Monday, October 08, 2007

Off the Beaten Tract

This past weekend Fellow Traveler and I went on a leaf-peeping excursion up and down the Lake Huron Coast -- West Branch to Tawas up to Oscoda and then back down to Standish. (FYI for any fellow Michiganians: Not much leaf action on this side of the state -- the leaves are quite a bit more colorful even around here in Outer Podunk and surrounds, and in the Tri-Cities area.)

We stopped to shop in touristy downtown East Tawas -- down one side of the street and up the other. In the time it took to get back to our vehicle, someone had 1)stolen FT's clip-on U of M flag off the window; and 2)slipped an inky, low-production-value tract onto the passenger seat warning that "Your life may end in the next five minutes -- where will you spend eternity?"

(Sidebar: If you want to drive a fundamentalist crazy, if they ask you the above question face-to-face, tell them that, because your ultimate trust is in the saving power of Jesus Christ, whether your demise happens in the next five minutes or the next 50 years is irrelevant in terms of the quality of your faith. It's also a handy response to the Rapture theology folks who seem to think that discerning the inside scoop on penultimate things is somehow going to make us shape up and fly right -- hey, if I step off the curb on my lunch break and get run over by a car, or stroke out at my desk while I'm eating my sandwich, then today is my last day...why should the last day concern me any more? But I digress.)

My comment to FT at the time was that I sincerely hoped the tract person wasn't also the person who'd walked off with the U of M flag -- although I never assume anything.

But the more I thought about the tract, the more bemused I became.

How, exactly, is an anonymous drive-by tract fling "evangelism"? What exactly was supposed to have been our response to this cheesy little booklet tossed onto the seat? How was this tract in any way representative of the Christian proposition -- that God loves us, saves us and calls us into healed, healthy relationships, with God and other human beings, based on love and service?

A new book , UnChristian, explores the decreased willingness of Americans, especially younger ones, to identify themselves as Christians, and the reasons why.

I think the tract someone tossed into our Jeep, and the mentality behind it, is a good example. I wish the freelance distributor had tried to save a tree instead of me.


Trish said...

"God loves a tree for its tree-ness; God loves me for my me-ness!" Sorry I don't know where this quote originally came from!

P.S. an after-thought said...

That tract reminds me of those semi cutesy, semi nasty church signs. There is always a dig and one always wonders who exactly it is aimed at.

Johann Cornelius said...

The wording in the tract you received seems fairly mild compared to some I've read. Many of the tracts and billboards written in this vein try to evoke fear or terror to "bring people to Jesus"; terrorists for Jesus, as it were.

LutheranChik said...

I wonder how that slogan would look on a T-shirt? [finger on chin] Although fundagelicals are terribly irony impaired; and wearing something like that would probably get you detained in airports.