Thursday, November 6, 2008

Consorting with the enemy

At the university I attend, the conservative-leaning Christian groups put on a once-a-semester gathering called "All-Campus Worship". Back in my evangelical days, I would attend to worship with the crowd and band, listen to the speaker, and pray as a group about whatever was the topic of the evening. Tonight was the latest All-Campus Worship (ACW), and was the first I had planned to miss.

But the best laid plans ... turns out my great friend KQ, with whom I have attended each ACW, asked if I wanted to go with her, and I consented. The event was, for me, a mixed bag. Here are some of the thoughts I had.

I have been seething over the gay-related ballot measures the past two days, which passed in no small measure due to the evangelical vote. So attending ACW was somewhat like walking into the base of the enemy. I never thought that someday I would consider Christians "the enemy", but that's what crosses my mind when I think about them. (Setting aside the fact that I still consider myself Christian and know there are many out there who love the gays.) In this way, evangelicals are doing a reverse evangelism on me ... I wonder how they would respond if they knew they were doing the opposite of the Great Commission laid out by Jesus.

I miss worship music. Quakers love their silence and I can love it too. But there is something to the idea of corporate action in worship, with voices raised together, experiencing the emotion -- joys and sorrows -- that can be elicited by music. The worship music brought into communion with God and those around me -- even though I had considered them "the enemy" -- and I think that is a healing balm. This was further emphasized by singing the refrain from "It is well". It reminded me of the lyrics they did not speak:
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
What ever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
And so I said, and tried to feel, tonight like it was well with my soul. I hope this becomes more of a reality as the week progresses.

The speaker tonight spoke on (lo and behold!) injustice. Yes, injustice. He mentioned that we often feel there is much injustice done to us, but he did not want to talk about being cut off in traffic, or being behind someone who has too many items in the 10-items-or-fewer lane at the supermarket. No, he put forward the following definition of injustice:
"Injustice is the abuse of power by one person who is powerful over another person who is weak, in a way so as to deprive them of an aspect of their life, their liberty, or to enjoy their love and their labor."
At which point, the irony being so forward in my mind, I leaned over to my friend KQ and said, "so that must mean Prop 8 is an injustice". The depressing thing is that those in attendance probably agreed with every word the man said tonight and yet would walk into a voting booth and say "Yes on 8" if it were put before them here in the midwest.

(Day 145)


Pomoprophet said...

Makes you just want to stand up and scream "injustice!" dosen't it?

I could never just be silent at church. I admire your self-discipline! :) Even attending a Lutheran church now, I appriciate the hymns and order of the service and responsive readings but sometimes I miss the good old evangelical emotional worship.

TweetyJill said...

Who says he was silent. At the point when the speaker gave his definition of injustice, he turned to me and mentioned how unjust Prop 8 is. He was loud enough to evoke at least two people staring.

Thank you for coming with me, Topher. It is always easier to "walk into the lion's den" when you have company.