So this is my last Callings blog...to quote Monty Python, "And there was much rejoicing." All I have to say about this last week's reading is:
Oh. My. Goodness.
That is what I have to say about this weeks' reading. The author, George Fox, was certifiably nuts. Honestly. This guy was eventually the founder of the Quaker religion, and believed that only "the Inner Light of the living Christ provides a reliable guide to religious truth" (294). Basically, he believed that he received visions directly from God, which is quite obvious from his journal.
Reading the excerpt from his journal was a bit like what I imagine being on an LSD trip would be like. I mean, he's hearing voices and seeing blood pouring out in the streets of Lichfield. The latter example was the weirdest part of the whole thing. I mean, Fox had been in jail for a while for his beliefs, and from what I've heard, medieval prisons were not the best place to spend a few years of your life. So basically, once he gets out of jail, sees the steeples of the churches in Lichfield and suddenly feels God calling him there. So he goes there, and is compelled by God to give his shoes to some shepherds outside of the city even though it's winter. Fox then basically runs through the streets of Lichfield crying "WOE TO THE BLOODY CITY OF LICHFIELD!" (that's a direct quote from p. 299, by the way). The town people are basically looking at him like he's a few fries short of a happy meal, and asking him where his shoes are. Fox then leaves the city, goes back to the shepherds, gives them some money and - this is the kicker - he takes his shoes back. I mean seriously, what kind of guy would do that? Wouldn't he trust the Lord to provide for him? Those poor shepherds probably needed the shoes more than he did. But still...there is absolutely no explaination as to why he did this. We aren't given any sort of history as to why he felt like running through the streets of Lichfield yelling (literally) bloody murder. Like I said earlier...he might have been just a little bit high on something or other...
Ok, I get that religious freedom wasn't really England's deal at the time. I get it, really I do. I mean, I agree with Fox that the Church isn't a building full of white, middle class men - it's everybody, all believers. But still...if I had seen Fox, I would have written him off as a loony. Honestly, he might have liked the religious freedom in America. I mean, at first he would have possibly loved the fact that one can worshiped however one wanted to; however, he probably would have started trying to convert everyone else as well, and I don't think people would like that very much. Instead of being one of the sole dissenters in religiously pressing government, he would have been one single voice, lost in a sea of opposing religious views. Perhaps that's why it's a bit hard to "convert" people in America today; every single religious group is shouting a slightly different message. Today's post-modern culture also has something to do with it, I think. Instead of proclaiming Jesus Christ as THE ONLY way to salvation, it most often comes across as Jesus is a way to get to salvation; if He's not your style, there are plenty of other ways to get there that might suit your fancy. Of course, that's all a bunch of nonsense, but it's what's happening, whether we like it or not. American's seem to go at religion like Old Country Buffet; they simply pick and choose which pieces of which religion they like. Which is another reason why the message of Christianity is so hard to successfully "market" in today's society. Which is kind of sad. Everyone is afraid of offending somebody else, even though we're in a Burger King "Have it your way" kind of culture. But really, Christians shouldn't be afraid to offend. After all...Jesus wasn't afraid to offend people with the truth.