A friend reminded me last week of Slavoj Žižek’s appropriation of Oscar Wilde’s assertion that (to paraphrase) ‘the worst slave owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and prevented the evilness of slavery as an institution from being fully recognized or realized.’
A fuller perspective on Žižek and his use of this quote can be found in this great infographic video:
A group of friends that I’ve been ‘doing life’ with for the last few years were chatting about the church’s penchant for endless cycles of conversation and dialogue that, no matter how well-intentioned, typically does not result in change, action, or (to use a ‘Christian word’) conversion (in either a broad or narrow sense). Our little group is sensing that we’ve spent a lot of time conspiring and dreaming but not so much doing.
This idea from Žižek came to mind, and I shared it with my friends, wondering how it might be further appropriated for our conversation. Nothing like Oscar Wilde and Žižek serving as the impetus for creative faith initiatives!
Brennan Manning said that the “single greatest cause of atheism is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle.” I’ve heard that Manning quote since I was old enough to buy my first DC Talk cassette tape, but always associated that with those other people who are not “real Christians.”
Our group has a desire to serve and live out the things we talk about and see lives (our own and others) and communities change, but haven’t done so. For me, the Wilde/Žižek connection made me think about my own situation specifically. Could it be that the worst kind of Christians (i.e. me and potentially you) are those who are genuine and passionate about their faith but spend so much time talking about living differently that they don’t actually live differently?
(1) Is the well-intentioned Christian (me) the worst kind of Christian because my lack of real action allows for the perpetuation of a faith marked by passenger-seat-passivity? [My answer: Yes]
(2) How do I move from blogging/thinking/conspiring about wanting to be a different kind of person and actually doing it – actually living a new kind of life? [My answer: Acknowledge my “worst”ness to myself, to others, and to God and, in community, start living into a new reality]