Sunday, May 16, 2010

Christian Accountability or Control and a Guy Named Rousseau?

Pictured of course is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a philosopher from Geneva who lived from 1712 up until 1778. I was thinking about him of late because, as I’ve mentioned ad nauseam, that I’ve been reading A Tale of Two Cities. Actually I’m proud to say that I finished it last night. I hope to post on it as well as on my whole, and new, appreciation for fiction.

But back to what I was saying about Rousseau. While I was reading the Tale, and seeing the working out of the French Revolution, I kept seeing the finger prints of Rousseau all over the place. I couldn’t remember (at least on a consciences level) if Rousseau actually had an influence on the revolution or not. But, after words I did check my intuition and it is widely believed that he did.

In gross summary (an in my very simplistic terms) Rousseau believed that humans were born good and become evil or corrupt under the influence of authority . . . such as religion. He believed in the concept of the “noble savage.” Continuing, he believed that in our raw form, if left alone, we would be good.

Well the French Revolution was a horrible experiment that showed the emptiness of those presuppositions. Certainly, in the “worst of times” that led up to the Revolution, you could sensibly argue in favor of Rousseau. The authority of the government, in cahoots (pardon my French) with the high society (Aristocrats) and the Church certainly did lead to all kinds of evil. But the so-called noble savage, when released from those terrible, overbearing, restraints became just savages. The French, “Reign of Terror,” made the Taliban look like Boy Scouts or even Brownies.

I will get back to church and accountability . . . eventually.

But, in my humble opinion, every philosophical concept imagined by man (or woman) starts with an observation about reality . . . a true observation. However, almost inevitable, that philosophical thinking eventually becomes absurd . . . as did Rousseau’s.

The same is true with Linguistic Deconstruction, promoted by another Jacques (I think), that is Jacques Derrida. I draw upon Deconstruction, especially the linguistic form, a lot while I realized that it quickly became completely absurd in its extreme forms.

This is what brings me back to my questioning about the word “accountability” as used by my pastor, versus my own connotation.

But, in my mental frame of perpetual paranoia, I will again add this caveat. I am often accused of being, “negative,” “bitter” or “critical.” My wife is my most regular accuser in this regard. But I really don’t think that I am. Yeah, I get frustrated with things. But my criticisms (which once again I’m about to launch upon) does not come from a sour place in my bosom. It comes from my insatiable desire for truth.

I was recently in Universal Studies in Orlando so that image is fresh on my mind. I feel that my life is lived on a movie set (okay think of the Truman Show here). I’m not the star however, but just one of the pawns. When I see the glimpse of truth through the cracks in the fiberglass “stone buildings” I long for what could be on the other side. That is my criticism. I’m not looking down my nose as I use to as an Evangelical when I thought I was one of the few with the absolute truth in all areas of life. I just have a natural desire for real-reality. It would be much, much easier to pretend in the fiberglass world. People would like me much better. I would fit in much better. But I would always be haunted by the real-reality which I would be ignoring.

So, now I’ve wasted a good-long session at Starbucks and it is time for me to go and I’ve never even touched on this topic of accountability. I will add just the introduction, as why I was even thinking about this, but not fully discuss it until next time.

I mentioned in my last post that I had missed five consecutive weeks at my church. I felt self-consciences when I came back (as some rumors were flying that I was church hunting). But I am happy to say that my old church friends were quite friendly. The pastor did once again mention how important that the church is (speaking of the local-church) and why God wanted all of us involved with the local church. Again the word “accountability” was used. Now, for a fleeting second, I felt he was talking directly to me. I doubt if he was.

But I left church last Sunday thinking about this. Here is my pastor saying that I (or people like me) should be MORE involved with the local church for our sake, because of accountability. At the same time, I’ve reached a place of disillusionment because I have a deep hunger for “accountability” and I’ve tried my best to get it at this church (and other churches) and it as been as evasive as the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Then, through a little linguistic deconstruction I started thinking about the word “accountability” as used by most pastors as being something very different from what I seek.

More later.


Recovering Alumni said...

Sorry to hear your wife misunderstands you. That hurts. Looking forward to your take on accountability...

MJ said...

Oh, its not a big deal and I probably shouldn't have said it that way. She is a perpetual positive thinker, as is her family, so when I struggle or say that things could be better it always looks like criticism.

Anonymous said...

He is awesome I just hair that he lived for such a short time period