If you read my last post, then you’re probably wondering why I went off on a tangent about the Methodist church in the middle of series that’s supposed to be about my Campus Crusade Bible Study. I did that for a couple of reasons:
1. I wanted to establish that I was living in two very different Christian circles at this time. Even though I hung out with the Campus Crusaders, I didn’t even attend an evangelical church service until I soured on the Methodists (more on that later).
2. I wanted to contrast how Methodists viewed me versus how my Campus Crusade friends viewed me. Because there were good reasons why I didn’t just ditch the Campus Crusaders and embrace the Methodists.
Both groups diagnosed me with the same illness: pop culture had corrupted my worldview, and my fondness for secular TV, movies, and music was getting in the way of my relationship with God.
Believe it or not, the Campus Crusaders were much more reasonable about this than the Methodists were. The Bible Study gang tried to get me to like Christian rock. They’d play the latest CCM hits with the hope that I’d enjoy it enough to throw out all of my Nirvana cd’s. They showed me brightly colored charts geared towards young people looking to make the jump away from secular rock (i.e. “If you like Pearl Jam, try DC Talk…”). It was a Christianized version of Amazon’s recommendation list.
In spite of their obvious distaste for secular music, I often exchanged mix tapes with them, and they’d listen to them with me or give me feedback about the music itself. While they found the songs I gave them “too depressing”, I give them credit for taking the time to listen to them frequently enough to form opinions on specific tracks.
Things got more awkward when it came to movies and TV, though. I’d always end up suggesting movies that had ended up on Focus On The Family’s blacklist of stuff to avoid, and they’d always get whispery and nervous when I made an inappropriate suggestion. Sometimes, they’d come out and tell me why a movie was dangerous (usually it was because of a sex scene). Other times, I’d go back home and rewatch the movie in question and try to figure out which scenes had flipped their red alert switches.
The Methodists, on the other hand, wanted to do an intervention. I remember one particularly haughty couple who kept advertising their desire to go into my house and scour it for inappropriate media that they would then throw out or burn. They couldn’t fathom why I declined their offer.
So the difference between the Methodists and the Campus Crusaders was twofold: the evangelicals assumed that my taste in media was evidence that I wasn’t a Christian. They wanted me to choose to toss out my secular stuff. Tossing it out would be evidence of my desire to cast aside worldly influences and devote myself to Christ. The Methodists, on the other hand, didn’t really think in terms of getting me born-again or saving my soul. They approached me as if I had a psychological affliction – some invasive pop culture surgery was necessary to heal me and help improve my spiritual outlook. Even though the Bible Study’s assumption about my spiritual state was more extreme, their approach was much more diplomatic.
And for what it’s worth, the Methodist church’s library had all of James Dobson’s books in its library.