School Spirit, Religion and Subversion

My friend Terrance wrote yesterday about CalSO (Cal Student Orientation) and school spirit:

Loud, yes. Annoying, not so much. I remember my CalSO session the summer before college started, the loud love for Cal and all things blue and gold.

What would it be like if Christians were as vocal, visible, and loud about our loyalty to our Lord and Savior? Society might call us a cult. Why is that? Why is it far more acceptable to scream and cheer in public for my school, than to be similarly expressive of my faith and hope in Jesus? If we were walking down the street, cheering for our school, people would just say, ‘Wow, look at that school spirit!’ But if we were to go around proclaiming Jesus as Christ, how would people react?

Loud public proclamation used to take the form of church bells summoning a parish to prayer in certain hours of the day, whether people actually went to church or not to pray corporately; in Muslim countries, you may hear a muezzin leading the call to Friday service, as well as to the five daily prayers, from one of the mosque’s minarets. Politically, Switzerland constitutionally banned minarets late last year, and Terrance rightly points out that the same applies culturally in America to public expressions of allegiance to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

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I do use the word allegiance quite deliberately, as some readers of this blog may well know. School spirit is about allegiance to one school, in this case UC Berkeley over and against, say, Stanford, UCLA or USC. Most people expect school spirit, however, to be quite innocuous to the form and stability of the civil authority; the same isn’t true of the Christian commonwealth as classically conceived (nor is it true of Islam, unless you presuppose a liberal society). The world’s Caesars and Sadducees just can’t stand the threat to their power that the Christian bond is, with its heavenly citizenship: the religio of YHWH means other official cults, even the ones without a god explicitly named, are numbered, numbered, weighed, divided. The Christian doesn’t pay homage to Caesar, and for this insolence he will suffer martyrdom.

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The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, but not so with God’s people, says the Lord. Why do the nations so furiously rage together, and why do the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his Anointed. The nations demand a scapegoat for their sense of order, but the resurrected Lamb, once gibbeted for that very purpose, now demands their obeisance. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

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So when Terrance asks, ‘Why aren’t we declaring our faith loudly and boldly? Why aren’t we boasting about our hope in the Christ?’, I can’t help observing both that this should indeed be easy and ‘natural’ (i.e. normal and to be expected) in one sense and that in another sense such declaration means so much more than it appears. Terrance, I do appreciate your zeal; the significance of our faith being allegiance to a Kingdom, a Kingdom manifest on this earth but not from this world, makes holding to a public faith even weightier than it appears.

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One response to “School Spirit, Religion and Subversion

  1. Pingback: Christian Rappers, Challenge the Elemental Structures « Cogito, Credo, Petam

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