Tim, our man in Edmonton, caught Stephen Lewis who was in town speaking at the University of Alberta recently. You must read this post; Tim connects what he saw and heard with what I think is one of the most beautiful and moving passages from C.S. Lewis.
Pay special attention to the question at the end of the post. As I said in my comment, it's the very question that keeps me awake at night.
(Mike's Note: Some of you newcomers may not be familiar with Robert. He is one of my best friends who lives back in Toronto. We met in my previous life, when I was the suit-wearing guy from Fidelity Investments, and he was a suit-wearing guy on the other side of the table. He is a self-proclaimed atheist - although his qualifications are suspect - and periodic guest blogger. Lately he and I have been discussing evangelism, and I've asked him to share his thoughts on the subject with all of us.)
When I first started frequenting this blog, Mike and I were friends but he had never talked to me about his faith in any way other than telling me what he thought. He has never tried to convert me to his views though he has never shied away from letting me know the reasons he does the things he does. That said, I have been exposed to the teachings of Christ and the thoughts and views of the people who populate this blog and it has been an eye-opening experience. I still believe Jesus was a man but his teachings have inspired me and helped me focus my attention on what I believe is important. I have rarely been preached to on this blog but the example of living in Christ that many of these good people have shown me certainly opened my eyes to the essence of his message. It has inspired me and made me question my own preconceived notions about Christians. Here I have met kind, thinking individuals who put their faith into action and actively work toward making the world a better place today, not waiting for some payoff afterlife to make everything alright.
I'm not sure if this has been some scheme cooked up by my former Fidelity wholesaler to sell me on his latest offering but in all seriousness, there is a lesson to be learned here. Fire and brimstone will rarely attract converts. Think about it, if I don't believe in God or heaven or hell, how is telling me I am going to hell in any way going to resonate? If, however, I see people doing good, become inspired by it and ask what motivates them to do so, the answer may be something that resonates with me. "Oh, you say that Jesus' love and message inspires you to do this? That sounds like a cool message. Maybe you could tell me about it sometime."
I don't know if at some point, I will come to believe Jesus is the Son of God but the approach of quoting the Bible, assuring everyone that every word of it is pure Truth (even the parts that conflict with other parts) that should not be put into context or examined in any way but simply memorized strikes me as a form of fundamentalism that we see most commonly today coming out of Islamism. If you think about it, the clerics in Iran sound a lot many people quoting chapter and verse of the bible. The clerics believe they have the key, they know the formula, it's all in the book and it is not open to interpretation or discussion. Just follow the Koran, word for word, and your place in Paradise is assured.
Dividend tax cuts, AIDS, debt relief for poor nations & other tangible issues that can be addressed on earth take a backseat to "the word". The result? Many people who might be inspired by the message of love Jesus taught never get to hear it because they get so turned off by the messengers. What a shame. What a waste. In truth, the exposure to the message has focused me on what truly are my priorities and, I hope, made me a better person. Who knows? Others may be similarly inspired by this message. Seems to me there is little to lose. If no one else is inspired, good work got done in the name of Jesus.
The Canadian government, to its credit, held probing, public
hearings in 2005 into the role played by Canadian officials in Washington’s
shipment of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian extraction, to Syria,
where Syrian authorities predictably tortured him—despite the U.S. government’s
claim to have received assurances from Syria that it would not mistreat him.
In this respect, Canada showed significantly greater concern with a single act
of possible complicity in torture than the U.S. government has shown about its
systematic use of torture. Yet a Canadian law permits the detention and expulsion
of immigrants and refugees on national security grounds to countries where they
risk torture. The Supreme Court of Canada was due to review the
constitutionality of this law in early 2006 to determine whether it infringes
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The U.N. Human Rights Committee,
in reviewing Canada’s record, said that such transfers “can never be
justified,” echoing concerns expressed in May by the U.N. Committee against
Torture when it reviewed Canada’s compliance with the torture convention.
From Onehouse we read of a South Africa movie causing quite a stir at Sundance. Roger Ebert writes:
The South African film renaissance continues with one of the most
extraordinary and powerful films at Sundance, “Son of Man.” This is the
story of Jesus, told in episodes from the New Testament, but set in
present-day Africa. This is a Jesus (Andile Kosi) who says the same
sorts of things he says in the Bible, is not “updated” except in some
of his terms of reference, and yet sends an unmistakable message: If
Jesus were alive today, he would be singled out as a dangerous
political leader, just as he was the first time around.
The movie has relatively little spoken dialogue, but a great deal of
music, that joyous full-throated South African music that combines
great technical skill with great heart. Some of the best moments belong
to a chorus, singing the praises of the lord. Others belong to an
actress named Pauline Malefane, who plays Mary, and sings in
celebration after being told she will be the mother of Jesus.
She’s told by an angel; the angels in the movie are small African boys
with a few feathers attached here and there, looking on with concern.
Jesus’s disciples include a few women along with the men this time,
and they follow him through the townships of Cape Town as he preaches
non-violence. Television news tells of occupying forces and uprisings,
the modern version of the Roman concern with the Jews. Judas spies on
Jesus with a video camera. The secret of the movie is that it doesn’t
strain to draw parallels with current world events – because it doesn’t
The movie was directed by Mark Dornford-May, but it is
an improvisational collaboration of the Dimpho Di Kopane Theater
company, which also created Dornford-May’s great “U-Carmen” (2005), a
version of Bizet’s opera sung entirely in Khosa. That, too, starred
Pauline Malefane, a trained opera singer.
I agree... to the extent that we are defining church as a hierarchical structure, based on a long history and tradition, steeped in process and doctrine. I agree with your statement and I am not troubled by it.
I disagree... to the extent that we are defining church as a gathering of people eager to worship God, to learn how to be better disciples of Jesus, and then to go out and be his hands and feet. I disagree with your statement and I am disturbed by it.
After Sorkin broke the news of Bono's impending announcement, the
Financial Times now has some of the details. Among them: "American
Express, Converse, Gap and Giorgio Armani are joining with Bono to
sell products under a new brand, called "Red", which will dedicate
some of its revenues to fight Aids in Africa, according to the FT.
It's not pink pinkie rings as we had hoped, but it's better than
They are thinking Red.
Posted by editor on January 25, 2006 11:55 PM (Paris)
I am constantly amazed how this guy "gets it". We can sit around and wait for the big corporations to get religion and get on board; he goes to them with a way to make money.
Bobby Shriver, chief executive of Product Red, said he and Bono
insisted their partners see it as a money-making opportunity. “We
said you had to make money, because if you don’t make money, you
won’t want to invest,” he said. Mr Shriver said the
partners had all signed up for at least five years.