Friday, February 17, 2006

I Gotta Question

Hey, everybody, I've got a question. I'm so interested in this question that I'm going to post it here and at my corporate blog Strangely Dim (brought to you by InterVarsity Press, a division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, all rights reserved):

What would help American Christianity to be more thoughtful?


You can interpret thoughtful in whatever sense you prefer, and you may think about Christianity as one big collection of people or as a demographic of individuals or anywhere in between. My only stipulation, I suppose, is that I'd like you to at least think about how you would answer if "American Christianity" were replaced by "me" or "us." Spread the word, too; I'd like to get a good cross-section of people involved in this.

I don't know the answer, myself, so I choose not to respond but rather to make comments about your responses. So there.

Thanks! Have fun--play nice.

12 comments:

dan webster said...

In order to be "more thoughtful" Christians should spread God's word with understanding and patience - not with a hammer. By this I mean that Christians tend to not say anything about God for fear of offending someone, or they tend to bash their beliefs over the heads of others. So in order to be more thoughtful, perhaps the first question should be: "What would it take for American Christians to not feel afraid or ashamed to share their faith with others?"

Mr Steve said...

Clarification please:
Is it a reflexive or comparative improvement you are looking for?
1.American Christianity more thoughtful than non-American Christianity?
2. American Christianity more thoughtful than it currently is?

I guess I'm wondering if you're looking to dominate all non-American Christianity, or take an isolationist stance and focus on building infratstructure.

David A. Zimmerman said...

Good one. Of course I'm more interested in number two (and really, who isn't?), but in a free market economy, mastering number two will make us number one.

Mr Steve said...

I'm going to get all academic about this.
I cracked open the OED and will take it piece by piece.

1. Thoughtful - Given to, disposed to, or engaged in thinking; absorbed in thought; meditative; contemplative; pensive, musing; full of thoughts, preoccupied in mind.

Most Americans that are Christians that I know are doing quite well in this respect. I see a lot of people participating in bible studies, reading books, and spending time in meaningfull discussions with themselves, their freinds, and GOD regarding their beliefs and faith.

2. Full of mental trouble, anxious, sorrowful, melancholy, moody.

I sure hope we aren't moving in this direction. There I times when I find myself in this area but don't linger too long usually after a little mediation on Rom 8:28 and Mat 6:25-31

3. Showing thought or consideration for others; considerate, kindly.

I think this is where dan webster was going. I have to agree with him. I don't want to give a "churchy" answer and say "Be more like Jesus," but I think that there is a perceived lack of compassion by The World. The spin that gets put onto topics like Intelligent Design and same-sex marriage paints American Christians as self-ish and unthoguhtful. So in some respects I have to ask if there is a need to be more thoughtful. Will attempts to be "more thoughtful" result in comprimising ones faith? Or is ther a way to be "more thoughtful" without compromising? I've got a daughter in kindergarten and find myself loathing The World. What is accepted and condoned by many parents shocks me. Am I being overly protective? Probably sometimes. Am I doing my best to be a model and walk the right path so she will have the tools to defend her faith and choices to the world? I'm doing my best.

I suppose the thoughtfullness I would like to see more of in American Christianity would be a mix of Christ's compassion for those that need guidance, and proper righteous anger for those that should know better. It's a tough mix to pull off. It's the task of putting aside ego and individual ambitions and focusing on what is the best method of being salt and light that makes this so difficult. Everyone's got the desire to be that fleshy main course (by fleshy I mean as a contrast to sprit-y aka "spiritual") that gets all the attention and praise.

I also think this thoughtfullness needs to be turned inward. Are we being compassionate and kind to ourselves or are we still being dragged down by sin that has been forgiven and forgotten but we continually berate oursevles for. Let it go, man. You can't win the race by thinking about the slip you had at the starting line, or the stumble at the half-way point. Stay focused on the goals and avoid the obstacles coming up and give yourself a swift kick when you see yourself swerving off course and into the morass.

What the heck am I rambling about? I sort of lost track myself. So here'a a quote that is somehow relevant to how American Chirsitinaty can be thoughtful. I think.

Cameron: Why'd you kick me?
Ferris: Where's your brain?
Cameron: Why'd you kick me?
Ferris: Where's your brain?
Cameron: Why'd you kick me?
Ferris: Where's your brain?
Cameron: I asked you first.
Ferris: Now, I didn't hit you. I lightly slapped you.

Pete Juvinall said...

I think we suffer from multiple personality disorder. I was at our IV chapter's large group last night and it really hit me. There was a speaker from one of the more charismatic churches in town and his talk had a bit more of a different edge than the pastor of the local PCA church, or the pastor from the Bible church in town. All three of which God has used to move in people's hearts, but each take a very different approach to speaking.

In attending a couple of churches in my town, there's almost a willingness to look 'cool' to our culture or there is a purposeful disengagement with it ('screw you, you can come to my party, but I don't want you to bring your crap in here'). Don't get me wrong, I think we need to engage and be relevant to our culture, but I think we need to not try so hard. It's the difference between Bo Bice and U2; one tries to look cool and has all the right moves, and the other knows its audience and is relevant.

Rick said...

great book - _the gospel according to america_ - looks at the whole thing in that new light.

Damon said...

I think if we just let go of more of our crap and share the wealth a little.

Mr Steve said...

I just came across Good Search. Now you can be thoughtful while using the internet. Isn't technologee great?

Anonymous said...

American Christians could become more thoughtful by turning off their TVs, reading good books and Scripture, and reflecting on what they've read and what's happening in the world.

David A. Zimmerman said...

Point to "Anonymous." As the administrator of Loud Time, however, I feel I should mention that American Christians could, additionally, reflect on what they've read and what's happening in the world in conversation with one another.

I wonder whether solitude or conversation is more likely to lead to action. I think that'll be my next post. Thanks, "Anonymous!"

Margaret Feinberg said...

Goodness, I think sometimes thoughtful information presented simply and clearly can really make us think. The articles and questions that make me ponder the most are usually the shortest.

Mr Steve said...

Things you can do if you love Jesus other than honk.