“Jesus was not crucified for saying such things as, “See the lillies of the field how they neither toil nor spin.”
No, he was crucified for telling people the truth and calling people to repent.
“The fear of man bringeth a snare.”
I generally prefer to call things as I see them. This is sometimes offensive to certain sensibilities. I have prayed much about this and intend to continue speaking with clarity about what I observe.
A few have expressed their concern that I am not culturally sensitive when writing about these observations. I know, I know, “The fool speaketh his entire mind.” Let me inform you, what I write is the better half of it. I would like to be clear, I am more interested in the kingdom of God than I am national patriotism or the sacred cows of Evangelicalism.
When I am in church – my church in America on July 4th (Independence Day) and people begin standing all around me with their hands over their hearts lustily singing, “America the Beautiful” I am anxious to point out that this doesn’t seem to me Christian and especially when they won’t sing, “Amazing Love” with the same gusto. I don’t mind so much they sing about America as long as they don’t worship America. Americans have a tendency to wrap Christianity in the stars and stripes.
I do not treat American culture as superior nor do I handle them with kid gloves. I have no divided loyalties. The kingdom of God comes ahead of all Ceasars. They cannot both be God.
Though I love them, I am just as forthcoming about what I detect in my own nations (Canadian and the United States) and churches as I am that which I observe when I travel to other countries.
Last week I wrote about the price of pizza in Tonsberg, Norway. A visitor to my blog complained that I was being culturally insensitive. Did they read all of my blogs? Do I say nothing commendable about Norway or Norwegians? I simply found the price of pizza unreasonable when compared to the size of an American missionary wallet. (I feel the same way when I look at the price of a Ralph Lauren shirt at Dillard’s department store in Charlotte. I won’t be gouged an extra $30.00 for a logo.) Give me a break! Lighten up! It was good pizza but it was not justifiably good enough to charge $36.00 for it when you can buy a better pizza in Italy for $8.00.
Does writing this sort of comparison indicate that I think Italy is superior to Norway? Am I a cultural elitist for pointing this out? Was it a criticism or simply information? Am I writing an academic research paper or an “as you go” travelogue?
This kind of criticism is insane. Norway excels Italy and the United States in many ways. For one thing every train that goes by is not covered with mindless graffiti as it is in Italy. Do I like this? You bet I do? Do I like when everything runs on time as it does in Norway? You bet I do. Do Italians show up on time? No, Norwegians they show up on time. Information like this isn’t interesting, it’s predictable!
A Norwegian friend who had recently visited America remarked that she found American commercial white bread disgusting. When she said this, I wasn’t insulted and had to agree with her. I have no idea why they continue to make such stuff and pass it off as edible. I have no idea why people continue to buy it. It is anything other than “bread” and once you have tasted breads from other parts of the world you will likely share this same perspective.
Does this mean I find nothing virtuous or good about America? Absolutely not. When a European will sometimes say, “I hate Americans!” I will respond, “Yes, there are some pretty awful Americans, but have you met them all? In my view there are no people like those of the American heartland. To hate Americans would mean you’d have to hate Mexicans, Irish, Polish, Africans – in essence you’d have to hate the entire world.
When George Bush was President many Frenchmen would tell me how much they hated George Bush. I would be sympathetic but tell them that should France ever be attacked by a hostile enemy, the first phone call they would make would be to George Bush.
Are there things about American and Canada that disturb me? Of course. Am I concerned about the state of the church in both countries? Should I be concerned about the lifeless condition of the evangelical church in Europe? Perhaps I should just, “whistle through the graveyard.”
I will not for the sake of popularity and approval, play the ostrich.