The Wizard of Os


Sometimes I feel like I go out of my way to offend people, but I promise that’s not my goal in life. Well, not most of the time.

Os Guinness spoke at the law school a few days ago, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to listen. He is a brilliant orator, and as he held forth on the dastardly “speed” at which our culture lives, I thought he struck an important chord. He had terrific things to say.

(I also thought that his appearance and his accent combined to make him sort of a mixture between Ted Kennedy and Benny Hill, but that is beside the point.) 🙂

Anyway, this is my attempt at saying that I really enjoyed listening and that I thought his topic, delivery, and message was great. The fact that I’m going to criticize his speech as potentially idolatrous may sound like I didn’t enjoy myself.

As a former preacher, I’m not fond of critiquing another person’s lecture on what they said or didn’t say. No one’s perfect. But I want to use Mr. Guinness’s impressive speech to highlight a larger problem I perceive in this religion called Christianity. Here it is in a nutshell: People are fond of saying stuff about the world taking Christ out of Christmas, but I think “the Church” has already taken Jesus out of his very own religion.

Oh, we like bloody Jesus as someone who paid off our debts. And we have the warm, fuzzy Jesus who looks like Mr. Rogers putting on his sweater. But Jesus as a life teacher–as someone who proposes a way of living life–is MIA. It just isn’t there. And we don’t even miss it.

This was glaringly evident during Mr. Guinness’s talk the other day, but I don’t think many noticed. Here we are at a Christian law school listening to a Christian speaker talk about how to approach the world in a Christian way as Christian lawyers. And Mr. Guinness nailed it. He really did. He honed in like a laser on a massive problem in our world, and he expounded beautifully on how this is a problem and presented ways to live differently.

But he never once pointed to the example of Jesus’s life as a way to approach it. Not once.

And we don’t miss it.

Please listen to me – I’m not criticizing Mr. Guinness. I’m saying that this is normal. We don’t even expect our Christian teachers to point to the “way” Jesus lived to teach us how to live our lives.

Again, Jesus is good for a bloody reminder of sin and that we should play nice with others, but we don’t even comprehend that the way Jesus lived would have any bearing on the size of our house or the busy-ness of our day planner or the amount of food we consume or the amount of time we spend watching television. Or anything else that makes up our “real” life.

I am convinced that this is central to what Jesus had to say. Jesus proposed a “way” of life and had the audacity to propose following his lead. This is critical to following – looking his way to see “how” to live.

If I die an old man and accomplish nothing else in life than getting a few folks to start noticing that Christian teachers aren’t offering this, then my life may have been worth the trouble.

4 Responses to “The Wizard of Os”

  1. jazzbumpa Says:

    Well, I have to believe that most Christians in this country, at least, find the whole “turn the other cheek” thing to be pretty forgettable. And there may have been something about the virtue of poverty . . .

  2. urbino Says:

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. As always.

  3. alsturgeon Says:

    C’mon, Jesus wasn’t French, JU. He was American.

  4. urbino Says:

    Heh. Like you were saying: Jesus is irrelevant.

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