Friday, December 03, 2004

Wait...not THE John Stott?

Most mornings I sip my coffee over the latest edition of the New York Times. It's "the paper of record", I get good national and international news, good coverage of events at the center of the universe (i.e. New York City), and the best daily crossword puzzle I can find. And, yes, I usually like the Op-Ed pieces, too. Paul Krugman is a favorite and Maureen Dowd is a guilty pleasure. Of course, there are two things I do not read the Times for, because when it comes to these, they just don't get it: the Chicago Cubs and religious (particularly Christian) faith.

(Of course, there might be more connection between the topics than we know -- but that's for another time.)

So you can imagine my spit take when I saw John Stott's name show up in the headline of David Brooks' column on Tuesday. Stott is an Anglican of unabashed evangelical sympathies, has been involved deeply in many parts of the church around the world, and qualifies as an "elder statesman" of the church. I do not agree with everything that he stands for, my theology runs in a somewhat different direction, but I have deep respect for him as a person of profound faith, humility, and conviction. (I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting him, and I concur with Edward Cook's assessment of that experience.)

David Brooks' point in talking about Stott is the reason I mention the column. (May I say, also, that I am not usually a David Brooks fan: his column a couple of weeks ago on the virtues of the exurbs was execrably bad. That's a real hot button for me. The exurbs are a regrettable economic necessity at best; if they represent the acme of what American culture has to offer, we should envy the dead.) Brooks makes the excellent point that when the media -- although he might as well mean all of us -- choose representatives of Christianity, they should not make recourse to "bozos" (his term) such as Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton, but should instead call on folks like Stott.

His point, in brief, is that you cannot understand Christian faith if you don't meet its authentic representatives.

And I take from that the idea that even within the church we cannot understand the perspectives with which we disagree without meeting, and getting to know, and yes, even loving, that perspective's authentic representatives. It takes fortitude and patience, more than we're used to exercising. It doesn't mean agreeing with them; it does mean loving them enough to work to understand them on their own terms. It might mean having a probing constructive or critical conversation with them, but it will be with a brother or sister in Christ, not merely an opponent.

Granted, this sort of patient, charitable conversation doesn't make for good television, but it does build the kingdom of God -- which is, after all, the point.

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Blogger nope said...


I'm sorry for being intrusive in to your blog. But I am Melissa and I am a mother of two that is just trying to get out of an incredible financial debt. See my hubby is away in Iraq trying to protect this great country that we live in, and I am at home with our two kids telling bill collectors please be patiant. When my husband returns from war we will beable to catch up on our payments. We have already had are 2001 Ford repossessed from the bank, and are now down to a 83 buick that is rusted from front to back and the heater don't work, and tire tax is due in November.

I'm not asking for your pitty because we got our ownselfs into this mess but we would love you and thank you in our prayers if you would just keep this link on your blog for others to view.

God Bless You.

Melissa K. W.
To see my family view this page. My Family

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005 1:49:00 PM  

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