The Conversation Begins …

27 08 2009

You know you’ve hit the big-time when someone retweets you. So imagine how big it is to have someone using an excerpt from your book! Of course, that might lose a bit of its impact when it is your own blog excerpting your own book. … Anyway, after you read Dan’s thoughts, please joint the conversation in Comments!

The thing about the bumper-sticker suit that stops people is the dichotomy on parade. Most nut jobs on the street who are wearing a ridiculous get up like this only display their own point of view. It becomes clear to any onlooker, “This guy is just going to shove his idea of the world down my throat and I don’t need it.” That wasn’t going to work for me,

I wanted the bumper-sticker suit to mirror the debate we’re having in our country. The suit is an invitation of sorts to anybody who wants to have a conversation. That’s why I went out of my way to represent as many points of view as possible with the bumper stickers and emblems. You can see people trying to reconcile why there is a Jesus Fish positioned next to the Darwin Fish, a “Real Men Pray” sat next to “Free Jesus”, “Where’s My Church, Dude?” contrasted with “Vote Pro-Life” and so on. All the assumptions go out the window, “Hey, whose side is this guy on anyway?” I hoped this playful complication would signal to people that I was “open”, I was willing to listen and my main priority was to jump-start a dialogue in this country.

In a way, the Bumper-sticker Man suit is my twist on the time-honored tradition of the believer on the street corner with the sandwich board. You know the classics, “Repent or Burn”, “Repent Sinner”, “Jesus Loves You” and even the more friendly “John 3:16”, but somehow, over the years this one-way, one-sided approach failed to foster engagement and mostly just alienated the folks they most wanted to connect with. That approach always seemed like: “I have the answer and you don’t. Come over here and I’ll tell you why you’re screwed up.” Even if we do have the answer do you think anyone is going to listen to that?

And as a believer, a Christian, a guy who loves Jesus, these street preachers would offend me because they assumed I needed them to lecture me, to save me. They never asked where I was coming from and it didn’t seem as though they cared. Well, I want to know why the Gospel of Love is dividing America and if I’m going to find the answer I’ll have to do more listening than talking … but first I have to get people to talk.

Excerpt from “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” by Dan Merchant
© 2008 Dan Merchant, Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers

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