Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On optics

A story in Tuesday's Boston Globe set me off a bit.
Concerned that the nation's incendiary culture wars have taken a toll on their image, Christian conservatives are joining liberals in calling for more government spending to combat global poverty and are urging fellow evangelicals to remember that their primary calling is personal ministry, not politics.
Something about the tone of that lead paragraph really rubs me the wrong way... sort of saying that Christian conservatives don't belong in politics.
But the real kicker comes later in the story...
Many leaders fear there is a widening perception that they (the evangelicals) are a harsh, and resented, presence in American public life.
Of course they're resented. They have the courage of their convictions to stand up against the moral relativism so prevalent today. The perception is created, developed and nourished by a media -- such as the Boston Globe -- that is less than friendly to them and the ideas they hold dear.
The story does acknowledge that Evangelicals, whether liberal or conservative, have always been deeply involved in poverty and relief work, as well as human rights, both at home and abroad.
Well, gol-lee, Sergeant Carter. You'd never know it from the media.
The evangelicals -- and the other faith-based groups who are active in trying to uplift the less fortunate among us -- have never been overly concerned with what my Canadian friends call "optics" -- how they look. They're not show horses, like many of the ones who ran amok on Saturday at Live 8. They're the workhorses of the anti-poverty effort. Always have been, always will be.
And have you ever noticed that missionaries are often targets of repressive governments and repressive rebel groups that would be governments? That's because the missionaries are not only bringing their Gospel, but they're bringing the tools to uplift those to whom they are preaching -- not just the tools of faith, but the tools to break the shackles of poverty and ignorance that hold them down.
So this latest move by some evangelical groups may be good for the "optics." But the way it was presented in this report tells me a lot more about the ignorance of the supposedly-informed than it does about any evangelical.
Rant off.