September 12, 2010

There is no God like You, Part two

(continued from before)

It doesn't jive with that whole "conversation" thing very well. I know a lot of people who embrace diversity, especially in regards to religion. For them, other faiths and approaches to God or god or gods or the deeper meaning of life are fascinating indicators of the brilliant spectrum of people and ideas on our planet. Buddhism is cool. Baha'i is cool. Islam is cool. Everything is cool. And yet, Christianity - specifically American Christianity - is too accessible, too status quo, too passe. It's decidedly uncool. We've had our moment and - it seems - it must be time to let the others in.

Having grown up in West Michigan, I was raised in a Christian world. We were the majority, even in high school and college. Either I didn't see it or I surrounded myself with enough Christians to be ignorant of it, but it turns out this world is not a Christian one. Once I entered the workforce, I was suddenly surrounded by people who definitely didn't have a Christian worldview. I'm surprised at how much of a surprise it was for me to meet people who not only weren't Christians, but who outright rejected Christianity.

It also might be surprising that none of this has really had an influence on my faith. In many things, I'm apt to second guess my own standing in the midst of opposition and dissent. "Well, all these people can't be wrong," I tend to tell myself, and as a result I've lost a lot of arguments when I've been right. But here's the thing: the popular opinion on something has little to do with the reality or legitimacy of that thing. In other words, Christianity should be neither accepted or rejected because of its coolness.

If Christianity is embraced because of its established-ness, or if it's rejected amidst the diversity of competing faiths, then its core has been sorely missed. There is only Christ crucified and resurrected. That is the one narrow gate through which any evaluation of Christianity has to pass. If the resurrection happened, and I believe it did, the whole world can be wrong and it doesn't matter. His resurrection remains.

Of course, I want the world to be right. It's just that we can't all believe different things and still be right. And there, again, is that pesky, intolerant worldview.

There is no God like You, part one

I made the drive back to camp tonight with the radio on. Sometimes, music is perfect for the drive; other times, I need some dialogue, another human voice in the car. Tonight it was the latter. I love radio preachers. So at first, it was Dr. David Jeremiah, telling me about mercy - mercy is God withholding what I deserve. And grace - Grace is God giving me what I don't deserve. I like that summary. I'm a big fan of grace.

His sermon ended, they teased me with a Chuck Swindoll promo. I love that guy. But the next show wasn't his, and they moved onto something else less preachy. So I moved onto another station: NPR.

Sunday nights, they broadcast Speaking of Faith, "a conversation about belief, meaning, ethics, and ideas." I'm a fan of this conversation. So I listened. The show is about to change its name, so I guess it makes now a good time to play some snippets from its last epoch before the big change. Over the years, they've spoken to lots of people about lots of things. Buddhists, Yoga Instructors, Desmond Tutu, all part of the conversation searching for some deeper meaning to life. I'm sufficiently convinced that the meaning of life comes from Jesus Christ, God's son. All of these opposing viewpoints point out just how strikingly intolerant my worldview is. But then they played a clip of a Kenyan woman singing a Swahili song with some lyrics I recognized. "Hakuna Mungu kama wewe," was the line - they would sing this while they were planting trees, the woman on the radio said. It was a refreshingly beautiful, enlightening moment, hearing how someone raised from a different culture would worship. She sang it again and again, unwavering, confident. I'll break it down for you:

Hakuna - If you've seen the Lion King, you've know from Pumbaa and Timon that "Hakuna Matata" means no worries. Hakuna means "No," as in, "There is/are no"
Mungu - God
Kama - like
Wewe - You.

There is no God like You.

As in, You're the only one.

What a strikingly intolerant worldview.

(to be continued. Soon, I swear.)