I just finished Blue Like Jazz (see links), round one. I read a lot and my husband frequently asks me how I can remember everything I read. I can’t of course, but I’m mastering the art of taking away what’s most important while still appreciating the pleasure of the little details during the read. Halfway through Blue Like Jazz I decided that as soon as I finished it I would read it again, because it was that good and I wanted to remember more.
Anyway, the last chapter of the book relates a story about a friend of the author who had the opportunity to ask questions of a well-known Evangelical Christian leader, who happens to be the founder of the organization I was very involved with in college. The story goes that the friend asked “mr. sunshine” (some of you will appreciate this code name)”what does Jesus mean to you?” Mr. Sunshine couldn’t answer the question because he was overwhelmed with emotion and tears. The author goes on to comment that this sort of love for Jesus is something he aspires to.
The reason I write about this is that I am seriously questioning what I really believe about God, religion, Christ and Christianity after years of being a very serious, committed evangelical. I have a ton of intellectual questions about the Bible and even more problems with the religion. I really don’t relate with most American Christians anymore. I have some awesome, amazing friends, but the whole Christian culture with it’s own vocabulary, clothes and behavior is a huge stumbling block for me. I am totally embarrassed by what people pass off as real Christianity, which is basically a marketing tool for conservatives to make even more money.
Of course this is clearly not what Christ stands for if you read his words, but this is what we are showing to our culture that we are. Now I’ve become this sort of angry, cynical, liberal Christian. I’ve turned into my best friend Sara’s father a while back when he used to argue with me in their kitchen about the merits of the Democratic Party. Back to Mr. Sunshine, I have grown to see his organization as sort of the epitome of what is wrong with the Christian culture. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing people in this organization and they have done great things in the world, but there is this American-dream, success-driven and results-oriented approach encouraged that I now find repulsive. There are discussions of the “corporate culture” of the organization and strategies to “weed out” those uninterested acquaintances because they are unlikely to become converts.
But Mr. Sunshine, the founder of all this work, is a person who weeps at the thought of Jesus. I realize I have no right to judge his organization any more than I have the right to judge anyone, but something in me is just constantly seeking what’s right and can’t seem to accept the gray. My innate tendency for righteousness, liberal or conservative, keeps me from accepting the diverse ideas, beliefs, cultures and personalities of others. I can only hope to someday reconcile what’s going on in my heart and life and soul so that I can also weep peacefully at the reality of life, reality, God, humanity.