My son told me recently that at his Christian college a student has chosen to fly Buddhist prayer flags off the dorm balcony.
Perfect. Of course they did. It is a classic picture of the culture at this moment. A self-revealing snapshot.
Too many years ago to count, Alan Bloom came out with a celebrated (and prophetic) book called The Closing of the American Mind. In it, Bloom - a university professor - observed that the last value held by college students in this postmodern world is tolerance. A value held passionately. Almost religiously.
Those college students grew up, had children of their own, and shaped the culture we have at present. We are so steeped in the tolerance=compassion=human rights=all faiths have goodness to them=the important thing is to be sincere mindset now that a Christian student flying Buddhist prayer flags is met with this sort of reaction: "It's kinda cool." "It's not a big deal." "It's a symbol of tolerance." "It's a way of standing with the oppressed Tibetan people."
It is, in fact, very naive.
The flags contain prayers (mantras) and symbols to gods other than Jesus Christ. They are, in fact, an invitation for demons to come and take roost. By your permission.
But doesn't my saying so seem just a little...too obsessive? I mean, c'mon. Lighten up. As proof that we are so accustomed to the laid-back paganism of our times, notice than on the whole we are more uncomfortable with someone saying, "umm...that's demonic" than we are with a Christian student flying Buddhist prayer flags at a Christian college.
It would be a very uncomfortable community exercise to ask, what does James 1:27 mean for this culture right now? "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (1:27). We are really, really big on the social justice part right now. That is super cool. Very "in." But we are unsure if we want to deal with the second half of the passage. That part is not so cool at the moment.
So, the prayer flags summon away.