Dear Christian, Are You Ready to be 'Weird?'
I was confronted with an unsettling truth recently while reading a book by an English Christian by the name of Francis Spufford. In the preface to his book, Unapologetic: How Despite Everything Christianity still makes Surprising Emotional Sense, he describes what it is like to be a Christian in England in the 21st century:
My daughter just turned six. some time over the next year or so, she will discover that her parents are weird. We're weird because we go to church. This means--well...it means that we believe in a load of bronze -age absurdities. It means that we don't believe in dinosaurs. Its means that we're dogmatic. That we're self-righteous. That we fetishize pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we promise the oppressed pie in the sky when they die...That wer're too stupid to understnad the irrationality of our creeds. That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures...on the marshmallow foundations of a fantasy. That we uphold the nuclear family, with all its micro-tyrannies and imprisoning stereotypes...That we're savagely judgmental...but hey, that's not the bad news. Those are the objections of people who care enough about religion to object to it...
No: the really painful message our daughter will receive is that wer're embarrassing. For most people...believers aren't weird because we are wicked. We're weird because were inexplicable; because, when there is no necessity for it that anyone sensible can see, we've comitted ourselves to a set of awkward and absurd attitudes which obtrude, which stick out against the backgorund of modern life...believers are people who try to insert Jesus into conversations at parties, who put themselves down...for perfectly normal human behavior...there is no reason for it...most peoples lives provide them with a full range of loves and hates and joys and despairs and a moral framework by which to understand them, and a place for awe and transcendance, without any need for religion. Believers are people touting a solution without a problem.
What unsettled me as I read this description of the attitude of post-Christian Europe towards Christianity, is that it seems very likely to become reality for Christians in the United States. Soon, we we will be 'weird' for believing. It will not matter how nice, cool, funny, or relevant we try to be, we will be deemed 'abnormal' for going to church on a regular basis. Indeed, in many places in the US, it is already so.
Dear Christian, are you ready to be thought of as 'weird' by your friends for holding to Christian belief? Are you ready to be considered strange? Backwards? Un-enlightened? Are you willing to suffer social stigma? Unless something changes quickly, what Spufford describes will become our reality. And in light of this, are we prepared to give a reason for the hope within us?