Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mummer's Farce

... All our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told my an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

I was involved in a bit of an online discussion the other day that centered on an important hot-button topic of Christianity. I very much enjoyed being a part of this back and forth with people that approached this debate with thought and respect. There was no hate speak, no angry words, no ultimatums. Yet given what I read and saw of the various posts, it seems to me that much of Christianity is a bit of a mummer's farce.

Mummers were bands of villagers in medieval times who would perform sketches in the public square in return for food or money. The farces played out typically had threadbare, scattered plots with lots of ad libs, disconnected pantomime, and bizarre cariacatures. So, what does this have to do with my observations of Christiantiy? Well the point is that in my online discussion there were several examples of:
  • Scriptures quoted that were made up out of whole cloth. They sounded "biblical" on the surface, but were not defensible in light of the teachings of Jesus.
  • Scriptures quoted correctly, but entirely out of context and thus dangerously invalid.
  • Folks inventing their own flavor of theology based on their own upbringing, environment, and "local" culture.
  • Folks whose personal beliefs did not take into account the full range of complexities relevant to form a rational argument that remained defensible under questioning.
All of those involved brought something of their own to the discussion to flavor the stew of the arguments, however many views that people argued for with passion, could not hold water when subjected to a more carefully considered and structured debate. Yet their incomplete and often unfounded views deeply shaped their Christian beliefs and how they lived their lives. All of this plays out to the script of the mummer's farce. To be certain, I too was one of the actors on that stage playing their part.