Culture At Large

A Magician's Christian Encounter

Jerod Clark

You've probably heard of the famed magic duo Penn and Teller.  If you know them well, then you understand that Penn Jillette, the one that talks, is a big time atheist.  Phil Cooke had this video on his blog where Penn is talking about a recent experience where a Christian gave him a copy of the Psalms after a performance.  His reaction is worth a watch.  The good stuff is towards the second half.

I was intrigued by the way Penn talked about this man.  He said he was "very, very, very good" and when on to use descriptors like polite, kind, honest and sane.  Obviously this one experience, and maybe 100 more like it, may never change the magicians views.  But I think it opened his eyes to the love and compassion Jesus shows through many of us.  Of course his reaction led to lots of questions for me.

Why is it a surprise for someone to see a Christian and say that person is nice and compassionate?  Why doesn't the world see us as kind, honest and sane instead of standoff-ish, pretentious and a little bit crazy?

The obvious and easiest thing to do is blame the media.  In past jobs, I was the media and I got blamed a lot.  There is no doubt the loudest voices get heard most of the time.  And many times the loud Christian voices are the ones who are extreme and not representative of many of us.  But I wonder if this is really the problem?  If the majority of Christians were acting out in kind and authentic ways, wouldn't society view us a different way despite the crazies in our mix?

This has always been a passionate issue for me.  I believe the way we act and live is our best witness.  Penn said it in the video, we would really have to hate someone to not share what we believe to be true that everlasting life exists.  I agree proselytizing can be good if it's done in an authentic way.  While it may not change Penn's life, although I hope that it can, it could change the lives of others.

I realize this isn't a new or ground breaking line of thought, but for some reason it's always an issue we as Christians face.  How do you view it?  What's the perception problem in your eyes?  Could it be the problem is the loudest Christian voices aren't really those who are acting out their faith in a polite, kind and honest sort of way?

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Faith, Evangelism, News & Politics, Social Trends, Media