Thursday, December 03, 2009

What Shall We Do with the Daft Street Preacher?

Author and Greenbelt speaker Shane Clairborne has a piece in the latest issue of mens magazine Esquire. It starts with an apology:

I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives

and illustrates this with a scene from the Philadelphia street scene

We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn't quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don't know Jesus.

Clairborne had a dilemma

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, "God is not a monster." Maybe next time I will.

and we're reminded of what Jesus did
In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay "out there" but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, "Nothing good could come." It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society's rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

I really really wish that all the Christians would have a moratorium on being weird, whether it's passing on conspiracy theories about a global economic order, shouting at people on street corners, or even doing those prayers which you suspect aren't really directed at God at all, but a covert form of preaching to everyone else who's listening. Maybe it's just time to shut up for a bit.

and what would you do with the street preacher? If option A is to set the Christmas Linebacker on him, what's option B?

HT Banksyboy.

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