the awkward establishment :: merry… happy… whatever

Sitting in Starbucks and listening to Josh Groban croon hymns alternately to my Lord and to the arctic-dwelling sleigh-driving symbol of Mammon’s reign, I read the following with a smile:

‘[Christianity is] in the awkwardly intermediate stage of having once been culturally established but [is] not yet clearly disestablished.’ . . . To one degree or another, all of us are enthralled by a conception of the Christian religion as majority; and our North American fixation upon this imperial model of the church is the more entrenched and adhesive because our sort of establishment has not been one of form but of content—not de jure but de facto. Moreover, in many if not all situations within our context it is still possible to carry on ‘as if’—namely as if it were still Christendom. We are ‘not yet clearly dis-established.’ It is thus a particularly ‘awkward’ period in the history of Christianity in our experience as a (heretofore) mainly European civilization.

Douglas John Hall “Ecclesia Crucis: The Disciple Community and the Future of the Church in North America,” in Theology and the Practice of Responsibility ed. W.W. Floyd Jr. and C. Marsh (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1994), 59-60; quoting Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine, 134.

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