The Gospel According to Tyler Durden

I realized as I was thinking about this series that one of the major premises is incorrect: we are running the church now, or at least part of it.  I realized this when I realized that one of the most vocal Christian leaders today is from our generation.  I cringed a little, the way I do when I think of our generation’s politics.  His name is Tyler Durden1.  I went to his church almost twenty years ago.

Tyler Durden’s flock met in an abandoned Methodist church on a fairly steep hill somewhere in the vicinity of the Laurelhurst district of Seattle.  They had candles and poetry readings and an article written about them in Mother Jones magazine.  They were postmodern2, whatever that means.  All I knew was the people at the church who were waiting for us to go away hated anything postmodern and that candles and poetry were way better than fake plastic plants and the American flag.  So I thought I’d check it out.

I didn’t go there for long, however.  As I got closer to it, I realized it wasn’t really what I was looking for, and that it wasn’t really all that postmodern after all.  I didn’t find Tyler Durden’s blow-up-the-outside-world eschatology all that useful.  I found his sucking-on-the-barrel-of-a-gun Calvinism a bit too dangerous for my liking.  And his penis-spliced-into-the-closing-credits view of Christian leadership was isolating to those of us who never played football or joined the Marines.

I moved away and lost touch with what they were up to at his church, but every once and a while I’d hear some random quote from him, usually about oral sex or Jesus being a badass instead of a “limp-wristed hippy”.  And then this happened, and I had to wonder if this could possibly be the same person they’d written that Mother Jones article about less than a decade earlier.  Back then he was making controversial statements to distance himself from the religious right.  He’s still making controversial statements, but now he is the religious right.  One time recently I was back in Seattle and realized they weren’t meeting in some hundred year old abandoned church, but in a new building planted right in the middle of one of the most expensive commercial districts of the Puget Sound.  Whatever happened to those postmoderns with their poetry readings and candles?  Could this possibly be the same church I once thought would deliver me from becoming an angry old white guy?  Ever since Jerry Falwell kicked the bucket, Mark Driscoll has been in the top handful of angry white guys in the Christian church.  And he’s not getting any younger or any less controversial.  These days its plagiarism that’s getting him in trouble, but that’s only the latest fruit from a tree that went bad a long time ago.

Is this what has become of our generation?  Twenty years ago we had Winona Ryder, Kurt Cobain and Snoop Dog.  Today we’ve got Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and Mark Driscoll.  We’ve still got a chip on our shoulder, the only difference is now we have enough institutional power that it’s not about criticizing the failing ideals of the previous generation, but more of a scorched earth pissing contest with the aging hippies who accidentally brought us into the world during the summer of love forty-six and a half years ago.  We are well on our way to being grumpier old men than anything we’ve experienced in our own lives.  If this is what happens when we have power in the church, then maybe a few fake plastic trees aren’t so bad after all.

So maybe instead of saying that it’s advent and we’re still waiting on the church, I should have called this series it’s advent and God is still waiting on us to get our shit together.

1-      Well actually, his name is Mark Driscoll.  I made this analogy before I realized that this article in the New York Times four years ago claimed that members favorite movie was Fight Club.  This might sound cool at first, but it’s actually kind of chillingly creepy, at least I think so based on the connections I make a little farther down.  And plagiarism is a thing, its even a thing that comes up later in this blog, so I thought I should point this out.

2-      At some point in the past twenty years, the term postmodern morphed into emergent.

Advent Series:

Week 1: It’s Advent and we’re still waiting on the church to figure us out.

Week 2: Twenty years of Gen X and the Church

Week 3: The Gospel According to Tyler Durden

Week 4: Jesus in the Wasteland

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