Raised to Fight
What a misguided belief. What a harmful practice.
It is heartening to know that I wasn't alone in this kind of training, and yet disheartening to know that all the way across the country, and probably everywhere in between, this beat-them-into-submission style of evangelism was, and probably still is, being taught.
Alisa, as I alluded to before, could not be mistaken for a person who has this in her past. Today, she is humble and sweet and, though I've heard and read her argue to great effect, there's not a mean bone in her body.
But, I worry about myself. I worry often that the combative stance I was taught—and, let's face it, some of it is just in my fighting Irish genes—has stayed with me today. Shortly after college, I returned to campus to hear a speaker, a former radical Muslim Palestinian turned Christian, give his testimony. The audience expected to meet a repentant, peace-loving man, but what we found was a man who redirected the hatred he grew up feeling toward Israelis, back at his own people. In short, he'd experienced an ideological conversion, but his heart was still the same.
I think about him often and hope I'm not like him. I don't ever worry about Alisa, though. Most readers won't have the chance to meet her, but take my word for it, the militant little girl who used a goat costume contest as an opportunity for political controversy has been completely replaced by the person who can look back at that time with a bit of humor and a tinge of regret, but, most of all, with the ability to see that her story provides an opportunity for commiseration, as well as a chance to realize valuable lessons.
For more conversation on Raised Right—and to read an excerpt and author interview—visit the Patheos Book Club.
Jonathan D. Fitzgerald is the managing editor of Patrolmag.com, and writes on the various manifestations of Christianity in culture. Follow him on Twitter or at his website, www.jonathandfitzgerald.com.