The release of Image and Likeness has me thinking a lot about art as evangelization, perhaps unintentional evangelization, but evangelization nonetheless.
I also finally have a kid who will sing along with me to the radio, and most of the songs I find us both singing are by Twenty One Pilots. (BTW, Disclaimer: their music isn’t mine. I’m not making any cash off of them. I’m just sharing.)
Is their song “Heathens” art? Is it evangelization? Every time I hear it, I can’t help but think about evangelization, sharing Good News among bad. Bad? Bad people? Bad news?
Take it Slow
Nobody wants to hear that someone else thinks they’re wrong. I don’t. You don’t. We are wired to defend ourselves, for good or ill. We are social creatures, desiring unity, wound up to shun the one who disrupts it. If you start off too soon telling someone that you disagree, that bond is likely gone. Take it slow.
Wait for Them
“True Love Waits,” or so the slogan goes. Do you try to defend God’s love for your “heathen” friends because because you love them or because you just want to be right?
If you love them, you must wait for them to ask you Who you know.
Evangelization these days seems like it must take on the flavor of parallel play next to the cage aggressive. Do you want your friend to associate you with growing trust or a bid for dominance? The former? Please don’t make any sudden moves.
As I work on trying to share Image and Likeness with potential readers, I keep coming face-up against the clashing definitions of love that divide our culture. Is love the act of making someone feel good? Is love choosing what is objectively good for the person you love, even if it doesn’t feel immediately pleasant? That first definition is so short-sighted that, well… it often drives us into abusing each other, abusing ourselves: mentally, physically, emotionally.
We all live with that short-sighted definition of love. We’ve all been abused by it. We’ve all used it to abuse at varying depths.
We are all sinned-against sinners, isolated by the uniqueness of our own experiences. You don’t know the half of the abuse.
Our culture, which is run increasingly not by objective ideas of justice but by that aforementioned short-sighted definition of love, keeps adding ways to mock into silence anyone who threatens that already shaky definition of love. They want you to change your mind, to unsee what you’ve seen of objective truth, or at least shut up about it. If you don’t shut up about it, you’ll make them feel bad, and making someone feel bad is now the antithesis of love. That’s hate. Isn’t it? And hate should be punished.
They tried to warn you just to stay away.
One of Us
To the evangelizers of objective love , all that sounds like pretty bad news. Not bad people. Bad news.
Heathen friends are a dangerous place–okay, for themselves, but also for you… but not for the reason you think. One of the ideas that can creep or take over the mind of someone set on sharing the Good News is this: we have to save The Lost. Honey, we’re all The Lost.
We’re all behind these bars, bars of our own making. It looks like you might be one of us.
Please Don’t Forget
But if you knew somebody who knew a way out, even if that way involved hacking away at rocks, bit by bit, then crawling through a sewer… wouldn’t you take it? Wouldn’t you escape?
You would… but only if you realized that you were in prison in the first place.