We drive a Buick. It doesn’t really feel like it, but it’s getting to be an “old” Buick. Getting close to 300,000 kms on the clock. It’s a 1996, inherited from Ruth’s late parents, Myrrl and Ethel.
I keep a supply of answers ready for the ever-new crowd, always upgrading everything from iPhones to counter tops: “Like, are you still driving that thing?”
“We’ve got our sights set on 300,000 kms,” I say. “It’s so quiet and comfy on a long trip… we just can’t bear to part with it.” “We like the cushy velour. There’s nothing better for a comfortable snooze in the back — as long as Ruth stays off the rumble strips!”
But my favourite stock response is, “Unless somebody decides to be counter-cultural, H. Richard Niebuhr will have laboured in vain.” I like the way eyes glaze over at this one. Plus, it harks up a favourite old text, Christ and Culture, which we treated as inspired back in college. While H. Richard doesn’t extol a rabid Christian anti-culturalism, he does call for a kind of prophetic stance against culture. Like, we can’t just allow the culture to call the tunes for the Christian community. And that could include the “planned obsolescence” of our western economies.
To put it in the man’s own words: “The disorder of secularism is perhaps nowhere more apparent in our contemporary Church than in the extent to which we have permitted the order of the world to creep into the order of the Church… That the church should carry out its mission to the men in the middle classes of capitalist society is doubtless a part of the it’s calling; but that the mission should result in the formation of a middle-class church which defends the secular outlook and interests of that class is an evident corruption.”
Maybe I need to put that on a Buick bumper sticker. Condensed version of course!