When I should have been getting on with preparing the Lent course, I was distracted by this:
a documentary about a 13-year old girl from a fundamentalist and somewhat (although not excessively) isolationist family. Some of what she has to say, and some of her take on the culture and society of many 13-year-olds is quite refreshing. It is wonderful that she doesn’t know who Brittney Spears or Victoria Beckham are, nor who John, Paul, George or Ringo were.
She travelled to spend a couple of days to be with her brother at University. It was her first encounter with the drink and party fuelled student lifestyle. In all honesty, I was more intreiged by her brother, who was at the real sharp edge between this home-schooled hardcore faith and the secular world: I wanted to know more about him than about the inevitable culture shock.
Two things stood out: one was the family’s dogma – uncompromising sola scriptura, fuelled by US-based fundamentalist preaching on the Internet: “we believe the bible as the inerrant word of God, and accept no interpretation of his word” – except that that in itself is an interpretation, and you are kidding yourself if you think otherwise. If you use a translation, then you are subject to interpretation. Recognise it, and deal with it. Intelligently.
The second was her obsession with hell. I realise it might have been selectively edited, but throughout this hour she kept returning to the same theme. Her brother said “I sometimes wonder if she shouldn’t focus on the positive sides of Christianity as well”. Hmmm. Yes. Sometimes, what damaged, sinful people need to know is that Jesus loves them. He loves them so much.
There is more to faith than heaven and hell. There is the Kingdom of God to be built in between. Only if you understand that Jesus loves you, will there be any imperative to do anything about it.