Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cantankerous Writers - Wright

Bob sports a wild beard and wears multi-coloured beanies that he crafts himself. He leads his donkey in the Christmas parade. Down through the years Bob has endured snickers and snide comments about his appearance and lifestyle. He doesn’t care. Bob is a gentle anarchist and poverty activist who writes acerbic letters to the editor about local hypocrisy, failures of compassion and examples of environmental damage. Since he believes all problems should be solved locally—after all, it takes a village to raise a child—he has no use for federal politics. He spearheads a local organization called, Up From the Ashes.

I like Bob, although I disagree with him quite frequently. Every few months a lapsed Baptist and I join him for lunch. Discussion quickly moves to challenging topics: Canadian troops in Afghanistan, the lack of access the poor have to services, and invariably, why I am a follower of Christ. Between these lunches he keeps provocative e-mails coming my way.

Bob keeps me honest about my faith. My lapsed Baptist friend does the same. Is my faith practical? Do I have a reason for the hope that is in me?

Another couple, in this case—devout Christians—have a similar effect. Strangely enough they too are non-conformists. They feel uncomfortable in our middle-class church. They too ask uncomfortable questions: why do Christians spend so much time in their church buildings, why don’t we have more programs for the poor, why is our lingo so stilted, so passé, why aren’t there more Christians in the arts?

Every group needs dissenters. In Christian circles we usually restrict our admiration to non-conformists of an earlier age. Knox. Luther. Calvin. Edwards. Wilberforce. Booth. We’re a little uncomfortable when their step-children pop up in our midst.

Perhaps here’s where Christian writers can offer a service—at least some of us. God calls us to comfort, encourage, edify—but also to challenge the status quo. Where there is no dissent we become too comfortable. In reality the status quo rarely reflects any biblical ideal. We all harbour the departure gene—the propensity to drift away from the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Spurgeon called it a tendency that leads to spiritual downgrade. (Do we still believe that humans have a fallen nature?)

Without a few non-conformists to challenge our beliefs and practices how will we escape the deadly drift that ends in history’s boneyard? The church reformed must be the church ever reforming. I would welcome comments from fellow Christian writers on this theme.


Jane Harris said...

You've made me feel better as I usually seem to be taking the minority view.

Tim said...

"Without a few non-conformists to challenge our beliefs and practices how will we escape the deadly drift that ends in history’s boneyard?"

I live for Sunday for the Holy Eucharist. This always challenges me to a higher level. But this is hard to explain to a non-Catholic - something I seldom do. They think that it's in my head.

I know what it is like to live without Christ in a hellish life. Christ has transformed my life. Instead of constant complaining - thinking I deserved more or that the world is unfair: I have become grateful for all that I am given. I really deserve nothing. My life comes through Christ.

This is my personal drift - towards seeing beauty in others and just being present in the moment. I even see beauty where there is pain in my life. People think this is crazy but I am grateful for each moment. This doesn’t always translate into popularity. People prefer scandal mongering. It breaks up the boredom. But I wouldn’t trade the joy I find in life for anything and my life is hardly boring. Time is far too short.

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