Portland’s alternative weekly ran a feature story on Evangelicals this week. Its slant was “They’re here, they’re having an effect, and we’d better get to know them.”
The writer, Zach Dundas, came across like an anthropologist studying a strange and foreign race, but at least he accepted them as being of the same species as himself. (This is not entirely usual among practitioners of the “a secularist introduces the evangelicals” genre.) By and large, it was a good and fair piece of writing. The writer didn’t claim to be exhaustive; he acknowledged the diversity within the Evangelical community and within the Christian community at large. He didn’t demonize or marginalize or criticize or harmonize (sorry, I got to channeling Bob Dylan for a second). Anyway, he treated it as a foreign culture, which it is for many people, but as a culture worth considering. He kept the snark level to a minimum.
He even started with a definition of Evangelicalism — a good, if difficult place to start in such an effort. He failed to distinguish among Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and “born-agains,” but I don’t want to be like the guy in the Gary Larson cartoon who looks out at his dog, pushing the lawnmower in crazy lines around the grass, and shouts, “Bad dog, Rex! You call that mowing the lawn?”