Thursday, February 25, 2016

Inconspicuous Hope - Cindy Brandt

“Whenever I’m approached by an evangelist – by a Christian missionary – I know I’m up against someone so obsessed and narrowly focused that it will do me absolutely no good to try and explain or share my own value system. I never want to be rude to them, of course, but never have any idea how to respond to their attempts to convert me; in short order, I inevitably find myself simply feeling embarrassed—first for them, and then for us both. I’m always grateful when such encounters conclude.” – K.C., Fresno
A few years ago, John Shore collected comments from Craigslist sites all over America asking What Non-Christians Want Christians To Hear. The results are cringe-worthy. As a progressive Christian, I consider myself part of a movement to try to re-vamp the brand of Christianity, defining ourselves as love over hate, inclusion over wall-building, listening instead of preaching. But it often feels like much of the internal conversations teasing out the nuances of faith is all that it is, internal. People outside of the Christian faith don’t care to engage in it. All our efforts to “breath new life” into religious structures corrupted by nationalism, consumerism, racism, sexism, and whatever other -isms, seem to be vaporizing into thin air. Turning the big ship of conservative evangelism, which seems to be setting a steady course towards dogmatic fundamentalism, is proving to be a futile endeavor—so much so that Christian ethicist, David Gushee, in his article for Religion News Services titled, “Conservative and progressive US evangelicals head for divorce,” suggests we abandon the ship and set off on separate ways altogether.
As a faith blogger, tracking these larger trends of religion, getting a feel for the cultural pulse is at least fascinating to me, and at most helps me to find the role I play in shaping public conversations about faith. As a Christian and a human being, realizing that my scathing criticisms against Christian institutions who systematically harm those within it, is not much more than throwing tiny white eggs against a large brick wall, is incredibly demoralizing.Telling atheist friends that no, my Christian faith is about love, feels weak against evidence of Christians spewing hate in the public arena. For every sensible, compassionate, subversive Christian article I post onto my facebook wall, Matt Walsh’s rhetorical blog posts reaffirming the status quo are being shared and retweeted multiple times more. It makes me want to immediately run and soak in a, what my friend Kay Bruner calls, sweary bubble bath.