Wednesday, April 23, 2003

"Get it?" Or not?

CT senior writer Wendy Murray Zoba and journalist Dave Cullen were both covering the Columbine story when they went head to head over Cassie Bernall. Cullen broke the story that introduced doubt about whether Cassie's killer asked her if she believed in God ("Behind the Littleton Investigation,", Sept 23, 1999). Zoba challenged Cullen's reporting, citing multiple witnesses who heard the exchange and stood behind their account ("Cassie Said Yes, They Say No," CT, Dec. 6, 1999). In the story's aftermath, they began a dialogue that has resulted in camaraderie united by the intensity and complexity of covering Columbine.

Where Zoba and Cullen intersected over Cassie Bernall, Cullen and pastor Bill Oudemolen of Foothills Bible Church outside Littleton intersected over the role of the Devil. In another article, "I Smell the Presence of Satan" (May 15, 1999), Cullen expressed his surprise at the emphasis evangelicals placed on the role of Satan in the Columbine shootings (the article's title came from one of Oudemolen's sermons).

Cullen, who is gay and a former Catholic, segued into the world of evangelicals with reticence. He was prepared to despise them. He was surprised: he liked them, and they liked him.

Cullen, Oudemolen, and Zoba have all been challenged by what they discovered about each other and their differing worlds. The three met in Littleton in April and talked about how evangelicals and gays perceive one another--and how they can move toward greater understanding.

Click here for the rest of the article I'm referencing.

Can two people disagree strongly about the rightness or wrongness of anything -- even homosexuality -- and still respect each other as human beings, without one side resorting to hate rhetoric (at worst) or confusing rhetoric that often sounds like it (at best) or the other side resorting to convenient labels to dismiss their "opponents"?

Or let me put it this way: Is it possible to disagree over an idea or concept without that disagreement becoming a wedge between the people who hold dissenting views, even if the idea is one that strikes at the very heart of either or both sides, even to determine the nature and direction of their lives?

I think so. I hope so. Because it's in the dialogue that relationships happen. Because if I can't disagree strongly with my friends and continue to nurture relationships with people who disagree with me, I've lost any use I might have had for existing in a world as rich and diverse as the one I'm in. And so have those who can't say the same from the opposite side of where I'm standing (so to speak.)

I'm just thrilled to see a few more people from both sides of this crucial topic understanding that point.

Cullen: A lot of me wishes we had more open discussion about theological issues in this culture. But the public isn't doing that because it's afraid of the theological community.

I'm not sure I buy this comment, though. I don't think it's fear of the theological community. I think it's more lack or interest or the fact that the theological community isn't even on most people's "radar screen" -- because we in that community have removed theological ponderings to the world of academia instead of keeping it out where most people are, wondering about things like purpose in life, what can I believe in, who can I trust, is there life after death, how do I be a good parent, or why does my life seem pointless...

On the one hand, we've softened the concept to something "safer" and less academic called "spirituality," but ironically, that word tends to put off the Christian community because it opens theology up to any worldview to ponder -- as though we somehow had the exclusive right to ponder anyway, go fig -- in the same way the word "theology" puts off non-academics.

On the other hand, if there is "fear" of the theological community, I don't think it's as much fear as it is disgust or disrespect because theological folks (particularly of my brand of theology) have more recently been known more by what they stand against rather than stand for.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Not a rant -- More like an ad, or maybe just begging

Hip, hip, hooray! My CD, Pop Nightmare, is finally ready!

I received my copies this morning, and they look and sound great (okay, I'm biased, but hey, it does).

Here's a shot of the cover.

The tracks on it include:

1. Pop Nightmare
2. Tarry One Hour
3. Latido Fuerte
4. Wunderland
5. Party at the End of It All
6. Bring it On
7. Interlude
8. Ride
9. Drop
10. Nothing New
11. The Face of the Deep
12. Postlude

This is the year of the Sean, as far as I'm concerned. Two comic books. A new story in a comic anthology. A CD. And a short story collection. No wonder all my free time has disappeared lately.

So, scoot your comfy sides over to my mp3 site and order your very own copy if you want it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

A new rant
(ie, "Sean gets set off on his soapbox by a news article in the religious press")

Had a news article waiting for me this morning in my inbox at work that only reaffirms to me my previous post about how out of touch people in my chosen faith are with the world at large.

Here are two quotes that I thought were really interesting.

"The fact that something like 100 million Americans claim to be evangelicals is almost unbelievable to journalists."

This doesn't really surprise me. I find that most people I know tend to think that the world is mostly like they are. If you asked most people in evangelical churches a similar type of question (the one that would had preceded such a statement, that is), I'm sure they'd be equally surprised to find that more people than they would think aren't as religious as they are, at least not in the way they might consider genuinely religious. Sure, they might know the polls and stats from various pollsters, but I don't they really know many people outside their own church friends.

"Kristof wrote, "I cannot think of a single evangelical working for a major news organization."

Of course he can't. Two reasons.

1. It would never occur to him to ask. Nor should it.

2. Because by and large they aren't there.

Most Christians I know consider working in media or arts to be roughly the same as becoming some type of (at worst) weirdo or (at best) naive or irresponsible (after all, they should be working at a "real" job, like plumbing or office managing, right?). Not when they should have some sort of Mecca-like fixation with working in the "ministry" -- professionally, of course.

Personally, I think that's one of the main reasons that the first quote is so true -- because so few people in my faith care anything about taking part in the culture that makes up our world. Of course, they use the much-abused passage in which Jesus says to be "in the world and not of it," but sadly, I think they tend to gloss over the part about actually having to be "in" the world in their haste not be "of" it. To me, that means we have to be active participants in the world. We don't have to cease believing what we believe to do that. And we don't have to create a "Christian subculture" with our sub par, "safe and sanitized" copies of everything the world offers, from music to paintings to politics.

Myself, I want to be part of what the article calls the "media elite." I want to be one of the people writing screenplays and novels and music and entertaining people of all faiths and all by being real and authentic to and about who I am.

I just wish there were more of us.

NOTE: Not "more of us" as in some kind of evangelical media takeover attempt to get "clean" -- whatever that means -- media to replace all the "liberal" media. I have to specify that because there are those who do espouse such an approach. I, however, simply mean I'd like to see more people of my faith actually engaging the culture rather than hiding from it.

Okay, rant over.