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I came across this intriguing post from Patheos’ site. The thesis is that in the aftermath of such things as the Scopes monkey trial, being a Christian has become a marker of low status, and that this explains both its decline and lack of appeal as well as the failure of attempts to “engage the culture” by making it appear hip.
The idea behind the “engaging the culture” movement was that, rather than withdrawing from the surrounding culture as their fundamentalist cousins did, evangelicals should go forth to meet it. The expected outcome of this going forth was a revival of Christian faith.
It sort of makes sense. If enough evangelicals, the idea was, could be trained to engage the surrounding culture, especially in the culture-making arenas of politics, education and the media, eventually these well-placed agents of change could turn things around.
What this plan never took into account is the dynamics of social status. Evangelicals sought to engage the culture by being relevant, by creating works of art, by offering good arguments for their positions. None of these addressed the real problem: that Christian belief simply isn’t cool, and that very few people want to lower their social status by identifying publicly with it.
I suspect that there is some truth to it. Your thoughts?