Friday, March 19, 2010

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers

The teen-ager and I saw the film today. We were a little worried that maybe it was going to be a guilt-fest. It wasn't really, though it was easy to feel overwhelmed.

It reminded me a little of "They Like Jesus But Not the Church." The part of the film I'll probably remember the most was the "Culture Wars" game show, wherein some representative evangelicals competed with some representatives of the "liberal media elite"; the emcee asked questions like "what are some important things Christians say Jesus did" or "what are some common reasons a woman would want to have an abortion." Turns out that the liberal media folks beat the pants off the conservative evangelicals. I actually find this easy to believe.

The exciting thing about all this, though, was what happened after the game-show part was taped. The "contestants" sat around in a back room talking to each other for an hour or two, just talking. After that time, they had a sense that those people are actually pretty nice and enjoyable to talk with -- even though we think completely differently about some pretty fundamental things. I find this really easy to believe, too. Some of my best friends are liberal atheists. We disagree on some pretty fundamental things, but we also agree on a lot of things.

The other thing from the film I'll probably remember for a long time is the importance of service. The outpouring of aid from churches after Katrina/Rita, and helping the homeless in Portland, Oregon, were demonstrations to those outside that the church can actually be some earthly good.

We walked out of the theater and down the street, past a homeless woman. We got about about 3 yards past her and we both stopped and looked at each other. "Want something to eat?" we asked. "Are you allergic to anything?" Only onions, she said. We asked for two bagels, toasted, with cream cheese (Sheri noticed another homeless person -- lucky for him, since I didn't see him at all). Bottled water. A little cracker with chocolate over it.

We handed "Steve" (not the name he told us) one kit, introduced ourselves, and learned his name. He didn't seem to want to talk much. We then found "Sally" and did the same. She told us her name and a little about herself. Laid off after some seasonal work expired. Her children are with their father currently. We listened and wished her well.

The film changed me for a little while, anyway. I hope it sticks.

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