Last night, I attended a free preview screening of “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers”, presented by the Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Oregon. The film’s creator, Dan Merchant, was present for a Q & A afterward. (He reminded me a bit of a Christian Michael Moore).
The film (and website) asks, “Why is the gospel of love dividing America?” There is no question of God’s existence, but rather an attempt at humility, focusing on where Christians have gone wrong. It’s a noble effort, and I applaud Merchant, a Christian himself.
An audience of about 100 was present, and I’m guessing I was one of only a few non-believers, and I’m pretty sure I was the only one sitting by myself!
One of the most touching segments was the “confession booth” that Merchant set up at the Portland gay pride festival, where he was the confessor. Each new (gay) person that entered the booth received profound apologies for Christian treatment of homosexuals, with specific details included.
Afterward, for the Q&A;, I finally mustered up the chutzpah to ask a couple of questions, stating I was a nonbeliever.
One of Merchant’s interviewees, liberal evangelical Tony Campolo, recounted a school experience 50 years ago, where he and other boys tormented a gay classmate so much that the kid committed suicide. Campolo recounted this in an extremely remorseful tone, yet referred to the dead kid’s sexuality as “that lifestyle.” This bothered me, and I mentioned it. Merchant replied that he can’t speak for Campolo, but he is older and perhaps the pc terminology isn’t quite there. I do know that “Tony Campolo contends that homosexuality is a sin in practice, though not in orientation—though he also argues that gay people living together in a committed, sexually active relationship, is morally preferable to less than monogamous relationships.”
My second question: Merchant pooh-poohs the notion that hurricane Katrina was God’s wrath against the “decadent”, while in the same breath claiming that God surely was part of the recovery effort (footage of him in New Orleans, all the love felt between rescuers and rescued, tears, etc.). My question, which I’m afraid came out a bit garbled, was/is: “If you get to decide what God’s will is and is not at any particular time, don’t you get to decide what God has in store, for instance, for me or anybody else?” In other words, how can a Christian such as Merchant, who can freely make arbitrary claims about God’s will, also decide that Christians have been too judgmental?
Despite its garbledness, I think my question was understood, and Merchant’s response was not very convincing. If I remember correctly, he simply said that he felt God at work and went into woo-woo land.
Most of the other questions were praise for the film by Crusaders, and there was quite a bit of love talk. There was a small-group exercise but I had to catch my bus. It was something about trying to understand how Christians sound to non-Christians, in an effort perhaps to tone it down.
All in all, an interesting evening, and a decent proposal on Merchant’s part to establish more peaceful connections. But quite a bit of argument from popularity (re Xtianity), which seemed to serve the purpose of reinforcing how much Christians are capable of loving . . . themselves.