How can we Christians move forward, when our very existence seems imperiled? We already know the way, for we've been through this before.
But we have forgotten; we have cryptomnesia. Cryptomnesia is the reappearance of a suppressed or forgotten memory which is mistaken for a new experience. (Collins English Dictionary).
The world is changing, and it is changing fast. Social media friendships, global commerce, online education, populist uprisings, e-books, and smartphones are just a sample of the Internet's growing impact on our lives. Americans are rapidly becoming more mobile, worldly, and secular--all while it feels like the church we know is being left behind.
Growing numbers of "spiritual but not religious" show disinterest in church, and mainline churches fear imminent demise. How do we find a way forward?
Ironically, by looking backward. We are not the first to experience
globalization. In fact, the early church emerged in an age of globalization--the product of the Greco-Roman Empire and its mammoth road-building efforts on three continents. People were connected in ways they had never experienced: Roman citizens were bombarded with new cultures, new commerce, new foods, new ideas, new philosophies, new religions. It was an era of massive dislocation, and at the same time, exactly the right environment for Christianity to emerge and thrive.
A special thank you to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
Cryptomnesia: How a Forgotten Memory Could Save the Church, by Christine Chakoian is a thought-provoking and powerful exploration into our world’s changing times—and how we are shifting as Christians with opportunities to engage in new ways. The choices we make, the places we go, the words we say, and the actions we take all testify to the name of Christ that we bear.
Looking Backward, Moving Forward. More and more ordinary Christians are and will continue to be interacting with people of other faiths, and some with no faith; in our workplaces, at school, and over coffee with friends. Rather than see this as a threat to our beliefs, we need to view this as an opportunity for us to witness to what we believe.
Cyptomnesia (forgotten memory) is exactly what we are manifesting in the Christian community today. As we are aware, the twenty-first century church is undergoing a major crisis. When it comes to traditional practices, they are almost non-existent. Denominations once secure in their memberships and financial security are under pressure to survive.
Social media and the internet has changed our lives, as we become more mobile, and the population, becoming less interested in the church. However, when you think about it, even though we have not experienced the mobile and social world as it is today, previously; the author explains how in the past history there were major changes and connections which were unprecedented at the time; similar to today’s changing world.
In looking at similarities, Roman citizens were bombarded with new cultures, commerce, foods, ideas, philosophies, cults, and religions. Christine Chakoian explores the challenges the earliest Christians faced and the possibilities they encountered and the relation to the familiar ground, taking us to a place we have once visited in history.
From breakneck technology, with millions of people creating digital content every minute —the web; the world’s largest ungoverned space, everywhere we look industries are changing due to technology: from entertainment, retail, corporate and manufacturing sector, education, government and non-profits, so it should not be so surprising religious institutions would be any different.
The trends are becoming individualistic and carries forward in one’s spiritual practices. Everyone is free to make choices. Presently individualism is the fastest-growing expression of spirituality.
One-fifth of the US public and a third of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentage in history. However, there is hope for new pathways. As in everything in our human lives, in the midst of our loss and grief, there is still cause for hope and change. I loved this: “Just because we’re not seeing religion thrive in the way it once did doesn’t mean that people are not spiritually hungry.”
Among American’s 46 million adults who claim to be unaffiliated, many still claim to be spiritual or even religious. Researchers note that two thirds (68%) of them say they believe in God. Spiritual, not religious. And 21% say they pray every day.
We are shifting and Cryptomnesia has dulled our memories into thinking this is all new. But in fact, as the hidden memories come back to us, we just may be amazed as God was our refuge and strength before, and He is still there leading us on new paths on once-familiar ground.
Sustaining intimate, accountable Christian relationships in faith communities is crucial and we can get there with different models and small group ministries. When small groups nurture generosity, compassion, and openness to the world and find creative ways to witness to God’s love in both word and deed, they can help fulfill its mission.
Highly recommend for all readers, as informative, as well as leaving the reader with positive views for the future. Chakoian delivers a powerful message, with well-developed research and scriptures; presented in an easy to read format, and an ideal read for churches as they are encouraged to embrace the change, positively, rather than negatively.
Amazing how much we have in common today, with the first Christians. We soon forget their numerous challenges, doubts, and rejection. “Jesus will lead us forward along a faithful path, into the future God has in store.”