Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Growing a beard

  • So, it's January, and it's been fairly cold around here, so I decided it would be a good time to grow a beard. As my good friend, John Weicher, was fond of pointing out, once I clean up the scruff on my neck and leave the rest, I'm definitely growing a beard. Anyway, I continue to be, what's the word?, not surprised, because it happens every time, but maybe flummoxed or bothered or annoyed or amused, yeah, that's it, amused by the reaction I get when I grow a beard. Some folks are nice and compliment the beard and tell me it looks good. But, there are those who seem so concerned by my change of appearance...so concerned that they need to ask me if I lost my razor or if I was feeling lazy, or, or, or, WHY IN THE HECK WOULD YOU GROW A BEARD? IT LOOKS AWFUL!!! OK, I'm exaggerating. Nobody comes right out and says that, but sometimes it feels like that's what's behind the joking and kidding. I'm not sure why people are so concerned about it, but it does leave me amused.
  • I had a call from Acquire the Fire today. It's a youth rally designed to wage battle for the souls and minds of today's youth. I was given some statistics about how many adults are currently Evangelical Christians (34%) as opposed to the small number of youth who are Christians today (4%). It's a battle, I was told. 90% of Christians come to Christ before the age of 20, I was told. We have to prepare our young people to wage battle with society and culture, I was told. I'm actually intrigued by the event, but not in a "take my youth so they can be warriors for Christ" kind of way. I'm more interested to see how they go about things. I'm curious as to whether their methods for conveying their message could be adapted to fit a different theology. i wonder about stuff like that. Would we do better at Presbytery retreats to scare the bejeezus out of the youth and send them back home? I don't think so, but it sounds like this event might have some elements of fear attached. I'm still pretty convinced that those who come to faith out of fear will end up like the seeds sown on the path (Matthew 13:1-23), in that when something that promises more security or that preys on a more deep seeded fear comes along, the faith will disappear.
  • All in all, I'm just not fond of the way that "Spiritual warfare" is used by some folks. When I read Ephesians 6:10-17 I see the words truth, righteousness, faith, and salvation. We are called to proclaim a gospel of peace, and the sword in this passage isn't a real sword, but rather the word of God. So, my question is, "How do we wield that sword peacefully?" If we're going to be "warriors," should we look to Jesus as one who redefines what a warrior is? Isn't he a warrior who lays down his weapons and places himself at the mercy of those who would destroy him? Yeah, I don't like using war imagery as a way to bring people to God.


Stuart Hill said...

i'm always fascinated by the fondness my peers have for claiming the term "warrior" - it is, i suppose, a really cool way to be a christian. but i agree with your thing about war metaphor.

those statistics also seem questionable to me. only 4% are christian? i'm a still a young buck, but i've lived in america long enough to want to question that. also, how much are we actually supposed to know and believe when we're teenagers? i wonder if those who are questioning are excluded as "non-christian" in those numbers. (i also wonder if someone just made those numbers up).

and, yes - isn't spiritual warfare an interesting concept? especially for demon-wary presbyterians like ourselves. i like what buechner writes about the power of God and the power of man: i tend to think we were given free will and allowed to do the evil that some people would personify.

but, you know, since love is my new thing, i certainly appreciate what programs like that one are trying to do. and i understand that the armor of God is what works for some people. i am no less selfish in insisting on a radical hippie Jesus than some are in inisiting on a fatigue-sporting God.

Mello Yello said...

Mr. Hill you may be no less selfish but certainly more kind and peaceful. It is very disturbing to me to see God and Jesus portrayed as warriors. Children see violence every day on TV and in school, do we really want the image of God to be one of a thug who will beat the love of him into you?

I have seen in my own city what the warriors of God can do to children. They convince them that when a friend commits suicide they should not go to his funeral. He wasted his life and committed the unforgivable sin. Therefore going to his funeral would be wrong.They use the words of the bible to promote racism bigotry and hate.Black and white people shoudn't date (the Bible says so), gay people are doomed to hell so why not abuse them while they are here too. Better yet, why not cure them of their evil curse and tell them they are only gay because they do not love Jesus enough.

I looked at the website for this group: One, it reads like a cult manual and two, the children look like they are in distress. If my children looked like this after coming home from church or youth group they would never go back.

I also do not understand why everything about religion is supposed to be cool. It is easy to go to a church with a Starbucks in the lobby and Plasma TV's everywhere. Who wouldn't want to be a Christian? It isn't where you are going it is how you get there. I hope my children and myself will choose the peaceful route. It seems to be the least travelled these days.

Patrick said...

Yes, Alan! I got the phone call from Acquire the Fire, too! Did you have some 14 year old girl who sounded like she was reading straight off a manuscript? She dealt me the same statistics, only she was very careful to mention not just "Christians," but "BIBLE BELIEVING Christians." She asked me if that alarmed me, and I told her, "No, I would rather have Christians who believe in Jesus, not the Bible." Well, that messed up the whole script. I felt bad, so I told her I would take a look at their info packet. She's supposed to be calling back this week or next.

mark said...

dang patrick..way to ruin some girl's faith..

for evangelicals, acquire the fire (atf if you're cool) is one of the top tier events. ron luce and the band..

check out their website sometime..even have a "honor academy" for students to do internships..

in a generation in the midst of the cold war, God as a warrior was important imagery for some. Hitler, Russia, etc., would get their justice..

anyway, since patrick has now ruined a 14 year old girls faith, he must now win 20 people for Christ by the end of april to make up for it..

funny stuff


Patrick said...

Mark, I'll accept that evange-challenge! We've got a new Christian class scheduled for next week with 9 people already signed up. I'm almost halfway there! You'll have to give me draft week off, though. I'll be making the trip to Nashville and locking myself in an apartment for 20 hours of football excitement. When the girl calls back, I'll be sure to mention your point about Hitler and Stalin. I'll also try to work the newly coined term "homo-evangelical" into the conversation. Did you read that McLaren article linked on pomomusings? I'm having a really hard time believing that was actually Mark Driscoll replying. Oh well...how did I get so far off topic from Alan's beard? Alan, I say grow the beard for a month or so, then shave it off and leave the moustache!

Alan Bancroft said...

Mark-It's funny that you should challenge Patrick to save 20 by the end of April, as that was totally the girl's name who called me from ATF (and I don't mean Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms...btw, is that intentional?)

Patrick-A month, huh? I just may do that. Stay posted. If you're serious about coming to Nashville, make sure you give me a shout out when you do.

FreeThinker said...

I'm growng a beard too - check out my blog. Funny thing is, lots of people ask me "are you trying to look like Jesus?" (Funny because I'm an atheist!)