Why Did You Tell Me?

I’ve seen this before, but it’s still a zinger (from Thought Potato)


As a former Campus Crusader, this strikes to the heart of “Good News-ism” (i.e., euphemistic evangelism).  A complete disrespect for another human being.  It was and is never about listening. . . only “sharing” the “message” of “love” (“and if you don’t accept, our God of Love will torture you for eternity”).  Until I learned to learn, and to learn by listening and honest dialogue, I was indeed “lost” in my personal world of faith.  Education and experience “saved” me.

For a literary parallel, I recommend Travels in Alaska by John Muir, who took a steamer ship to Alaska with some Presbyterian missionaries in 1890.  The preachers were going into the wilds to open churches and schools for the poor lost Natives.  I think that trip must have erased any vestiges of the oppressive Scots religion of Muir’s youth (his preacher father forced him to memorize the Bible).

Hear his description of what happened to the missionaries when the ship was approaching mainland Alaska:

“The mountains came into full view. . . Every face glowed with natural love of wild beauty. . . .  Every eye was turned to the mountains.  Forgotten now were the [missions] while the word of God was being read in these majestic hieroglyphics blazoned along the sky. The earnest, childish wonderment with which this glorious page of Nature’s Bible was contemplated was delightful to see.  All evinced eager desire to learn.”

Later, before the crew was ordered to cut down totem poles, Muir used the loftiest language he knew to describe the scene:

“It seemed strange that so important a mission to the most influential of the Alaskan tribes should end in a deserted village.  But divinity abounded nevertheless; the day was divine annd there was plenty of natural religion in the newborn landscapes that were being baptized in sunshine, and sermons in the glacial boulders on the beach where we landed.”

This is one reason I sometimes call John Muir a “natural saint” or “secular chaplain.”  He was a missionary with a decidedly non-supernatural “gospel” to proclaim.


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