From: Paul Wright <paul-wright@verence.demon.co.uk>
Newsgroups: uk.religion.christian
Subject: Re: Party for Jesus

In article <37EA32DA.701AE8FB@bigfoot.com>,
Steve Cleary  <scleary@bigfoot.com> gave us the Grauniad:
The Guardian said:
>Across a broad range of universities, from Oxford and Cambridge to
>Nottingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Southampton, the
>Christian Union (CU) is now the biggest university society

Not in Cambridge it isn't, the Dancer's Club is. Or the Union Society if
you count life members.

>This missionary onslaught in higher education is leaving new students
>from even mildly liberal or left wing backgrounds thoroughly
>disconcerted and alienated.

Bzzt.. confusion of evangelicalism with right wing political views. I
suspect that the Guardian doesn't have the categories necessary to deal
with Christianity. I never had a problem being mildly left wing at
university.

[ interview with someone from Durham: ]
>But the most destabilising thing, according to her and other students
>she introduced me to, is that today's campus Christians don't look like
>the traditional awkward, lonely Godsquadders. They appear, like Coastal
>Dune's members, to be positively trendy. "You have to imagine," she
>says, "talking to a really cool-looking man at a party or in the pub,
>and after about two minutes he's talking about his relationship with
>Jesus. You just get out, fast."

This reminds me of that Adrian Plass sketch: the one where the bloke is
interviewed about how he got into Christianity, in the same way that
some current affairs programme might interview someone about their drug
habit. You know the one: "I suddenly started reading the Bible, and I
couldn't stop..." etc. "Suddenly, he began to talk about Jesus... I got
out fast".

How dare they not look awkward and lonely? The cheek of it! When I was a
lad, wearing cycle helmets was compulsory, even indoors.

[ Owen Jones: ]
>"My opinion is that the CUs increasingly represent the WASP element,"
>he explains. "They tend to be very prescriptive and obsessed by what is
>and what isn't acceptable. So while there is a rise in student
>Christianity, there is no new or alternative view of faith coming out
>of the Christian union. We are essentially seeing a very conservative
>application of the bible. I don't see people say, 'I am not going to
>work for ICI or that multinational because I cannot agree with it.' I
>would be looking for real changes in attitude to the system in which we
>work."

This is about the first valid point in the article so far. I don't think
it's completely true, though. One of my CU friends told me off for
pulling into a Shell garage on the way to the houseparty, I remember, to
my shame. We were all aware of Jubilee 2000, the Nestle boycott, and so
on. The keenest people were the most internationally concerned, it
seemed to me.  The idea of serving abroad scared me, but I think I was
in a minority in not wanting to do it. A lot of people went into
full-time Christian work. I expect Cambridge grads could have got higher
paid jobs than that if they'd wanted to.

[ "Francis": ]
>"It seems to me that the process of student life is a process of
>enquiry, and bits of religion actually stifle enquiry.  Fundamentalism
>in any form does that."

Second valid point. Not enough discussion, not enough exposure to other
worldviews. Can lead to a brittle faith which breaks when the support of
the CU is removed.

>countless articulate students, who are perfectly bright but
>nevertheless believe they are in possession of a complete, all-purpose,
>irrevocable truth, and that no other religion could possibly have even
>a sniff of such truth.

Hmmm... you can read this a lot of ways. If they mean they are right
about everything, and no other religions have any truth in them, more
fool them. OTOH the gospel is true, complete, all-purpose and
irrevocable, and is found in no other religion.  The Guardian's
hyperbole makes it hard to find out what these people really did say to
the reporter.

>I have never heard the word "truth" spoken so often.

Shouldn't be allowed you know, relativism is the only true way...

>On the question of rebellion, it was hard not to note that few of the
>Christian students seemed to come from a Christian family.

Sample size? I'd expect a fair few Christians to be nominal Christians,
maybe with Christian family, who realised at university that they needed
to sort themselves out. There were also a lot of recent converts,
though. I wonder if anyone has produced figures for this.

>("You have to say," reflects Owen Jones in Cambridge. "That this is
>classic teenage rebellion 
...
>In a society when anything goes, how do you rebel? By saying,
>'Well, no, anything doesn't go.'")

Back to Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" again: if you've got a new
generation who've seen first hand the consequences of relativism, you're
probably going to end up with a generation of neo-Victorians. Odd to see
life imitating art. ISTR Stephenson seems to approve of this because he
thinks it actually produces a healthier society when there are
constraints on behaviour: the book is about the role of adversity and
discipline in growth, to a certain extent.

This whole "Christianity in 'popular' shock!" thing made me laugh, so it
was worth reading. I'm afraid the serious and valid points mostly got
lost in my amusement at the Guardian's horror that anyone with a brain
could reject their modernist worldview, and joy that Christianity is
very much alive and well among students. Worthy of Plass, as I said.

-- 
----- Paul Wright ------| If at first you don't succeed, you are running
-paul_wright@pobox.com--| about average.  -- Bill Cosby
http://pobox.com/~pw201 |