Sunday, May 13, 2007

e.g. scooters, vacation, fall

My uncle-in-law and cousin-in-law-in-law are somewhere in Africa at the moment. I got an email telling of their "praises and prayer requests." They seem to be hanging around a village showing the Passion of the Christ to whomever will watch, trying to convert people. I know they feel that what they are doing is a very noble thing, spreading the "Good News" and all that. I can't help but think that the last thing Africans need is to be shown a disgusting movie that fetishizes violence (the glorification of Christ's physical suffering is a very recent phenomenon within Church history. Very little blood in Church art.) by some suburbanites from the Western world, being called upon to make some mental assent to bad theology. I hate proselytizing. I dig the Pope.

"The Church does not engage in proselytizing. Instead, she grows by attraction."
Pope Benedict XVI

The "Good News" does not consist in formulas for some psychological and infinitely deferred salvation, but in a new way of living life now. "The Kingdom of God is at hand," we just have to live it. Doing so is dangerous, radical, and doing so runs you the risk of some sideways looks. When people live out the Kingdom of God, it is a beautiful thing, a very attractive thing. Not to say that I am living it, but I have met people who are, and it is an awesome sight. But if going around getting people to assent to some formula and "pray to invite Jesus into their hearts" or whatever is what being the Church amounts to, then count me out.

I'll take the Christian Peacemaker Teams or the Catholic Workers over that any day.

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