Friday, November 04, 2005

"Narrow-minded Idealists"

Since U2 were in SoCal this past week, it's time to hear from Bono (in Rolling Stone):

What do you think of the evangelical movement that we see in the United States now?

I'm wary of faith outside of actions. I'm wary of religiosity that ignores the wider world. In 2001, only seven percent of evangelicals polled felt it incumbent upon themselves to respond to the AIDS emergency. This appalled me. I asked for meetings with as many church leaders as would have them with me. I used my background in the Scriptures to speak to them about the so-called leprosy of our age and how I felt Christ would respond to it. And they had better get to it quickly, or they would be very much on the other side of what God was doing in the world.

Amazingly, they did respond. I couldn't believe it. It almost ruined it for me -- 'cause I love giving out about the church and Christianity. But they actually came through: Jesse Helms, you know, publicly repents for the way he thinks about AIDS.

I've started to see this community as a real resource in America. I have described them as "narrow-minded idealists." If you can widen the aperture of that idealism, these people want to change the world. They want their lives to have meaning.

I think this is exactly right. And I love his use of "aperture", because what the Christian community suffers from is not a lack of passion but a lack of perspective and vision. Bono is right - many, many Christians do want to change the world, but that desire is being focused on too small a target.

C.S. Lewis once remarked, but I'll have to paraphrase because I can't track down the exact quote, that God is grieved not that we ask for too much, but that we are happy with so little. I think God longs to empower his people to turn this world upside down, but instead we're told by our "evangelical leaders" that the most important thing we do is elect people who will appoint the right kind of judges, to blindly support U.S. foreign policy (as long as a Republican is President), and to pass laws to make sure that gay people can't visit each other in the hospital.

No wonder Christians seem so angry when engaged in the social and political arena. We know we've been transformed by God in order to help transform the world, and instead we're told to take that passion and cram it into these little, tiny packages which are devoid of idealism. A steady diet of that is bound to make you cranky.

1 comment:

Johan Maurer said...

Very well said!

The book I'm reading now, Ben Richmond's Signs of Salvation, evokes this wider aperture beautifully.