10 Reasons I'm a Terrible Evangelical
I discovered a new blogger tonight, Rachel Held Evans. Evans is a "liberal" Christian, an Arminian, and a social justice advocate. Needless to say, we have a lot in common. I was glad to discover her because she is writing as I would want to write. In that vein, one of her posts inspired me to do a similar thing over here.
10 Things That Make Me a Terrible Evangelical*:
1. I tend to swear a lot. In fact, I had to restrain myself from including in the title of this list the generally unacceptable synonym for poop. My mother would be shocked, but I'll be honest, I've got a bit of a potty mouth sometimes.
2. I have a love/hate relationship with Paul. I love what he did for starting Christianity off, but some of the things he says are just mind-blowingly strange and frustrating. Sometimes I even wonder if he might have been wrong about some stuff.
3. John Piper makes me violent. Maybe that's just a personal issue and not evangelicalism as a whole, but he is at the forefront of a lot of these things. When he blamed the tornado in Minneapolis last year on the ECLA meeting to discuss ordination for homosexual pastors, he kind of went in my "you're crazy and I will flip off the computer every time I read something you write just to relieve my frustration at the wrongness" box.
4. I really hate "Christian" movies and most of the movies I own are R-rated. It really sucks that "Christian art" is synonymous with kitsch, Thomas Kinkade, and just plain out terrible work. I much prefer the Coens, Danny Boyle Wes Anderson, and Christopher Nolan (all of which are notable in part for their frequently dark and twisted themes and humor) to say...Kirk Cameron, or that movie Rebecca St. James was in.
5. I cheered when Neil Patrick Harris and his partner adopted twins. Maybe it's the fact that I have several bisexual friends. Maybe it's just that I know a lot of gay people. Maybe it's my pro-adoption happiness outweighing any qualms about homosexual parents. Maybe it's the influence of MTV. Whatever it is, I really don't have a problem with you being allowed to marry and adopt kids if you want.
6. I read Harry Potter and other fantasy novels voraciously. I'm also against banning books. Then again, I read Stephen King's It when I was 13, so...
7. I really, really hate Contemporary Christian Radio. There was a time when it was all I would listen to. My music library on my computer, my CD player in my car, the music on my iPod were all tuned to contemporary Christian music - the likes of the Newsboys, Leeland, Audio Adrenaline, Everyday Sunday, Relient K, etc. Then I discovered Radiohead, and now CCM leaves a bad taste in my mouth, metaphorically speaking.
8. I like President Obama and will vote for him in 2012, especially if Palin or Gingrich are running against him. 'Nuff said.
9. I don't believe in the concept of Biblical inerrancy. I'm fine with Scripture being the Word of God and authoritative at that, but without error? Not so much. The four gospels are enough to show us the major problems with that.
10. John Green put it best: "There is no them. There are only facets of us." If anything is at odds with modern evangelical Christianity (see explanatory note below) it is this: the idea that there can be no us vs. them. That there is no them - there is no Other, at least not insofar as it is encapsulated in our fellow human beings. The things that we see in them that we like or dislike are reflections of what makes all of us human, and to set up any sort of us vs. them dichotomy is to tell a lie about what the group you are talking about is as human beings.
*This list is meant to respond to the general characterization of Evangelicalism in society, which tends to consist of conservative Republicans, Calvinists, and rigid fundamentalists. I realize that not all who self-identify as "evangelical" would agree with such a characterization, but, in my experience and impression, and I think in the impression of America in general, these sorts of things listed here tend to be litmus tests for belonging to the evangelical church as currently characterized. That said, this list is hyperbole for humorous effect, all except for point #10. That is, indeed, one major problem I have with both conservative evangelicalism in America and the neo-Calvinists (coughJohnPipercough) who are so influential in it. And I realize that some of you would argue that in attacking Evangelical America, I am myself setting up an us vs. them dichotomy, but I don't believe this is the case, as I am responding both to a caricature in the group and the general attitude I have encounter. My theology is not based on an us vs. them dichotomy - I still see "them" as fellow Christians, though "they" may not see me the same way. And therein lies the difference.