Embrace complex beauty of Christian culture

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

By Kari Johnson | Guest Contributor

I would like to respond to the current Lariat series on Christian culture. When considering my relationship to Christianity and Christian culture, I thought of the Baylor Theatre play I recently watched, “Godspell.” I deeply resonated with the exuberant, close-knit Christian community experienced by the disciples because that has been my own experience. The nurture and love I have felt in the Christian community have been incredible.

There are many who complain of the hypocrisy and judgmental spirit rampant in Christian culture. I don’t want to diminish anyone’s experiences, and I agree that these are genuine problems. But I would encourage people not to allow bad experiences with some Christians to prejudice them against Christianity in general. The majority of Christians I have known have been the most welcoming, self-sacrificing, warm and loving people you could ever hope to meet. Countless times, I have experienced authentic, vulnerable friendship; wise mentoring; uproarious laughter; comfort in grief and loss; and extraordinary hospitality within the Christian community. The Christians I know have not only brought me to Jesus through their teachings, but lived like Jesus through their actions.

It is trendy to complain about the “popular culture” of Christianity: the music, devotional literature, mug and T-shirt slogans and other tangible expressions of popular Christianity. Again, this merits consideration; the limited scope of biblical truth and ceaseless repetition of the latest worship songs can be annoying. But, at the same time, we should appreciate Christian popular culture for what it is: people trying to express their faith and devotion to God in practical, visible ways. There is something beautiful about that, and we shouldn’t look down on other people’s expression of faith. What might seem cliché to us is deeply meaningful to others; for example, the “Serenity Prayer” (which I usually consider overused) was mentioned on Baylor’s “Wailing Wall” of student prayers as a deeply meaningful expression of someone’s spirituality. To show contempt for Christian culture is, to some degree, to show contempt for other people’s faith.

Another pet peeve of mine is the whole concept of Christian culture in general. Christianity, at Baylor and elsewhere, is beautifully diverse and complex; it is not one monolithic, monocultural structure or perspective. From stately liturgical worship, to social justice advocacy, to dance and drama, there is something for everyone in the Christian community. If you are passionate about the intersection of Christianity and mental health, the environment or any other issue, you can rest assured that there are other Christians on campus who share your convictions. It is up to each of us, if we so choose, to experience the richness and beauty of Christian diversity and to find a community we can call home among the people of God.

I don’t want to be insensitive to people’s concerns, but I do want to encourage people to give Christian culture a chance. Visit a local church, Christian bookstore or on-campus Bible study. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Kari Johnson
Rainier, Wash.
History master’s candidate