Creative, rebellious Christianity!
A rock musician, interviewed on a TV show exploring the religious roots of popular music and the cultural conflict between rock music and religion, stated bluntly, "Christianity is not about creativity, and it is certainly not about rebellion."
As someone who has rocked to all kinds of quality music over the years, I say "wrong on both counts!"
It might be true that Christianity is not about some of the cruder forms of creativity and the more rabble-rousing kind of rebellion. And it might be equally true that some institutionalized expressions of the Christian faith emphasize tradition, ritual, and conformity rather than creativity and rebellion. It is not, however, what a good look at Jesus and his disciples evidences.
Tax money out of the mouth of a fish? Feeding 5,000 people with a handful of fish and bread? Talk about creativity! And overturning the tables of money-changers in the temple – not to mention overturning millenniums of material history and centuries of religious tradition? Talk about rebellion!
Today, too, heartfelt Christianity includes creativity and rebelliousness. As a writer, I have found time and again that prayer to know the flow of ideas is from the divine Mind, God, helps one hurdle writer's block – or any other kind of creative paralysis – and frees imagination and articulation.
I have found, too, that Christianity demands rebellion daily – not against people or society necessarily – against individual and collective strictures of materialism and the self-centeredness of what the Bible calls the carnal mind. This limited mind is the supposed opposite of the divine Mind, God.
Acknowledging and living, by contrast, on a spiritual basis of the First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," is radical and revolutionary in a way that doesn't necessarily lead to what might outwardly be reported as rebellion, especially not violent protest. Just the opposite, in fact.
I was caught once in a situation that could have turned ugly at a time when race riots were troubling my country. In a mixed race group I was manhandled aggressively by a policeman for no reason.
Striving to have no other God but the Mind that is Love led me to not react and to move on unflustered. Others moved on with me, and the situation was defused. A friend noted how fortuitous it was that the policeman picked on someone who chose not to react angrily.
To my rock musician friend, I would say that Christianity has taken the youthful rebellion I felt (and acted on) and has extended the life of that quality into my current career. However, it has shaped my expression of the quality into something more constructive and less destructive, more loving and less angered – namely, healing prayer.
Such prayer is a kind of rebellion – a mental protest against matter's limitations and evil's assertions. Neither by parading banners, nor by testing the bounds of decency, but through divine Science – the understanding of God – can I prove step by step that everyone has a right to justice in their lives. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy described Jesus' prayers as "deep and conscientious protests of Truth, – of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 12).
Jesus then could be seen as the profoundest of rebels, creatively affirming God's all-power and man's unyielding innocence as God's child, in order to rebel against conformity to sickness and character failings, and even death.
To be his follower is to do likewise: to protest whatever suggests that God – good – isn't the only power, and to live from a vision of man (all men and women) as the child of God's infinite goodness.
And, to some like me, the less salacious popular music can be a lively and energizing accompanying soundtrack to such holy work!