Is it not evident that the U.S. has become a nation of herds? Arguably it was a herd that elected our current President, just as it was a herd that grew fascinated with things like an aging man singing “Pants on the Ground”….not one of our finest moments.
Specifically Christian herd mentality is easy to spot from the inside, meaning by Christians ourselves. It’s also easily spotted by seculars yet almost universally misunderstood. Things such as the churches position on abortion and gay marriage can be largely attributed to herd mentality, along with the coincident boycotts and bans of companies and products that happen to openly support ideas counter to the Christian herd preference. These things are lumped together with perceived rigid rules and dogma and used effectively in the secular world to paint the church as something different than what it is….or at least different than what it should be.
I was driving to a Florida coast and back over the past several days, grabbing a vacation before school starts, one made all the more precious by the fact that my whole group went along including the college kids. As an aside, the time spent was blessed, amazing.
On the drive this idea of herd mentality was first birthed then reinforced repeatedly by things that, unless you have broken free of the Personal Jesus ™ and the requisite herd driven ideas, you’d never notice because those things are all around us all the time as the water is to the fish who says, “Huh? Me wet? Get outta here!”.
Start with an Alabama rural radio broadcast preacher who, like most rural southerners, was pushing way too much air through his clenched teeth at manifest the “S” sound. He said that he sat and watched as denominations offered one way tickets to hell and that the only reality was that personal relationship. The uninitiated would never dream that this man was under the influence of evangelical feminism, heck no one who says “essshhhh” for “S” could be anything less than a true southern gospel preacher could they? This man, though, confirmed he was part of the Personal Jesus TM herd, that massive herd moving as one organism yet comprised of various groups who each view themselves as radically different in denouncing religion. He got me started.
Those silly monument signs outside the churches across Mississippi and Alabama served to reinforce the idea of the herd. One sign in particular reminded me of another aspect to the herd that we have talked about before but not from the herd mentality perspective. One church was announcing the weekend showing of “Soul Surfer” on their large screen. Think back to the release of the string of bad Christian movies that have incited the herd, and how churches rent whole movie theaters for opening night, embark on advertising campaigns to get folks out the see that hey, these Christians can make great movies too! Not. But the herd follows, and can be budgeted and banked when making these train wrecks.
Secular herds at first seem less bothersome than Christian ones. After all, who cares if people are silly enough to jump on every pop culture trend that comes along?
Well, not so fast.
I care that it is herd mentality that defines George Zimmerman as a racist murderer because that’s an easy answer and since it agrees with the herd will gain you at worst a neutral reaction and at best an empathetic knowing that you too are morally outraged? That you have no flipping clue about the case is not important, gimme that mic and let me chime in with more histrionic banality. This herd is not reflective of synergy between the Christian and secular herd mentality per se. And, this has calmed a bit because it has been displaced by what is a coincident Christian and secular herd.
The herd to which I refer is the one seething with urges for vicarious vengeance on Jerry Sandusky to the point where even normal solidly rational men fall to pure emoting in order to justify the over reach of fining an institution and punishing anyone unfortunate enough to be in range of this emotional claymore that’s been detonated.
People who are unaffiliated utterly with the day today football program will lose jobs. Kids who recently earned or hoped to earn scholarships to a prestigious program have their achievement ripped from them. Christian and secular alike the herd wants its pound of flesh, and some even say “by God” they are gonna get it. When asked how this is helpful and why punishing anyone and everyone remotely culpable was insufficient, members of the combined Christian and secular herd fall back on clichés about teaching powerful lessons and showing that this will not be tolerated.
Now, just for a moment, think about the power of the combined Christian and secular herd. The make-up of the Christian herd is increasingly the liberal, even libertine followers of the Personal Jesus TM, ready to march for social justice over anything, because well, it feels right. The secular synergists have been carrying that water alone for a long time so in a perverse relationship between these two groups they represent a massive social force to be reckoned with. Make no mistake the Christian demographic in this herd is the fastest growing Christian demographic in the U.S.
And they don’t hold men in very high regard.
I’m not sure it can be stopped to be honest. The Christian pool is already only an inch deep and infinitely wide, or to use another metaphor the tent is pretty much over everyone. As agents for societal change, Christian men and women who have swallowed a red pill are like a very huddled group standing before a thundering herd.