Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Translating the Emerging Conversation into Portuguese - V

One constructive critic I have of certain expressions of Christianity in the US is the problem with proselytism. I think the best person that illustrates the problem is Mark Driscoll, from Mars Hills Church.
There is something in the American culture that impels Christians to 'evangelize' - read proselytize. That is, to go on in campaigns to inculcate one's faith onto another person, the target. I suppose this urge comes from their capitalistic worldview, but this is my speculation and it doesn't matter much for this argument. I recall what the theologian Stanley Hauerwas wrote:
"Consider the problem of taking showers with [Christians]. They are, after all, constantly going on about the business of witnessing in the hopes of making converts to their God and church. Would you want to shower with such people? You never know when they might try to baptize you."
Yes, we are called to spread the good news, but little time is devoted even in the US to understand what the good news is (recall that the medium is the message), let alone on the ethics and ways of 'spreading it'. Not to mention that evangelism is one praxis of the Christian faith, but definitely not all there is to it. I remember what I heard from a biologist describing male bees: they were sperms on wings, in her own words. That is, they existed to procreate. They existed as a function of themselves. That's a terrible answer to the existential question.
Back to Driscoll, I listened to many of his sermons from Mars Hills Church. And by other associate pastors. Frankly, I couldn't see much difference from other conservative evangelicals (other than perhaps a behavioural attitude that is a tinny different).
Here's the problem in a nutshell, IMHO: come-to-us, seeker-sensitive, let's-grow-and-multiply (and take over the world?). Ok, we drink beer. Ok, we listen to rap. Ok, we use technology. Ok, we are in Seattle and not in Texas. But so what? Beyond that I still listen to the blah blah blah of homossexuality (like a broken record), how to be a good husband, three steps to overcome sin, how the Bible is right and careful there are a lot of herectics out there, missing the point on The Shack, and on and on and on. (end of rant).
Ok, now the difficult step: translating that into Portuguese...
I think that we in Brazil must look beyond these quarrels and limitations of the American de facto Christianity. We must be ready to speak and listen in a globalized world. And believe me, homossexuality is not on top of the agenda. We must take a look inside our borders (within Brazil) and understand what is going on. We must take a pulse and feel our own culture and desires and aspirations. We need to learn our own History (we don't even know it, let alone interpret it). We need, then, to think about our Christian/Brazilian identity in a globalized (postmodern, postcolonial) world.
That is why I think we must be very careful in importing or praising some models of American Christianity, taking them at face value. I think that the new expressions of church, the folks at very early stages of rethinking church must be very open minded and work and cooperate with different voices of the Christian faith. In Portuguese, in Spanish and in English (perhaps in this order).


Anonymous said...

Hey Gustavo
Your rant deserves a comment.

I see most of your English writing is about software - thats a shame, because your Portuguese posts appear much more interesting to me!

You are like me a "hermanaut" - one who moves between worlds.


Gustavo K-fé said...

Hi, Nic, thanks for your comment.
I know, indeed most of my comments are split that way. You will still find, however, a few posts in English related to non-software stuff, such as Christianity or the emerging conversation. I haven't had much comment or readership related to them, so they were relatively few. There is so much material out there in English already too. Few people seem to the interested in North-South dialogue, for instance. I'll keep your comment in mind, my friend!