Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind'

Parallel universes

Christianity Today columnist Philip Yancey on Thursday made some fascinating observations about what he called the "parallel universes" of secular educated Americans and conservative Christians. He expressed dismay about how far apart the American left and right have drifted in recent years, as though they hardly know each other and at the deepest levels they distrust each other. Discussing a reading group he belongs to and in which he's the only Christian, he said:

After the 2004 election, the Marxist professor [in the group] launched into a tirade against "right-wing evangelicals." "They're motivated by hate—sheer hate!" he said. I suggested fear as a possible alternative, fear of changes in a society that is moving in a troubling direction. "No, it's hate!" he insisted, uncharacteristically raising his voice and turning red in the face.

"Do you personally know any 'right-wing evangelicals'?" I asked. "Not really," he admitted a little sheepishly, though he said he had known many in his youth.

The Marxist had known many "right-wing evangelicals" in his youth but, even though he had been in the same reading group for years with Yancey, didn't think he knew any now. Not many years ago I wrote that although most Americans might not be Christians, most of those other, unbelieving, Americans knew that in a pinch their Christian friends and relatives were their best hope, the ones who could be most depended on to do the right thing. Even when Jimmy Carter ran his winning campaign for President, I think a great many of his supporters were confident they could trust him because, though they personally didn't share his faith and hope, they knew enough other Christians well enough to know they wouldn't lie or defraud them.

No longer. Now, even Jimmy Carter doesn't trust most of the Christians in America ("red staters" as they are). And vice versa.

I don't think Christians have changed, unless having become better educated and organized, and relatively empowered by the new alternative media, count. But conversely, the liberal left has been sliding down the slippery slope at an ever-increasing rate of acceleration. To illustrate: Just a year ago, when Kerry and Edwards were carrying the Democratic standard, they and most of their party spokespersons disavowed gay marriage and claimed no one supported that. Now, gay marriage is one of the most strongly supported tenets of the liberal agenda, one they now routinely get out to use as a cudgel on their conservative adversaries.

Yancy seemed inclined to think that the growing empowerment of American Christians may be working against us all: tempting it can be—and how distracting from our primary mission—to devote so many efforts to rehabilitating society at large, especially when these efforts demonize the opposition. (After all, neither Jesus nor Paul showed much concern about cleaning up the degenerate Roman Empire.) As history has proven, especially in times when church and state closely mingle, it is possible for the church to gain a nation and in the process lose the kingdom.

No, Philip...Jesus and Paul were citizens of Israel and Paul, only incidentally, a dual citizen of Rome. And Rome had never been anything other than pagan, under an authoritarian rule that had been in power for many generations before his time. That was a higher peak to scale than even our generation of god-fearers face. But by faith such mountains have and will continue to be moved. Effort to bring the claims of the Gospel to the society at large, not just individuals, is not optional but commanded. Political success is not guaranteed, but such "success" is beside the point.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

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Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should get used to the idea.

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Thought for today

As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion. .

—Antisthenes (Greek philosopher, 444 - 371 BC)

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