that we somehow believe makes us more spiritual. It goes something like this.

A group of twentysomethings will be drinking a beer, talking about life, Lost and sharing their stories. Someone will begin to share about their past, perhaps describing the strained nature of their relationship with their father. Words like broken, wounded and bitter will get thrown around. As the individual finishes their story, the others in the room will feel a deep connection, believing that this individual has just bared their soul in an authentic way.

But what really happened, many times, is that this individual has just performed a powerfully hollow ritual. They have figured out what they can share in this community in order to make everyone else think that they are being authentic and making them happy. Simultaneously, they withheld all things that are difficult to share, anything that might bring discomfort, and anything that they are truly wrestling with. At the conclusion of the exchange they are accepted by the community, their heart has remained completely hidden, and they somehow believe that God is smiling. Herein lays the danger of authenticity and the proof that “religion” has infiltrated the ranks of authenticity.

We, as humans, always learn how to play the game of religion and spirituality. We adapt. It used to just be that we could go to church, memorize a few Bible verses, not party too hard in public and avoid Tarantino movies, and we were confident that we were OK in the eyes of everyone else. And now, we are simply adding authenticity to that list. It is simply lengthening the works oriented faith list that must be executed in order to make God and others happy. 

This article was a good wakeup call for me as I’ve realized this summer that through trying to be genuine and authentic I’ve strayed away from being honest to  myself. I would like to expand on this some more but the best I can do is linking it to Jesus’ example of the first being last – the more I try to be genuine and honest through being open with friends the more it feels like I’m putting on a mask.

I’m not sure if my ramble made much sense, but even if it didn’t please take some time to read Josh’s article as it will provide you with some great food for thought.

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Written by Ryan

August 22, 2007 at 3:32 am

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