Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reading from the Outside

Unlike most of the blogging world, I really don't subscribe much to blogs by people I don't know. Even when I do, I end up never reading them. If it's not a friend, I tend to just not be interested.

But one non-aquaintance blog that has become a must-read for me is Tacoma Atheists. I discovered the blog through a Bennington Alum on Facebook. (She friended me but I don't think we've ever met, so it doesn't count as a buddy blog). Tacoma Atheist is a group of local atheists and non-theists who collaborate to promote community and education regarding atheist advocacy and rights.

It's a really amazing collection of people's concern, outrage and passion for freedom of thought, with particular focus on the prejudice, injustice and harm done in the name of religion. While admittedly, the site posts have as much us-them superiour snarkiness as any blog (that is the point of blogs, I think), it's refreshing, humbling and eye-opening to read from the persepctive of the evangelized instead of the evagelizers.

While my own thoughts on evangelism and mission probably align closer with the site members than those they are critiquing, I still find it hugely impacting to read about what's going on in the local and national church as written by those who are enraged by it, rather than inspired.

Most recently, Tacoma Atheists re-posted a Slog article about Mars Hill Church's intentional movement towards Capital Hill. Reading it really made me want to show up at that bar to see how the Capital Hill community would respond to the Evangelical "relational approach" to ministry. While I have my own issues with Mars Hill Church, (and never know if I'm being a jerk or not for my constant disclaimer that Mars Hill Graduate School has nothing whatsoever to do with the church of similar name- except that we're all Christians and that's not insignificant), I think every Chrsitian can learn something from reading people's comments regarding how they feel when they're told that someone is coming to love them intetionally. How can that not sound patronizing? Will you let yourself be loved by the person you're trying to save? And if so, can you do that if you've already decided their fate for them? Will anyone's life ever be changed through agenda'd relationship?

Obviously, I think the answer is no. But it'll be an interesting experiment up there. And I'm thankful for Tacoma Atheists. Not as some Christian spy- or even as a postmodern, post-evangelical wanna-be cool by considering myself more like the atheists than megachurch people- but for the way they reflect myself and my community back to me- For a reminder that if you want to love, serve or help someone, you should never assume you know what they want, need or love. In fact, sometimes the best thing to give is your respect- which may mean leaving them alone.

6/16/09 update: honored to have been quoted by TA.


Maryann said...

"if you want to love, serve or help someone, you should never assume you know what they want, need or love." Man alive--I need to write that on my mirror or something. Great post.

carin said...

Thanks, Kj. Yes, that posture sounds--and feels--patronizing to me, too.

Your words invite me to think more about our (mine and Matt's) experience on staff with Young Life, as well as my experience as a kid with YL. I'm still chewing on this, so more later, probably...

Jarrod said...

Thanks for this.