Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Giving up cynicism for Lent
I had friends in both Oklahoma and Virginia over the Christmas/January break recommend to me My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion by Patton Dodd. Patton attended Oral Roberts University just a few short years before I did just after his conversion in an evangelical, charismatic, non-denominational megachurch. The book chronicles his faith journey during the time of his Christian infancy between his years of 18 and 20, essentially the construction, destruction and rebuilding of his faith.

it's a critical indictment (but not mean) of the unique charismatic flavor of Christianity. Much of it echoes my own experience at ORU and within non-denominational churches of the past few years. Especially this passage I read last night regarding Dodd's processing the personality of ORU President Richard Roberts:
Cynicism is more fun. A mock prayer line forms in my dorm that night. "Fresh" and "Joy" replace "Hey" and "Bye" for a couple weeks. I joke along with these people too, because another part of me wants it to be this simple, wants Roberts's antics to be just that: antics. Part of me wants him and the whole overboard charismatic impulse to be rejectable. But I fear that we are missing something in our joking. Why assume the worst of Richard Roberts, who is only doing what comes naturally to him? Like it or not, this is Christianity as we know it. If it is misguided, it needs to be changed. If it is not, then we need to be changed. The problem with cynicism, whether humorous or hopping mad, is that it is obsessed with that which it hates, and it is blinded by that obsession. Cynical eyes can no longer see the central problem but can only focus on the symptoms. Cynicism distances you from the heart of the matter. It allows you to feel superior, but not to improve things, not to redeem anything. Cynicism is not Activism. It does not form a Resistance. It is all Reaction. (emphasis mine)

The heart of the matter is Jesus Christ.

My hope is that my obsession would be in not that which is wrong with the Church--the weird culture of it all--but in all that which is right with the Church--the redemptive love and transforming power available in Christ.

posted by Peter at 11:35 AM
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