Brimstone & Bon Jovi

Last night Colucci and I went to Bon Jovi in San Jose. As we were walking toward the HP Pavilion (which is not an actual pavilion, by the way), there was a dude at one of the intersections standing on a step ladder and speaking into a microphone, holding a small boom-box-sized speaker. He opened with “be careful crossing the street,” which seemed harmless enough. He went on to say that “160,000 people die every day and the Bible has something to say about that.” Ugh. Here we go. That had to be the longest light I’ve ever encountered. He kept going on and on about the need to repent and that if we didn’t we’d die and go to hell. Someone shouted at him, “What about grace?” He got to that eventually, but not before there was some good old fire & brimstone shouting.

After the light changed and we all moved across the street, I heard some of the conversation. Most of it was mocking, laughing at them, one person was asking if they were Mormon or “born again”. Then we got across the street and there were more of them, holding signs, yelling at us about how concerned they were for our souls.

The most interesting thing for me was my own reaction, and it was strong and visceral and angry. I was so upset that these people claimed to be representing me and my faith and that they were going about it in such a negative, ass-backward way. I wanted badly to get in their faces, tell them to go home and shut up. I was humiliated. When I tell people I’m a follower of Jesus, that’s what I have to overcome. They don’t speak for me, or  the God that I know. They are misrepresenting the very essence of my faith and of who I am and I take it personally because I see it as very personal.

It’s so much easier to stand on a corner and shout at people than it is to do the real work of Christianity – to be formed, to serve, to help, to love. The way I see it, their form of religion is a lazy cop-out that is only about them feeling good about themselves for delivering some twisted version of the message of the gospel. Yeah, I’m judging them, because I judge myself by that same standard. They’re wrong and they’re going to answer for it.

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