31
Mar
07

The Christian Alternative

In contemporary America, one would be hard pressed to find a group so omnipresent and so inextricably linked to the nation’s global image as Christians. Yet despite their prevalence in American culture, there is a tendency among some Christians in the United States to see themselves as separate from the popular culture; in some cases, certain Christian groups have taken this notion so far as to think of themselves as a moral minority, defending the true Christian and American traditional values against an evil society.

To that end, there are countless Christian alternatives to just about any secular thing one might imagine. There is an entire Christian recording industry, Christian coffee houses and Christian bookstores. There is even a Christian alternative to Youtube. This is a phenomenon with which I am truly fascinated. What is the reasoning behind the self-imposed segregation among Evangelical Christians? I have one theory.

The Christian alternative mindset perhaps hearkens back to the early days of Christianity in the Roman Empire. In those days, Christians truly were in the minority and were very much separate from the culture of the day, though whether or not they held any sort of moral high ground is really a matter of opinion. It is also true that the Christians of antiquity were oppressed, oftentimes used as scapegoats for whatever problems faced the empire at the time. Yet those Christians proved unshakable in their faith, unwilling to recant their faith in the face of death. Such devotion is admirable, and indeed that devotion proved important in the spread of Christianity.

The now iconic image of Christains and lions.

If we jump forward a few centuries to the present day, we see contemporary American society split between largely urban liberalism and largely rural conservatism. Evangelical Christians are quite firmly within the latter faction, and since the mainstream media caters primarily to the former group, the Evangelical Christians may feel alienated from that culture, which they see as sinful and corrupt.

Therefore, on the one hand inspired by their estrangement from popular culture and on the other by the piety of the Christians of the religion’s fledgling years, Evangelicals have tried to establish an identity for themselves as the defenders of a besieged morality. In effect, there is now something of a crusader mentality, evinced by the fact that one can now buy clothing with the following less-than-politically correct image:

As though Christians were being tread upon. And I seem to recall the Crusades not ending well for the Christians…

In any case, the Christian alternative culture is one that is spreading very quickly throughout the nation, particularly in the Midwest and in the South. Nor is this a purely adult phenomeon; the documentary Jesus Camp chronicles the Christian alternative culture in the context of children (albeit from a somewhat slanted perspective). As the movement continues to grow, it will be interesting to see where it goes, and how it affects the split in American culture.

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