Rent, Stream, Experience - New Values and the Church (1 of 3)

Recently Leslie Bradshaw shared about changing values in American culture. The tweetable line is that younger generations are affecting other generations toward "rent, stream, and experience." (You may want to take just a moment and read this little article to get the background.)

Personally, I resonate with these three values. Aside from the obvious definitions of rent, stream experience, I would submit there are connections to Christianity. And perhaps, if we get our stuff together, Christianity can help cultivate these values because these values overlap with Christian values.

First of all: rent.  Renting means not owning, which is exactly the point of Christians' understanding of stewardship. You and I do not own anything even if we bought it. Everything belongs to God and we all are just borrowing or renting it from God. Christians talk about your very breath (pneuma in Greek or ruha in Hebrew) belongs to God. We are born and the pneuma/ruha (which also means spirit) of God enters into us and animates our bodies. When we die that pneuma/ruha (breath/spirit) returns to the source - God. This idea that God owns all things is true not just for our breath but also for things like money, land, and even life itself. 

While it may be difficult in the "American dream", moving from owning to renting is not a difficult value leap for the Christian.

The one thing that unites us all

In the spirit of the new Hobbit movie that is out I would like to point out the one thing that unites every human being in the world. It unites the left the right. The theist, agnostic, and atheist. It unites the east and west, past and present and even the future. Everyone has it. Everyone thinks it.

Everyone has doubt. 

It is the thing that brings us all together. Regardless of creed, color, gender, status, or time you lived. We are unified in our ability to doubt. If you encounter a religious person who never doubts then I would say you are encountered a liar. 

If you tell me Christian commitment is a kind of thing that has happened to you once and for all like some kind of spiritual plastic surgery, I say go to, go to, you’re either pulling the wool over your own eyes or trying to pull it over mine. Every morning you should wake up in your bed and ask yourself; “Can I believe it all again today?” No, better still, don’t ask till after you’ve read The New York Times, till after you’ve studied that daily record of the world’s brokenness and corruption, which should always stand side by side with your Bible. Then ask yourself if you can believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ again for that particular day. If your answer is always Yes, then you probably don’t know what believing means. At least five times out of ten the answer should be No because the No is as important as the Yes, maybe more so. The No is what proves you’re human in case you should ever doubt it. And then if some morning the answer happens to be really Yes, it should be a Yes that’s choked with confession and tears and great laughter.
                                                                                                               -Frederick Buechner 

Redeeming the walls that divide us

Simone Weil, a French thinker and Christian mystic from the first half of the 20th century is someone I am slowly beginning to become aware of. In fact recently I quoted her as a him, which exposed I did not do the basic of research on a her and (perhaps even more damning) gender bias. With this public confession out of the way, I pass along what came to my inbox from Inward/Outward not long ago: 

"Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link."

It makes me wonder if the Christian message has something to say about the boundaries that separate us. Could those boundaries not only be the source of division but also the source of unity? 

Could we use that which divides us to unify us then rather than chunking rocks at the wall to break it or over the wall to harm our neighbor? Is it possible to use the points of difference at an invitation to meet up with others and get to know more about why they feel, believe, think or act the way they do?

I do not agree with everyone, even those close to me, and when I think about the things that divide us are trivial to the amount of love and respect we have fostered over the years. 

Relationships have the power to overcome the divisions, and the divisions that can be used to build the relationships. This is how Christians understand redemption. God using the point point of weakness to bring about strenght.