Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Good word gone bad: 'evangelical'
I am so, so sorry it's come to this.
To the right-wing of the American church:
Hope you're proud.
To the left wing of the American church:
Come out! Speak out! Pray out!
By John Buckeridge
Editor, Christianity (UK magazine)
Now ... "evangelical" is increasingly shorthand for: right-wing US politics, an arrogant loud mouth who refuses to listen to other people’s opinions, men in grey suits who attempt to crowbar authorised version scripture verses into every situation, or "happy-clappy" simpletons who gullibly swallow whatever their tub thumping minister tells them to believe. Large parts of the British media seem happy to paint evangelicals into that stereotype. Today in the UK "evangelical" is often linked with the ultimate 21st century swearword "fundamentalist". The result is the name "evangelical" which years ago, may have smelt of roses -– now has the aroma of the manure that fertilises the bush.
Read all about it.
(Hat tip to Blondesense, to which ER regular Red State Blues contributes.)
I agree with you that it's a crying shame that the Focus on the Family types are giving religion a bad name.
By the way, did you know that Oklahoma City was rated one of the top 10 most conservative cities in the country? I'll try to find the link and send it along.
I have tried to hang onto the word, since I am a Christian who believes I am under mandate to share my faith with others.
However, if I describe myself as an "evangelical" to others, well, some think I am making a political statement. And yes, some very committed Christians I know shun the word entirely for this reason.
Now, ER, shouldn't "the media" get some blame for this? Reporters throw 'evangelical' around pretty frequently when they are speaking purely in the political sense...
But the point isn't who did the shootin' -- the point is the word is now all shot full of holes.
Recall that in my crankier moments, I call myself a Jesusian because right-wingers are threatening to so co-opt the word "Christian" that even that word means many things to people when they hear it that I do NOT mean when I say it.
It's like what happened to the fine old word "gentleman." Only worse.
But, it originally meant a man of noble birth or superior social position. Robert E. Lee was a gentleman.
Now, it means a man who behaves properly. And, it's actually considered a synonym for "man."
The definition of "gentleman" has been watered down, in other words.
"Christian" used to mean "one who follows Christ."
Now, depending on who you ask, there are a bunch of other things attached to it. It's been watered down, too, even as restrictions have been added to the definition.
That's all I'm saying.
Good things sometimes get hyjacked. In American Indian symbolism the swastika was the symbol for the Thunderbird. In many Synagogues bulit in the middle ages a row of swastikas was used a a decoration symbolizing the flow of life through the interlocking lives of individuals. For thousands of years the swastika was a symbol of life and spiritual power. It can never be that again, not so long as the memmory of the Nazis survive.
That of course is an extreme example. But once a symbol takes on a meaning that is contrary to it historical shibolith then it can not return to its former meaning.
Someone somewhere I am sure, a wordsmith wiil construct a new substitute for what "evangelical" once ment.
What Jesus said, and did, are another.
What is your definition of
Christianity, Redneck? I'd like to know.
Christian: "One who follows Christ."
Anything beyond that is church bureaucracy, in my book.
Over here they were seen as the quintessence of American excess and double-standards; loud, in-your-face, claiming to have a direct-line to God and exuding a repellent unctuousness. Hardly representative of 'good christianity'! This view seemed to be thoroughly borne-out by the various sexual and financial scandals over the years.
I think Genesis summed up the perception pretty well with their song ‘Jesus He Knows Me’:
“Won’t find me practising what I’m preaching
Won’t find me making no sacrifice
But I can get you a pocketful of miracles
If you promise to be good, try to be nice
God will take good care of you
Just do as I say, don’t do as I do”