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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

On Evangelicals.

A lot of Catholics desperately need to get a grip on the evangelical phenomenon and the people who inhabit those circles.

Sure, there are the way-past-shell-shock veterans of the Endless Rhetorical Wars of The Sixteenth Century here and there, especially in 'NetWorld (a place with some, but not necessarily significant, overlap with reality). The unblinking, CO2 breathing fanatic who regurgitates at will the content of Chick tracts or the arguments of a favored windy apologist whom he invests with far-beyond-papal infallibility, those whose asserted love of Christ comes fully equipped with fanged illogic and hair-trigger invective.

But they are the minority. Come on--how often do you run into these folks? My experience is 2-3 times total since my conversion. Yet, despite this fact, Catholics return the favor with this:

"Where do you meet evangelicals who are not 'like that'?? I have yet to meet one, sorry to say."

To which I reply, given that ours is still an overwhelmingly Protestant nation overwhelmingly populated by Protestant citizens (at least in mindset, if not practice):

"How do you manage to post comments from Hell, anyway?"

Get out more. My less-but-still-flip response: "How about workplaces, neighborhoods, bookstores, concerts, sporting events, county fairs, restaurants, classrooms...?"

My experience with real flesh and blood evangelicals has been that they are the polar opposite of the Internet Warrior Versifiers. My brother, my next-door neighbors/friends (who often find Catholic distinctives flabbergasting, if not disqualifying us from genuine Christian status), and dear friends outside the neighborhood all testify against the Great Evangelical Ogre that exists in far too many Catholic minds. Their are people who walk the talk of a Christian life, in sincere word and deed.

Yes, the dicks are out there. But so are the Chucks (Colson), and there are a lot more Chucks, if you pay attention. If you sit down with their best works, you'll find a worldview far more amenable to Catholic thought than the stuff cranked out by publishers who claim to wear their Catholicism on their dustjackets. Let me put it this way--there's a lot more Inter-Varsity Press on my bookshelf than from two of the biggest Catholic publishers (who shall remain nameless).

It's not all snake-handling, ululating and people with big hair pestering the Almighty on basic cable. Get past the caricatures to the real people, and there's something very worthwhile.

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