Let’s Talk: A Sane and (Mutually?) Respectful Conversation with a Religious Fundamentalist
Today on the SLOG, Jonah Spangenthal-Lee linked to a blog post by Mars Hill deacon Joel Fariss, announcing his intent to host a “Mission in Capitol Hill” this Monday at Grey Gallery and Lounge. (Spangenthal-Lee is careful to note that this event is in no way sanctioned by the management of Grey.) For those of you who are unacquainted with Mars Hill Church, they are the notorious purveyors of a superficially “hip” spirituality that, among other things, fosters social conservatism, and that’s putting it mildly. Like, they are known for comparing homosexuality to cancer. Fariss writes,
I would love to talk with you more about the gospel of Jesus and the implications thereof, you can find me every Monday at Grey Gallery and Lounge on 11th between Pike and Pine on Capitol Hill: 5:30pm.
Hm. As far as I’m concerned, this ball has landed squarely in my court. Religion is my passion. Capitol Hill is my neighborhood. The gays and lesbians Fariss dismisses as inherently sinful are my friends and neighbors. And Grey is totally my turf (I had a solo exhibition there earlier this year.)
What’s more, I have a seldom-used superpower which was forged in the fires of a youth spent in Wichita Falls, Texas and fostered by a lifetime of obsessive delving into the history and psychology of human spirituality. That’s right. I’m quite good at talking with right-wing Christians. Some people get understandably flustered and angry in these emotionally charged situations. I relish them.
Why not just ignore him? I think we have a long history of ignoring religious fundamentalism and it hasn’t helped. Unchallenged opinions become dogma. But hostile, poorly-conceived confrontations are just fuel for the fire.
Joel Fariss, if you’re reading this, please note that I hereby take you up on your offer of a conversation about the Gospel of Jesus, our respective interpretations and experience of it, the missionary impulse, and all the rich and complex implications thereof. I’ll see you this Monday, June 8 at Grey. I promise to be sane, respectful, and compassionate.
But be forewarned: I intend to do everything in my power to save your soul.