Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Yesterday, I came upon this article and was in a mix of emotions as a result of how it paints Evangelicals. The article is written as advice for politicians and how they should learn "our" language. Do we really have a different langauge? Are we really that stereotypical? The author's first prescription for politicians is to mimic some of our phrases. Below are the examples and suggestions:
1. Refer to "my heart":
a. Evangelical examples: asking Jesus into your heart, God is speaking to your heart.
b. Secular use: I feel in my heart, I know in my heart no matter how hard it may be, we need to provide basic medical care for every child in this country.
2. Say you felt "called" or were led to do something.
a. Evangelical examples: God called me to move to Seattle, to take up the ministry, to put John 3:16 on my eyeblacks. Richard Dawkins and I have been brought together.
b. Secular use: I felt called to take up the cause of health care for all.
3. Use the word "personal" liberally.
a. Evangelical example: I needed a personal faith. You aren't really a Christian until you have a personal relationship with Jesus.
b. Secular use: I have a personal relationship to the people in that nursing home.
4. Use the phrase "all the world."
a. Evangelical example: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
b. Secular use: Whether we treat health care as a basic human right will have ripple effects flow into all the world.
5. Talk about events that "changed your life forever."
a. Evangelical example: Accepting Jesus as my personal savior changed my life forever.
b. Secular use: Sitting with that dying child changed my life forever.
All right, when you look at these phrases, yes, we do use them a lot. If a politician wanted to appear noble and connected to his Christian constituents he could use these phrases. He'd receive some credit if used properly, but that doesn't mean that his words have the sanctity that ours do when we use them. Even though these phrases my be true stereotypes of our community, we know why we use them. We understand that the calling comes from Him---not from our desires or ambitions, but from The One True God.
We tell how our lives have been changed forever to give Him the glory. To remind ourselves and others that we cannot and could not do this alone. Yes, sometimes it may be used to try and save someone, but at the end of the day it should not serve to condemn someone for their disbelief---it should become a beacon of His steadfastness. Giving testimony works the same way. We don't just tell stories to be snobbish "I was saved at age 7" aka "I'm better than you because I've lived in faith longer". We tell our testimonies to up lift. To give hope to the hopeless. To steady those that are fearful. To proclaim our joy and appreciation for all that He has done in our lives. If a politician really wanted to connect to us, he need to adopt these truths. His testimony must be real and true. They must be as open and honest as Susan Hutchinson. Although our community may be condemned to outsiders, we must remain firm in our truths.
Later in the article, the writer discusses some of the things politicians should never do.
1. Calling Christianity a religion. It isn't. It's a relationship. Agreed!
2. Referring to Jesus as a good man. He wasn't. He was God. Eh...I take issue, but for the most part it hold true.
3. Using the word "tolerance." It's a bad word that means you are a moral relativist. Probably true. Generally, tolerance means that we aren't truly loving our neighbors or enemies, as were meant to.
4. Mentioning priests or bishops. Way too Catholic. Evangelicals call them ministers or pastors or preachers. Agreed!
5. Using the words interfaith, or spirituality. Those are words for wusses and imply spiritual weakness. Spirituality, I'm okay with since I use it a lot, but in general the author is probably right. It tends portray someone who is spiritual as someone who picks and chooses the best aspects of Christianity and other religions and melding them together. I admittedly am a member of this group, on certain aspects.
All in all, this author isn't completely off base. Stereotypically she has us pegged, but it's just irritating when politicians adopt these phrases and don't mean them. Yes, it does depend on the type of political race it is (councilman, representative, senator, governor, President, etc) and the location of the race (local, state, national) in determining whether or not a politician means what he or she says in Evangelese. However, if they're trying to win my vote through my religious beliefs, then I'm probably not going to vote for them. They have more influence on my vote through the issues they stand for than whether or not they share the same religious beliefs. If anything, politicians need to be true to themselves, stand up for what they believe is the brightest vision of our future and stick to their guns, because that has become a fleeting thing in this country.
Read the entire article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-tarico/speaking-evangelese-tips_b_322999.html. Make sure you listen to Susan Hutchinson's speech (the link is in the article). The ending is a lesson that we should all live by.
How do you feel about this critique of Evangelese? Should politicians stay out of our culture?