Christians, the New Smokers

Lest you misunderstand, I have nothing to say about smoking. I am not sending out a message that smoking is reaching epidemic proportions among Christians or anything of the sort. No, the title of this little rant needs to be read along the lines of “Yellow is the new red.” (Or whatever is the latest flamboyant staple. Hmmm “latest … staple.” Even sounds odd when you try to explain it! :x)

Actually I’m making an observation about the way our society seems to work. Something—in my example, that would be smoking—comes under irrefutable censorship. Smoking, after all, is bad for your health. Who doesn’t know that these days? Once that fact became universally accepted, it was just a matter of time before smokers became more and more marginalized.

Here’s how it went in California. First smoking was outlawed in confined public places, then open air places like stadiums. Next was private businesses—airlines, restaurants, and such—then in private businesses not open to the public but with a number of workers who could be affected by second hand smoke. The latest here is beaches and cars carrying small children. There’s even been some talk about removing children from the home of a smoker. I think that might be foster kids, but it might be adoptive kids, too.

Again, the point is not to argue for or against the rights of smokers. It is this societal approach to eradicating the “undesirable.” Identify a problem in such a way that a consensus of opinion forms. Pass a law that treats the subject in the most reasonable way, thus avoiding any backlash. Then gradually add more and more restrictions.

That’s how I see things for Christians. The issue which is forming a consensus of opinion is “separation of church and state.” That seems to stand without refute. Never mind that the first amendment protects religion just as it does speech. That No Law is to be passed to restrict the exercise of religion. Whereas speech has been expanded to things like burning flags, exercising religion has been restricted from the public arena. More like smoking.

So what crusade am I advocating? None. Jesus said it would be like this. Well, He actually said it would be worse. Being marginalized is hardly the kind of suffering that Christians in Sudan undergo. Or a dozen other places we could name.

But in talking about God and about how we writers can show Him in our fiction, I can’t help but think about this issue of marginalization. Could it be that we might be susceptible to the pressure from society to move God into just the most private places?

Seeing movies like “The Passion of the Christ,” “Narnia” and “The Nativity Story” make the big screen heartens me. And the Left Behind series, for all its flaws, brought the discussion of the sacred out in the open.

Can Christian fiction, perhaps, do more? If we show God as a complex individual, active in the world, as well as over it all, would that perhaps bring about a reversal of the marginalization of Christianity?

Published in: on December 5, 2006 at 12:55 pm  Comments (4)  
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