Friday, May 20, 2011

What's Back There?

I'm always curious about how things work behind the scenes. The first few years doing football stats for a 4A varsity team, I spent every pregame time agog at the field-level view of preparations. The few stage productions I've been involved in were fascinating literal behind-the-scenes experiences. I love singing in the church choir and looking out at the congregation, watching their responses to the service. And, like everyone, I sometimes wonder what "they" think of me or "us". Don't you?

This morning, I picked up The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, by Kevin Roose. This young journalism student from a famed secular university wonders what like is like at, of all places, Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. What better way to learn about it than to go under cover and enroll as a student? I'm only a few chapters in, but it's a compelling read and I have to find out what happens. For once, I'm not going to skim and skip ahead in the story.

Because Kevin is not an evangelical Christian, will he be able to pull of an imitation of one? Can he keep his language acceptably clean, and will he be able to adopt the right amount of Christian-sounding jargon to fit in with the other students? Do I listen to what other people say, or am I too wrapped up in judging how they say it?

Are the "real" Christian students really, uh, real? Are they genuine folks, or are they cardboard cut-out facades with no depth of character? How long will it take Kevin to spot a fake? How do people view me -- shallow and conniving, or solid to the core?

If someone discovers Kevin's identity as an impostor, what will their reaction be? Will they ostracize him, out him, or will they pity him? How do I judge people, and how does that change how I act toward them?

One of my strengths as a codependent is a drive to be likable. I shrink away from anything that someone could find distasteful in me. Ugh. Let me rephrase that. My greatest weakness is that drive to be likable! It's tricky to balance those things that should be staunch convictions while also needing to be accepting and understanding. Most people do what they do, not to be bad but because they feel a good reason to do it. Some of those actions are bad, a few horrific, but many just happen without a lot of rationalization. I'm out of my depth in theological terms here, but I hold that mankind is predisposed to be selfish, and therefore makes selfish (and sinful) choices. It should go without saying that I'm in that boat with everyone else. It would be silly for me to deny this.

Am I real? I hope so. At least, I'm trying to be.

Thanks for listening.


The Williams Five said...

That sounds like a fascinating book. I'm going to check it out! Thanks!

Sandra said...

That book intrigues me too. I'll look for it. And I found the whole post very thought provoking. Thank you. It's always good when we're encouraged to think! :)

Katharine said...

I'd love to hear what others think after reading this book. Anyone?