Friday, July 8, 2011

My Friend Terry

"Who knows what evil lies in the heart of man? I do and it's scarry." - Captain Vimes (in Terry Pratchett's Night Watch)

I just found out that one of my favorite authors is dying - Terry Pratchett. He's a British humorist/satirist/fantasy writer who's been quoted as "being better at being Douglas Adams than Douglas Adams." I think he wrote his first novel at 13 and hasn't stopped since. He's written hundreds of children's stories, plays and novels. The guy is a marvel.

I was talking with a friend this morning about all the reasons I love Pratchett, and it struck me, as it often has, that one of the major reasons I like him is because of his thorough-going grasp of reality. Oddly, he sets his reality in fantasy.

In his fantasy he is able to portray so many human foibles, flaws and outright ridiculousness, that I always find myself sniggering and, if I don't open my mouth to snigger, snotting on his books. Melissa gets tired of me raving over Terry Pratchett. His thoughts are a rare gem, as are many "non-believing" authors.

As a Christian, I've often thought that since I have fuller revelation, there's not too much to be learned from non-Christians. What a fool! In fact, I'm finding that sometimes the opposite is the same. Sometimes Christian literature is vapid, emotional, religious, safe and boring. Kind of like some "Christian" music.

I forget that we're all humans rotating on this ball in space. We all face the same basic stuff, under the same God, in the same creation. So I shouldn't be surprised that people who don't follow God have a lot to say.

And for those of us who do, and try to produce safe, clean art, I sometimes wonder, is that what defines Christian art?

It's a big conversation, but one that I heard on the NPR yesterday as they were interviewing a Christian band, asking them what defines Christian music. The band-members gave a decent answer, that it is music that is focus on goodness in all of the facets of the word "good." A pretty good answer coming from the two band members - 15 and 31 years old.

But when they were being questioned whether they are offensive, I think they should have said "Hell yeah!" They answered that they weren't offensive but were in fact seeking dialogue, discussion, shared ground and connections with "non-believers." I thought it was another decent answer. I think they should have said they try and be offensive like Jesus, taking religious righteous prigs by the collar and shaking all the sin out of them.

So this brings me around to what's been bouncing around in my noggin for the longest time. When are we going to consistently going to preach the Gospel of Jesus? That Jesus hated religiousity. That Jesus hated oppression. That Jesus hated self-righteousness. Of course I'm kind of being a self-righteous prig in writing this, so ironically, he'd shake me around a bit too, or a lot!

Last week I had the huge privelige of being a part of a ancient Jewish market-place. It was for VBS, and my church was commited to really bringing Jesus' world to life. I was John, Jesus' favorite disciple and spent most of my time in early disciple (probably late too) mode: stealing from booths, hamming it up with the Romans, cutting deals with the Tax-collector, whining about how there was no fish booth, telling kids to get out of my way and talking about how confusing Jesus was. My take on the disciples was evident.

Jesus did a great job. He was kind to the kids, gentle and I felt like following him. But one of the ways we view Jesus was evident in the way we set up the skits. Jesus came into the market-place for the miracle or whatever and left. Umm, I don't think that was Jesus. In our fake-Jesus' defence, he had to get to work.

Our VBS Jesus couldn't help being good looking and tall (and Joseph Wingfield, if you're reading this, sorry for outing you). But apparantly Jesus wasn't attractive, and he was probably around just like everyone else. He wouldn't float in and float out popping off miracles from his finger-tips. That's what made Jesus so shocking. He was just some dude right? Raised in red-neck Galilee right?

Which brings me around to why I find so much in Terry Pratchett. We don't become saints when touched by Jesus, we don't always even see that much better, and Jesus doesn't descriminate between giving insight to believers only. He's in the mix with everyone, giving anyone a chance to come home in him.

So I may meet Jesus in Terry Pratchett. Of course there can't be the special kind of communion of believers between us, but God's grace is everywhere, and I've got to keep this in mind when hanging out with my "non-believing" friends. It's not "us/them" it's "us/Him," period.

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