Saturday, 20 February 2010

Formula Christianity Reasserted

McLaren wants Christianity to be more like the Hungaroring and less like Monte Carlo, where its place in the season is sheer tradition but just about traps everyone in to a pre-race pecking order. The McLaren has been through a redesign, as it suggests a wider redesign of cars and circuits.

In 2009 the Hungarian Grand Prix was won by a McLaren car; at the time Archbishop Jensen of Australia had a championship lead for evangelicals, but the flashy McLaren is making another pitch for first place with his 2010 car called A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith, built in London by HarperOne.

Certainly the McLaren laps the Williams several times in every race, although the boss Bernie Ecclescake has described the Williams driver as "Spectacularly useless and dangerous," and wonders instead if John Sendmehome, of the Eborgum Team, wouldn't be the better driver. But as the Williams car becomes more and more traditional and bureaucatic, isn't the McLaren car just turning into a liberal construction?

The car makes ten pit stops to pick up these questions:

  1. What is the overarching story line of the Bible?
  2. How should the Bible be understood?
  3. Is God violent?
  4. Who is Jesus and why is he important?
  5. What is the Gospel?
  6. What do we do about the church?
  7. Can we find a way to address sexuality without arguing about it?
  8. Can we find a better way of viewing the future?
  9. How should followers of Jesus relate to other religions?
  10. How can we translate our quest into action?

The McLaren doesn't motor on original sin, but Genesis 3 is a story of coming of age (presumably 930 laps before scrapping), and the car does not need to follow the track of substitutionary atonement. You won't find hell or heaven as places along the circuit. At no point does God deliberately cause any crashes, and to believe that a McLaren would rather be a bicycle in the Tour de France.

In terms of the original co-drivers, McLaren wants Paul's driving understood in the light of Jesus's technique, needing a new construction, rather than Jesus's driving understood according to Paul's technique, given how cars are normally constructed. This, though, gets more complicated (see below); however, a Chinese operative once suggested this at a quick pit stop during an unsuccessful race and so the whole car was redesigned. Otherwise even Protestant cars should have their teams located in Rome, using (as Protestants also do) the inheritance of Greco-Roman techniques in understanding basic car construction. Such was the way to a fixed manual of car understanding and repairs, what to exclude and the parts to use in any repair. McLaren's car is more Hebraic in design.

So is the McLaren different?

McLaren's car is deliberately lighter. It tries to avoid the heavy matanarrative power play of the racing authorities. This way the car emerges out of the pack to attempt to win, and is one reason why the Williams car is being dragged back and back, and wants a Covenant to slow down all other cars by taking account of how slowly the slowest runs and talking about the problem endlessly over the drivers' radios.

Some people see the McLaren car as trying to shut down the design of other Christian cars, that in its very flexibility it produces a new dogma of design.

But the biggest criticism is surely that the particularly liberal Christian cars have been there before. In other words, the design categories already exist, and so the McLaren design is less evangelical and more liberal. The Chalke was a car that went across the line in a similar manner, although these days it seems more interested in giving younger drivers a basic driving school education.

McLaren claim that the questions lying at the heart of the redesign are not dogmatic engineering solutions but means to provide space for contributions from other engineers. It's less of a race, that way, and more of a quest, despite claims to flexibility and fluidity for race handling. In any case, racers are free to draw on any designs they wish, although they are quick to shout about what is legitimate and what is not. What McLaren regards as space other makes regard as being divisive, which is why many think liberals ought to run their own races - yet the emerging car and its designs ought to be able to prod others.

The difficulty is that with the other races going on indeed some of the religious designers are becoming more dogmatic. The threat of being hammered easily engenders a fear of confronting, prodding, or simply questioning. Cars might be written off as if they become polluted by liberal designs and who they train with - but the McLaren car wants to retain its links with its old racing pals.

And this is the problem.

The car still goes to the racing circuits at Caesarea Philippi, Colossians (where Paul sang a lot) and Philippians, and affirms the Apostles and Nicene Manuals. So it is a clear case here of Jesus's driving understood not just according to Paul's (and others) techniques, but the whole Greco-Roman rulebook, and not the way around McLaren apparently recommends. To make this into a double contradiction, McLaren asserts that after the Damascus route Paul changed his techniques according to Jesus's driving. If so, what's the problem? Was or was not Paul the instructor adding formality to the more road-attached and fluid Hebraic driving school of Jesus? If the Greco-Roman approach so restricted car designs, why retain addiction to the manuals of hundreds of years later affirming the philosophical dogmatic approach? Perhaps because McLaren wants to keep 'in' with the existing designs and designers.

As for these contemporaries, McLaren wants to be friendly and distant from drivers Wright and Borg. It's still the Greco-Roman thought processes there too.

In other words, it is just a revisionist design, and in so far as it is Nicene and Apostles Manuals are asserted, this only represents a shift from evangelical to liberal Christian, as part of that particular race, remaining part of an increasingly argumentative set of garages and designers. Formula Christianity is reasserted: the flag is the same chequered appearance.

The problem with all Christian cars is that they are stuck with Bronze Age near Eastern standards and Greco-Roman power circuits, whereas the secular cars are evolving and produce efficient, sustainable answers in their own races. The Christian race, as a result, is becoming boring and increasingly ignored. The religious needs to come into the secular. McLaren's construction, that long ago started in a fundamentalist garage, wants to move on but has only added a few, limited, playful controls with lighter construction materials.

The flexibility of the Pluralist car, however, is that it runs in different conditions, takes account of modern thought, realises that indeed much knowledge is socially constructed, and that the rules have changed. The old manuals are nothing but inheritances.

3 comments:

hugh said...

Another nice one Adrian :)

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Murdoch Matthew said...

Oddly, I found that the surface conceit (auto racing)was so transparent that I was reading the subtext directly.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

You've lost me somewhere between Mark Webber's Protestant ethic and the Virgin Mary's hydraulic problems.