Wednesday, May 5, 2010

There would be no pagans, if we were true Christians." -Saint John Chrysostom.

“The problem with faith ... is it kind of screws up your priorities. Your priorities shouldn’t be about saving your own (butt), which is the focus of Christianity.” So says Bill (Religulous) Maher in a recent edition of Newsweek magazine. Is he right?
Tony Rossi has a good article which looks at some examples of Christians living their faith and providing a good example for those around them.

However, I felt a certain sympathy for Bill Maher who obviously has not been privileged to run into a Christian truly living to the best of their abilities in a Christ-like fashion. It made me think of the quote with which I titled this post.

That in turn made me remember an encounter by Sandra Bullock when meeting the family who lived the original story told in her movie The Blind Side.
Sandra's perceptions of Christians changed with meeting Leigh Anne Tuohy, the woman she portrays in The Blind Side. Leigh Anne showed Sandra the reality of Jesus Christ by simply being herself and being real. Until meeting Leah Anne, Sandra was comfortable in her definition of Christians.

Bullock says she now has "faith in those who say they represent a faith." Through getting to know Leigh Anne, Sandra saw the authenticity of religious faith. "She was so open and honest and forthright," Bullock shares. "And I said, wow, I finally met someone who practices but doesn't preach."
We don't know who is watching when we are going about everyday life. It doesn't need to be something big, although many of the most inspiring examples are big steps of faith that have a big effect.

In each case, however, we notice that it is because the Christians in question were trying their best to follow Jesus' example, not trying to impress someone else. The benefits they appreciated most were those that they themselves felt from their sacrifices. It was that faithfulness that God used to do wonderful works that stood out to others. Which gives us food for thought ... how faithful are we, no matter who is watching. After all, God sees it all. What am I giving Him to work with?

I see that The Anchoress also was meditating on Rossi's piece, in a similar but different way ... as fits right in with her theme of the paradoxes of Christianity.


  1. "Bullock shares. 'And I said, wow, I finally met someone who practices but doesn't preach.'"

    The problem most of us have is understanding the strongest preaching we can do is "practicing." As St Francis of Assisi said, "It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.
    ." and "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."

  2. I'm personally more inclined to cut Sandra Bullock slack than Bill Maher. not just because she's dreamy, but because Maher actively seeks out religious believers to mock and disparage. I don't think it's that difficult to find Christians who actually practice what they preach if you actually look for them. Considering he did an entire documentary about religion, he should have been able to find people like Immaculee if he was being open-minded. It's certainly unfortunate that Bullock didn't encounter many people of faith who lived out their call to joy in her day-to-day encounters. I'm reminded of the great quote by Madeline L'Engle: "We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it."

  3. Very true, but look how long it took for St. Monica's witness to work for her husband, her mother-in-law, and of course, her son. Sometimes it takes repeated exposure ...

    I'm not saying that Maher isn't a hard case but that just says more about how many of us are NOT giving a Christian witness. I'd bet it wasn't hard for him to find people to mock. Which is sad. I didn't see the film but did he go after the Amish? Because I think they are looked at as truly living what they preach. In action and deed ... which is what L'Engle is saying also, as well as St. Francis. Where is that light that is so lovely that Maher can't deny it?

    (Although it did take Christ Himself to knock light and sense into St. Paul ... so don't sell Maher short. It could happen, but it might just take the Lord Himself. But that doesn't mean believers' witnesses aren't called for.)

  4. I admire your patience and charity toward Maher. If memory serves, you have some family experience regarding hostility to God turning into openness to Him? Since you've witnessed it first hand, you know it can happen. I sure hope it does for him some day.

  5. Your memory serves correctly.

    It doesn't mean I'd always say or do the right thing. Or that I wouldn't want to give him a hard slap sometimes. But it does mean that I'd try to do things right. And God's grace more than makes up the difference if we are simply open to turning against what "makes sense" to us. :-)