Monday, January 15, 2007

A Mission of Understanding -

A Mission of Understanding -
"Danny Leydorf's world was about to be turned upside down, and he couldn't wait.

The extroverted teenager had shined at the mostly evangelical Annapolis Area Christian School since kindergarten, but now he wanted to test his faith in a more diverse world. With hopes of becoming a lawyer or politician, he badly wanted to understand people who didn't think like him.

"I feel like I exist to be interacting," the lanky, towheaded 19-year-old said eagerly one day last summer, shortly after his graduation, "and part of that is just getting out there."

So he'd deliberately picked a large, secular college: the University of Maryland. But the week before he was to leave, the wider world dealt him a blow.

"I hate evangelical Christians," read the profile of his roommate-to-be, who had seemed so perfect on the phone. He loved politics and "The Simpsons," like Leydorf, and they even had the same views about how to set up the room. Could it still work? ..."

Here is an informative, fairly well written (and a bit rambling in spots), article on how a young man went from a private Christian school to a state university. He had deliberately sought out opportunities to engage with people whose world views differed from his own, including an internship with Charles Schumer (D New York), whose politics had little in common with his own. This was while he was still in high school. In college, he sought out public forums and debates to learn what people of different backgrounds thought.

Much of this article goes into the background of the evangelical movement, and the different ways in which believers approach engagement with the world around them. The author of this article, Michelle Boorstein, seems to have done her homework, correctly pointing out that the American evangelical movement began as a response to the separatism advocated by American fundamentalists in the 20th century, This movement, known as neo-evangelicalism, is associated with such people and institutions as Billy Graham, Christianity Today magazine, and Wheaton College.

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