Post-Christian America: 7 Defining Realities
How do we know that western culture in general and America in particular are firmly entrenched in post-Christian practices and beliefs? Consider at least seven realities that show how our thinking matrixes are well past the themes of postmodern thought and are now clearly embedded in a new realm of belief and practice.
- Nihilism: In growing numbers, this culture is more intensely rejecting religious and moral principles, embracing skeptical meaningless that began several decades ago on the existential path of despair that began in postmodernity. In increasing ways, people feel that there is no hope for our planet, our country, or for our personal well-being.
- Cynicism: In visible ways, this culture pivots its values and principles off of a platform of skepticism and self-interest, oftentimes publicly protesting if they don’t get their wishes. Ours is a society where many people feel entitled to certain services, benefits and benevolences regardless if they contributed to make them possible or not. The heart of this generation possesses a deeper disposition to self like no other time previously possessed.
- Mysticism: There is widespread fascination and intrigue towards the mystical, spiritual and occult realms, provoking numerous books and television series around “monsters,” the paranormal, and mystery. The increasing popularity of Halloween and the escalating business that it generates suggests an ongoing enchantment to the metaphysical dimensions of human exploration and captivation.
- Surrealism: Ours is a society that has become bored with the normal and the mundane, preferring the bizarre and the strange. Complementing mysticism, our post-Christian conditioned culture looks for ultra-phenomenal feats and dreamlike abilities in their athletes, pop performers and cinematic special effects, all for the sake of “entertainment.”
- Hyperrealism: In this dream-like fantasy-preferred world, our culture creates what they wish to see, not what is actually there. This is seen in the ridiculously-popular video game industry that projects visual and sound environments that transport people to another place and time in order to “escape” the real woes and miseries in this life. Our world often chooses to live in the surreal, not the actual.
- Perspectivism: Following Nietzsche’s lead (“there are no facts, only interpretations”), this post-Christian culture constructs truth not from absolutes but from standpoints or “perspectives.” This is relativism on steroids, creating truth to be whatever they want it to be for the moment they want it to exist. If you change your standpoint, you will change truth in its formulation.
- Collectivism: Even though cynics prefer self-interest values, they tend to flock together as birds of one feather with others sharing the same concerns. Special interest groups abound in post-Christian thought, advocating, promoting and defending their values, rights and priorities. There is great rhetorical power in the voice of the collective, and it is often invoked in the public arena as a formidable persuasion tool.
In a post-Christian culture, life is vastly different than previous generations. Effectiveness demands that today’s leaders think more about these and other realities in order to engage this culture strategically.