||[Jan. 14th, 2010|12:30 am]
The American Caliban
The word implies aristocracy, wealth, romance, opulence, and a continuous social scene of balls and parties and comings-out. The legacy of ten thousand Jane Austen imitators has made a million prides and prejudices into a story form called simply "a Regency." And the frothy effortless wealth implied in that word has glued it to every kind of product: cars, air fresheners, pet foods, mobile home parks, bathroom tile, insurance plans. For a whole generation it was the noise that meant luxury and sophistication in a perfectly generic context.
The other night I was taking the long way home down Pickering in Whittier and saw this place: http://rcci.org/
It is a religious organization that started as a church and is now an entire complex, what we call a "mega-church." As usual it is a charismatic Protestant Christian organization. The church inhabits a working-class town with a broadly diverse population.
My guess is that "Regency" got put on their name in the beginning because it just sounded good. The name suggests success and respect. I doubt anyone meant to suggest that the church would consist of a series of fancy balls in which young ladies and young gentlemen would waltz and exchange witticisms over ices and champagne. I don't think they use Regencies as texts in Bible study, either. It's probably just a bit of American class-conscious marketing languages seeping in.
But what would it be like if the church was based on an actual theological regency? God is somehow incapacitated, and Jesus is too young to run the Universe. So we'll just help out, here, and run things on behalf of the kid until he's ready. It may take a while! Lord knows it's complicated running everything and he's barely sitting up in his crib.
This is going well. Let's throw some parties! Lots of them! Bring out the champagne and ices!
Being God's regent in Whittier, California might not be such a bad gig. But I don't think I'll suggest it to the pastor. He and his wife seem settled enough with their current theology.