Thursday, January 01, 2009

Listening Log

The Heretics episode of This American Life, is incredibly interesting, funny, moving. There are Christians in it, but they are really nice, and it's a window into something entirely foreign. I experienced similar - but less powerful - feelings when I read Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock, which I thought would be about terrible, commercially-motivated people, but was instead mainly about people raised in a certain way - within Evangelical culture - who wanted to make/hear music, with the writer mostly spending time with those who also wanted to challenge the mainstream arm of that impulse.

Anyway, I say listen to Heretics. If only for the hilarious story a young pastor tells of growing up believing the Rapture could come at any moment - believing, in fact, it had come whenever he would turn around and his mother wouldn't be where he last saw her... and he'd think to himself, "Rapture". The way he said it made me laugh out loud. Anyway, the program is largely about a celebrated evangelical, Reverend Carlton Pearson, who gets shunned when he comes to believe there is no hell. As he says, "It's like I died. And they mourned me. And now, they're pretty much over it." Still, there's this great story he tells about the relief he now feels at not having to try to 'save' everyone he meets - because he's come to believe we're all already saved. However, before, he used to feel guilty if he didn't witness to pretty much every person he met, for example, the guy sitting next to him on a flight. So he'd have to figure out some way of getting the conversation around to salvation, so he'd put his Bible on his lap or wear his cross prominently, just to get some inquisitiveness going. If the person didn't bite, he'd have to get a little more direct, as in, turning to them and casually asking, "So... where are you going to spend eternity? I have to tell you, it's probably in hell." Again, I laughed out loud when, remembering encounters like this, he said, "Guys, it was just horrible." What a dear fellow.

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