"Damn the man! Save the empire!"

What am I all about? What am I striving for? Am I working towards anything?

These question (and there more sinister siblings) haunt me. Amid any amount of theological conversations, any attempt at art, every thought and emotion, these words haunt me. They hide in ambush, waiting for me to have a good day or two, and then they unleash their plot. It is never an out right attack… oh no, they are to crafty for that. It is always a temptation and the resulting fleshly actions that they wait for. It is the traditional bait and trap, and I am caught again. Something happens, I find my self acting out this separation between God and I, and then the questions start… their not even doubt at first, more suspicion. But that quickly digresses into a full blown doubting of everything… yes even the existence of God. I am not too proud to admit that I am prone to failure and doubt. Have I been deceiving my self this whole time? What difference does it make what I believe? What do I even believe… the questions grow more and more insidious.

But then I read things like How much of a loser The Door is, and I find hope. Hope comes from the oddest places…

One of the finest pieces of ’90’s cinema is “Empire Records”. It is a day (“Rex Manning Day”) in the life of a record shop. Many, many quotes come from this movie, but my favorite is this: “Damn the man! Save the Empire!” The thing is, it’s not just some off handed statement; this is a battle cry, a call to arms. In the film, the associate manager (Lucas) of Empire Records discovers that the stores owner is going to sell the shop, and the manager is trying to buy it and save it from becoming a corporate casualty… he wants his record shop, not some “music world”. Well, in his zeal, Lucas takes all the deposit money from the day, drives to Atlantic city, and in a valiant attempt to win the finances that will secure the future of the shop, loses everything.
Well, things look grim for the group of slackers and drama queens who have found their family in those record aisles… that is until the burnt out, half crazy Mark impulsively rushes out to speak to the news crew who are covering the arrest of a shop lifter. Mark proceeds to announce on live TV that there is going to be a street party that night where all are invited to come, listen to a band, buy some beer, buy some music, and save the empire. “Damn the man! Save the Empire!” The gauntlet is thrown, and the sub culture of slackers, skaters, rockers, stoners, and the rest show up. The keg is tapped, the music is loud, and money is given. The empire is saved! (I always want to cry at that part… *sniff**sniff*)

They have something worth fighting for… do we?

Do I fight for ethics? For orthodoxy? For the Bible? For holiness? I’m sorry, but none of that stirs my blood… nothing makes me want to run because I can’t think of something better to do, but know that something needs to be done. All this Christian stuff that has become our subculture, our pious cloister, makes me sick. I don’t want to fight for something as useless and fleeting as American Christianity… full of useless wrangling with words and terms, full of health and wealth and a generation (or two) seeking a sign! I want something I can stand up and shout for, something worth taking up arms for… and I don’t mean violence. It goes something like this: who I am is different than who you are, yet what differences we all have are the very things that can come together to achieve ground shaking results.

So what is worth shaking the Earth for… what did Jesus leave us to fight for? What is worth tapping the keg and turning the amps up to eleven?

“Damn the man! Save the Empire!”: to paraphrase Mark, Save the community. God’s People: there’s something I can get behind. I love with Paul to see us made whole and complete and enlightened. He had a heart to see Jesus’ words made real, and those words are worth fighting for, the only thing worth fighting for. The kingdom of God made real among people who proudly ware the name of Christ. This inspires me, this stirs my blood… this is what gives Hope, and Hope does not fail… true Hope that is.

This is what I am all about. This is what I am striving for. This is what all my energies and efforts work towards. The community of God, for without us healthy and whole, this world has a hell of a chance. In Christ, we are the hope of the world for we are the ones who make Christ real to the hurting, the broken, the tired, the lame… we invite them to our ranks because they are just as we are, and in this condition of humility God sees fit to make us His kingdom.

Yes, this is Hope… this saves me from the spiral into meaninglessness… this is worth fighting for.

  • “Martyrdom is folly if one is to die for the sake of a philosophical stance.” – William Tighe

    “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for a brother.” – Jesus

  • “So,” I constantly wonder, “How do I go about seeing this in the every day, in the every life that I encounter?”
    This question has been on my mind alto lately, along with the coupling thought that Jesus said to lay your life down for a brother is the greatest love… laying down your life isn’t necessarily dieing. Any thoughts? Anyone? Class? Anyone? Bueller?

  • gracechild

    Okay, first of all I just have to clarify what you’ve written so I can respond to it. It seems to me the gist is this:

    I screw up frequently, so logically, I’m thankful for hope for the underdog.
    And one of the biggest hopes for the underdog is the opportunity to fight for something meaningful.
    But what does “Modern Christianityâ€? (to make a sweeping generalization) offer us to fight for? Orthodoxy? Ethics? The next “Purpose Drivenâ€? craze to hit the shelves?
    Cultural Savage, it seems, would rather devote his neo.vive to the health, enlightenment, and unification of the community – “God’s People.â€?

    Okay, so now my response: If you’re looking for a fight – that is, something worth fighting for – understand that battling for the health, enlightenment and unification of the Body is a worthy cause! In his last moments before His trials, Christ must have felt that it was important to pray for the unity of His followers (John 17:20-26). And throughout Paul’s epistles, you’ll find themes of spiritual health, enlightenment and unity. He was literally passionate about the wholeness of the Body.

    So we’ve established that this is a good cause, but like Cultural Savage asked, “How do I deal with seeing the need and watching it go unnoticed? How do I address the fact that “without [the Church] healthy and whole, this world has a hell of a chanceâ€? when “Modern Christianityâ€? has devoted itself to all kinds of less worthy battles?

    Well, CS, my response to you would be continue more of what you are doing. Like CS Lewis, pick up your pen and write. The Bible compares the Word to a sword. In like fashion, may your pen be a weapon in this war.

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