I live in Oregon, what I consider to be a little-known paradise. Most people are unaware it contains the deepest lake in America and a rugged volcanic & mountainous landscape. Less than a week into my visit I knew this was where I wanted to live. I had traveled for months throughout the US, and though I never left my Pennsylvania home with the intention of moving, it’s exactly what I did.
No offense, truly, to those who call it home – but I don’t think I’d ever enjoy living in the South (aka in the former confederate states of America). It’s merely a matter of preference. Truth be told one big reason is the South’s incredibly strong Christian fundamentalist culture. Though it isn’t necessarily the birthplace of the movement, it’s easily the epicenter.
Fundamentalists get picked on quite a bit, especially in the last decade or so. Their views are often pinned as ludicrous and silly, and they get pegged as redneck Christians (I don’t endorse this label). Their bad rap comes from…
- their association (though not official) with conservative politics and narrow social issues
- (sometimes) racial discrimination
- being vocally pro gun and supportive of military endeavors
- anti-rock music, anti-dancing, anti-fill-in-the-blank.
If I’m honest I’ve often wondered how some people could so badly misconstrue the Christian message, and actually turn it into a reason for war on other cultures.
In reality these aspects of a Fundamentalist, Southern Baptist or whoever likely reflect the person’s personal preferences, culture and values, and are not God’s viewpoint. They have merely transposed them onto Jesus and his preferences, culture and values.
It’s pretty obvious to us. To use the most extreme example, when Fred Phelps says God hates homosexuals, it’s far more likely that Fred hates homosexuals, and has projected that onto God.
But this post isn’t about picking apart fundamentalist or Southern Baptists. Instead I want to go a different direction – I want to see how we do the same thing – how we project our culture and values into our version of Christianity and assume God holds them too.
Instead of critiquing your local Southern Baptist and rolling your mental eyes, let’s wonder aloud about our own projections. This post doesn’t contain answers, as its probably easier for people outside of ourselves to point them out. As I thought of this subject the last couple of day’s I struggled to come up with any. Not because I think I’m free from them, but because I have trouble seeing my projections for what they are.
I think that some of the polarization and subsequent heated arguments that ensue could have some of their power and sting taken away if people realized that conservatives, culturally, play it safe, and liberals by contrast take risks. It’s more of a matter of preference then rightness.
Use some self reflection – for evangelical Christians – what do you think is moreso our culture than Scriptural?