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Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

Relevant, a Christian magazine targeted at twenty- and thirty-somethings, recently posted an article on the website about Millennial traits that make my generation suited for and important to Christianity. Though the claim that individualism is key to community feels like a stretch, the rest of the article rang true for me. (Thanks to my roommate for the link!)

while it’s true that roughly three in 10 Millennials (29 percent) claim no religious affiliation, 86 percent still profess belief in God, which doesn’t really sound like an atheists’ society.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/god-our-generation/6-reasons-millennial-christians-will-change-everything#MkTivHORkBtGRKlV.99
while it’s true that roughly three in 10 Millennials (29 percent) claim no religious affiliation, 86 percent still profess belief in God, which doesn’t really sound like an atheists’ society.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/god-our-generation/6-reasons-millennial-christians-will-change-everything#MkTivHORkBtGRKlV.99

“While it’s true that roughly three in ten Millennials (29 percent) claim no religious affiliation, 86 percent still profess belief in God, which really doesn’t sound like an atheist’s society.”

 

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So in one of last month’s posts, I mentioned a youth conference where several classmates and I served as college leaders. It was not exactly a positive experience. We encountered blatant homophobia, as detailed in my previous post. Other messages included prosperity gospel, anti-evolutionism, women’s sexual disinterest and men’s sexual enslavement, and consumerism. It left many of us in the group feeling dejected and agitated. This was not the church as we envisioned it.

 

In our frustrated conversations that weekend, all the questions boiled down to one: reform from within or abandon ship? In other words, is Christianity worth reclaiming or should we start from square one, uncorrupted? It reminded me of the various Puritan sects in England at the turn of the seventeenth century. Some of them advocated for complete separation from Anglicanism while others said that they were called to heal the church. The way to heal was to stay, to shine as the holy minority within. Separation, the latter group argued, would be akin to chopping off a healthy hand to save it from the body’s infection.

 

Obviously I’m inclined to heal from within, seeing as how I plan to be ordained as a United Methodist. But I understand my friends’ leanings as well. Sometimes it seems that American Christianity has fallen so far that it can never climb back up. As Walter Brueggemann might say, we’ve been assimilated into the culture instead of standing as its alternative. A very wise professor from Duke Divinity once told me that too many Christians put fish on the back of their cars while living the same as everybody else. I’ve certainly been guilty of that. What else could explain my fear of speaking to the homeless woman camped outside my apartment building? Radical Christianity exists in isolated pockets these days.

 

Still, I am too much of an optimist to not believe that with God all things are possible. God is remaking the world every day with or without me. I want to be included in His great project. I still believe that God’s grace can redeem the church, restore it to what Christ imagined when he appointed Peter. I’m praying hard.

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When I interned at Heifer International, one of the first things my supervisor taught me was to tell stories. He said that we could talk about poverty theory, infant mortality rates, and development statistics until we were blue in the face, but until we connected with a donor’s compassion, it was all useless. This wasn’t meant to be a manipulative, money-grubbing tactic; it was a truth about the heart versus the head. If we think in abstractions, our rationality can turn cold and unkind. A human being with a face and a name and a life is necessary to change the discussion. So that’s what I’m going to try to do in this post, except not about poverty or hunger. I am going to try to witness to the look in my friend’s eyes at a youth conference this weekend.

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It’s a common joke that Methodism started out as a campus ministry. Those rascally Wesley brothers began the movement by accident when they formed a society (John refused to call it a club) as students at Oxford University. It comes as no surprise then that United Methodists would fund more colleges and higher education scholarships a few centuries later than any other denomination. Our heritage has taught us that undergrad offers a superior context for not just intellectual growth, but for spiritual exploration.

As a volunteer tour guide for my college, I often struggle to explain its United Methodist affiliation. Some prospective students see a chapel next to the auditorium and envision mandatory Communion attendance, altar call conversions, or stifling dress codes. Other students, thinking that an affiliation equates to ownership, are disappointed when they arrive for freshman year, only to discover the myriad of complex spiritualities on campus. Personally, I love this middle ground. The availability of an active religious life without its requirement has been invaluable to my faith development.

But it does make me wonder what defines a “good” campus ministry versus a weaker one. These days, we United Methodist love our measurable standards. How does a board of trustees deign a campus ministry a success or a failure? Obviously if the issue were raised at General Conference, the answers would vary widely — as they do on almost all issues. My only concern with the campus ministries I’ve seen is an emphasis on doubt. (more…)

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Quote for Thought 4

“People have fish on the back of their cars while living exactly like everybody else.” – Reverend Joy Moore

The sermon I heard Rev. Moore preach at DYA was so jam-packed with spiritual awesomeness that I could write a book on it. This quote in particular changed my life. I realized that if you can’t go to function and by the end know who are the Christians by how they act, then we’ve done something wrong.

Yet as a church, we’re not very good at constructive advice on how to live differently. Congregants want an instruction manual on faithful living. The clergy seem resistant to provide one, perhaps for fear of becoming Catholic (X in the morning + Y in the evening = Christian). I, however, don’t find practices nearly as suspect. Our grandmother, Judaism, is based in the principle that practices and rituals are a natural response to faith, and reproduce that faith. A routine of practices is in fact the Christian life.

So pray twice a day. Read the Scriptures. Join a covenant group. Love til it hurts. Volunteer. Give more money than you can afford. Forgive. This is what it means to live differently. It’s far more radical than it appears. The unspectacular practices are just that: practice. Moses had to spend 40 years in Midian doing the simple stuff before he could tell Pharaoh, “let my people go!”

For what are we practicing? What Rev. Moore called “God’s great project.” We’re working toward no less than the salvation of humankind. Brick by brick, my son, brick by brick.

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My school usually has chapel on Monday night, but for Palm Sunday, we had a special service. I was a liturgist or I probably wouldn’t have been there – procrastinating on papers takes time, you know. Palm Sunday coincided with Alumni Weekend, so we had some important guests. Since it was a special occasion, the college choir performed (note my word choice) “I Lift My Eyes to the Hills.”

I hated every moment of it. (more…)

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College Apologetics

I started this blog on the premise that Christian faith in college was not necessarily harder, but different than faith elsewhere. And one thing I’ve found interesting is that no one has disputed that premise. Nobody has called me out as a whiny, over-privileged martyr. Maybe you should have. Christians should not get to make generalizations about God, faith, or the spirit without an explanation. Here’s my experience. (more…)

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