Speedfaithing

You know about speed dating.  A man and a woman sit down together for 3-8 minutes (depending on how it’s set up) to see if they hit it off, then move to a new table for 3-8 minutes with someone else.  Now there is speedfaithing, in which people go to different tables to hear from advocates of different religions, who have 10 minutes to make their case.

After the jump, a news story about speedfaithing in Irvine, California, along with a challenge for you commenters. I’m struck more, though, about the last sentence of the story and what it reveals about what people, including this atheist, think religion is all about.  ” ‘I’m a good person,’” says the atheist representative, “‘ and I don’t necessarily need religion to show I’m a good person.’ “  OK.  Then there are the Christian tables for all of us bad persons; that is, sinners.

From UC Irvine students try ‘speedfaithing’ – latimes.com:

You have 10 minutes to sell someone on Catholicism, no more than that to distill the teachings of the Koran or the foundations of Mormonism.

It’s speed-dating for religion, and in a burst of faith-driven curiosity, dozens of students at UC Irvine raced from room to room Wednesday to listen to religious students (and two atheists) break down the core tenets of their belief system while on the clock. . . .

Before students began faith shopping, organizers offered a little advice: Don’t see it as an opportunity for debate. Just listen. And keep it short.

“You obviously can’t learn everything about a religion in 10 minutes and that’s not the point,” said Karina Hamilton, director of the Dalai Lama Scholars Program at UC Irvine.

Speedfaithing was developed by Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based nonprofit that promotes religious tolerance, as a way to help young people interact with members of diverse faiths. Since it began in 2005, similar events have been held at colleges across the country. . . .

During the first session, a handful of students gathered around Chase Davis, a fourth-year biology major, who was responsible for explaining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He covered the basics — the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and the importance of family. And he told his own story, of finding faith a couple of years ago.

“I didn’t have a perfect family,” he said. “I was a second-year biology major at UCI and I was just stressed beyond belief.”

Religion, he said, “really has brought me an amazing amount of peace.” . . .

In an adjacent room, one of the largest crowds gathered around two young atheists.

Albert, a second-year math major, said he was raised Catholic but started to doubt when he was in ninth or 10th grade.

“If I can’t really logically deduce that there’s a God, it’s going to be really hard for me to believe,” he told the group.

One student wanted to know whether his family accepted his atheism. Adam Milbes, a third-year economics major, asked, “Do you guys believe in any kind of accountability for your actions?”

“I personally just enjoy being a good person,” Albert responded.

The event was the first time Albert had spoken publicly about his atheism, he said later. He asked that his last name not be used because people he is close to don’t yet know that he is no longer a Catholic.

“Even going into this, I had a couple of doubts as to whether or not I was an atheist,” he said.

But as he prepared to explain his thinking to a group of strangers in 10 minutes, he said, “I settled my feet down and said, ‘I’m a good person and I don’t necessarily need religion to show I’m a good person.’ “

Now for Christians 10 minutes is plenty of time to proclaim the Gospel.  How would you present your specific church tradition–your theology–if you only had a few minutes?  Can you sum up Lutheranism or Calvinism or Pentecostalism or Catholicism or Orthodoxy or being a Baptist in a few sentences?  Granted that sound-byte theology is profoundly limited, try it in the comments just for fun.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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