Strangely there seems to be inherent in all of us a propensity toward uniformity. On one hand, we’re drawn to it because we want to belong, we want to be in sync with those around us and so naturally we gravitate toward preserving this “unity”, this “sameness”. On the other hand, we are the ones encouraging uniformity when we want to pull others into our universe. We’re excited about where we are and, naturally, we want to get others to see the world like we do, to think like us, to be like us … so they can share our experience.
Standardization is uniformity marketed at a mass scale.
The educational system is designed to make us conform. We’re sold in our society on a path to success that supposedly has a proven record, so who wants to reinvent the wheel? We live in a world where non-conformity seems to equal failure. So, we “mature”, we do the math and realize that choosing to play the game over following our own dreams just makes more sense so … we learn to blend in.
Since every area of our society has its own “way” (rules, standards etc.) that we either follow or we’re out, it’s only natural to expect Christianity to follow suit, right? In fact, when we take a look at the face of Christianity that’s exactly what we see. The various expressions of Christianity seem to each sell us on the notion that there is one way (usually theirs) to do this God thing. The mantra is:
God wants you to conform
You need to change who you are (which is what repentance is marketed to be) in order to be accepted by God or be able to connect with God (depending on the particular version of Christianity you happen to be in). You have to think in a certain way, you have to have a certain view of reality, you have to behave in a particular way and on and on you are being given a matrix you need to fit in. Now, as a person who lived the first 18 years of my life under the Romanian Communist Regime, I can’t escape but be reminded of the communist “new man”. Communist ideologs have come up with a well defined version of how this “new man” should be and have designed complex and sophisticated mechanisms by which people are to be molded into this image. For many years I saw Christianity merely as a competing mechanism that’s supposed to produce a better version of the “new man”. I wanted so desperately for the Christian experiment to work, if for nothing else to prove those atheist communists wrong. As years went by I came to realize that Christianity is supposed to be anything but a conforming machinery. The matrix of conformity started to fade a way and I started to see a new kind of Christianity. One that embraces and accepts instead of trying to alter, one that celebrates and enjoys instead of being in a fixing mode, one that discovers and explores instead of obsessing with preservation.
In the next post I will attempt to explore this vision of Christianity and why it makes more sense from a theological perspective. Until then, let’s hear of your stories of conforming or non-confirming.
[This post is part of the Big Tent Christianity synchroblog]