Harlem Shake and Yee Sang


Heard of the Harlem Shake?

A couple of extracts from what Kate Shellnutt writes in the Christianity Today website:

Christians – whose faith relies on the context of its own teachings and symbole – generally need to take interest in where cultural phenomena come from and what they mean…. Our lives as Christians are all about the story of the Gospel, and we dont want our traditions distanced from that story – by us or anyone else.”

She rightly pointed to this practice of abstraction and shallow engagement which encourages churches to take on commoditized cultural symbols and adopt them as vehicles of “clean fun” which apparently allows us to takes ourselves less seriously and identify better with those around us/outside the church.

Balanced and thoughtful? Or just a pining for the fjords moment?

I recently suggested the small group I have been meeting with, which is a small group of my previous church (LifeGate Church in Glen Waverley) should think about refraining from making all those statement which preceded an yee sang meal. Or more accurately, sayings which accompany the tossing of yee sang.

Someone said to me that yee sang was served in a church lunch, which was well and good, except that church leaders lead in the act of tossing yee sang.

I doubt it is wrong to say like churches in the US adopting the Harlem Shake, Asian churches tossing yee sang are likewise into abstraction and shallow engagement when they take on a commoditized cultural symbol of yee sang – that of pursuit of material wealth – as a vehicle to apparently “identify with the world”.

The Harlem Shake and Yee Sang have something in common – neither of them have anything to do with the culture and tradition that underpins Christianity. The Gospel narratives provide these frameworks and a happy go lucky attitude in shallo engagements of these cultural icons do nothing but please our pining-for-the-fjord- idiocy. 

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