Tuesday, July 11, 2006

How we come across to others . . .

Zidane, the French soccer superstar, lost his cool in the World Cup Final and got ejected from the game. I found an interesting post about that incident here by a Yahoo writer on health.

I've read a few pieces by this writer before, and there is a holistic spirituality in what he writes - but always, as in this article, he takes his wisdom from eastern sources.

Actually, I have no problem with his sources. I think everything he quotes is true. The wisdom is real wisdom about human nature and life. It's Truth.

It also just strikes me how different it sounds when this writer gives a Zen proverb, and how if a Christian writer were to pen a similar piece it would sound when that writer would quote scripture. I'm guessing here, but I suspect that the "Christian" writer would be heard differently.

The writer from a Christian perspective would be suspected of being authoritative and exclusive - of trying to make a definitive, deny-all-other-truths truth statement. I think many people see Christianity in that way - not helpful, but belligerent. Someone who doesn't play well with others, who only wants his own way. Who dictates and never listens.

I think many would see a "Christian" article to be subtlely calling for a conversion, to accept the Christian view. Of being implicitly "against" other views.

I doubt that anyone would read the article by this writer and think that he's out to convert his readers to Buddism or Hinduism. It's non-threatening, non-confrontational, because it seems like he's just trying to help. He seems to be helping people understand the problems of anger, and help them live differently. Actually, that approach may result in readers becoming very interested in Zen proverbs and the teachings of Hindu gurus.

I want my faith to come across that way . . . that I am simply trying to help. I hope that when I share the wisdom of scripture I don't seem confrontational, but open and helpful.

Which all makes me think about how Jesus came across when he was teaching . . .


Jim said...

I truly tried to come up with a sarcastic (cynical) comment relating Jesus to how Christians tend to come across today, but everything just came out blasphemous.

I continually find it amazing that He reserved his anger and judgmentalness (OK, maybe that's not a word) for the religious right, so to speak...

Frank Bellizzi said...


I read your piece, read the other guy's, and came back to yours. Good stuff.

Near the end of what you wrote, I was reminded how one magazine published by the Church of Christ used to put all biblical references in endnotes, not in parentheses. It seemed like something calculated to make the quote seem less commandment-like or legislative or something.

It always bugged the Bible banger in me, 'cause I'd have to go and look at the reference and then I'd lose my place in the article. I wonder if it irritated non-bangers who were distracted by all those numbers in the text.

There's probably something about the expression, "Now the Bible says . . . " (especially when pronounced with a twang) that's always going to put some people off, both religious and non. Familiarity can breed contempt.

Tone, inflection, emphasis. These are important. And sometimes they require not print, but voice; and touch too, when appropriate, not like Zidane's.

When I say that, I think of Andy Griffith saying to angry guys, "Now men . . . " (inflection slides up on the second word). Next World Cup, put two or three Andys on the field, . . . and everybody drinks a Big Orange.

vince said...

I find myself posting to lists and blogs where there's too much anger and shrill name calling, so, to find somewhere more uplifting to go, I googled "christian non-confrontational" blogs, and found this one. You folks don't seem to be very active, but I'm gonna make a comment despite the fact that it may never be read:

I find that I put too much thought and energy into how I may come across to others. I remind myself that nobody comes to Jesus unless the Father draws that person (insert proper scriptural reference here; I know it's in the bible, but I don't wanna take the time to look it up)to Jesus, and nobody knows the Father except those people to whom Jesus reveals the Father (insert scripture here). I conclude that it's not our job to convert anybody; it's our responsibility to answer questions about our faith (insert scripture), and, if God chooses to use our responses, they may spark something in another person's heart.

If we go beyond what scripture tells us to do, then we risk seeming authoritative or judgemental.

Greg Newton said...

Vince- sorry we've got too many "lurkers" and too few "commenters".

Good thoughts - being helpful without being judgemental.