Wednesday, October 29, 2008

spreading the good nooz

There is a rather polite evangelist* on campus today, urging people to come and pray with him for peace, tranquility, etc. One of his promptings was that people should come and talk to him if they wanted to "learn more about this Jesus."

I suppose it's part of the traditional patter of evangelists, the pose of being an apostle and bravely trekking out into unknown territory with an unheard-of message, that leads them to make ridiculous statements like this. You can't really be part of US culture without knowing who "this Jesus" is, or what Christians believe about Jesus. And this campus is in the Central Valley, in one of the most Christian and church-going regions in the US.

This also seems to presume that the primary reason people don't believe in Christian faith is lack of exposure. Most atheists I know were raised Christian. They didn't fail to hear about it, they failed to have faith in it.

Nor does it strike me as particularly likely that this will sell Christianity to religious non-Christians, though I can't be certain of that.

It's just odd, to me, to think of someone having the - I dunno, chutzpah? - to believe that he can just walk onto a campus and inform people about a 2000 year old religion, as though they've never heard of it, and sell it to them.

Plus, I'm always tempted to walk up to the guy and say something like, "oh, that Jesus! I thought you meant Jesus Gomez, and I was thinking, geez, I thought he was just a pharmacist!"

* As far as that goes. Some people would consider any evangelist to be rude as hell, because they believe religion is private and not something you should be yelling at people about, or even speaking calmly through a microphone at people about. I don't know from rude. I do, however, markedly prefer the obnoxious fire-and-brimstone screamer types, because it's so much more volatile and dangerous when they come around. There's a little bit of Nietzsche in me, too, that says "Yep, that's what it's all about" when they scream about everybody going to hell.


Dee said...

Hell must be quite comfortable. Much fun. All the best people are there. People I've read, people I've met, people I miss.
Don't be afraid.
I watched Rowan Atkinson at the beginning of his career delivering a stand up and I understood : there's nothing to fear in Hell, except for the lawyers.
Cheer up!

I'm talking Christian Hell here, I don't believe they would let me in the Islamic one ( I'll be an old, unattractive woman, not some wished for virgin ) and I don't know many other religions with Hell per se, apart from these two.

Anonymous said...

This has been lurking in my feed reader for some time. I've been debating on commenting on it. I guess I decided that I will.

You said.

"You can't really be part of US culture without knowing who "this Jesus" is, or what Christians believe about Jesus."

I've called myself a Christian all of my life, but only really began to live it in college, but it's only been in recent years that I feel that I've understood who Jesus was and what He stood for. Oh, I thought I knew before, but I didn't. Or rather, I only scratched the surface and therefore got the wrong idea about what it meant to follow him.

I look at American 'Christianity' and I frankly think that most are in that same boat. They only know the surface of who He is and therefore don't represent Him well and frankly mis-represent Him often. Jesus Himself said that many would claim his name and do things, even good things, in it, but when he returned He wouldn't know them. I think, unfortunately, many US Christians will be in that boat.

Doc Nagel said...

Obviously, I didn't mean this is any profoundly theological sense, but more in terms of cultural currency. Uttered in public over a PA, the call to come find out about Jesus works like an ad tagline, not like religious seeking. I think that may be one reason evangelism of that ilk is so offensive to some people.

Of course, I certainly agree that the hippie in the Bible bears little resemblance to the free-marketeer gun enthusiast and spreader of intolerant ideology that goes by the name Jesus Christ in so much of mainstream American culture.