It is a generally accepted conception that no one enjoys or is keen on being misrepresented. Yet in the course of growing up and experiencing “life,” these misconceptions manifest.
Most would argue that the goal of education is to expose oneself to different ideas so that these misconceptions can be properly reconciled. Simple Google searches or keyword searches at Cal State Fullerton’s library can help with the exposure to gain better insight and assist in the reconstruction of these ideas and concepts.
But in a politicized age and a more and more polarized society, the rifts of misapprehension only widen.
This reporter had the opportunity to speak to a class regarding this column two weeks ago where he gave an account of a street preacher in the Quad.
In the article, he argued that the intention of the preacher should stand out more prominently than his fiery words because of his desperate attitude of getting his message out.
But what was brought up in the class was a slew of misconceptions students had about Christianity.
While it is important to note that the determination and thus the correction of these alleged misconceptions is no one’s prescribed duty, as mentioned before no one is keen on being misrepresented.
One student asked, “How can you pick and choose what to believe in the Bible?” With more time, it could have been explained that there is an entire academic profession called literary analysis and exegesis dedicated to analyzing, observing, interpreting and applying the text properly.
With any level of basic research, the student would have realized that this is the job (yes, in most cases paid) of theologians to determine.
Moreover, the nuances between sects of Christianity were also glossed over.
It seemed that “Christian,” “church” and “The Holy Bible” were only synonyms for the Westboro Baptist Church or other extremist groups thought to be hateful; a misconstruction to say the least.
Even without research or reading a book, God promises over and over again that a genuine, inquisitive, even doubtful and cynical heart can find out who He really is and who He promises to be and if He even exists.
It is written that God told the prophet Jeremiah while the Israelites were in exile in Babylon, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29.13).
The passage talks about the ancient Israelites returning to God and the Law of Moses as a way of deliverance out of captivity. God tells Jeremiah that the people of Israel will find their identity and deliverance when they seek Him out.
To us today, the same basic principle applies: God promises a response.
If people do their best to seek out the character of God, they will find Him for who He truly is: a healer, a counselor, a guide.
But it is easier to be cynical and bitter. For those who do not understand, it is a simpler, more convenient life to buy into the negative misconstructions that are fed to the public.
So we see shirts like “Jesus f****** Christ,” with all its visual grandeur as the embodiment of the misguided sense of acceptance and “tolerance.”
The details like salvation and joy from the appropriate representation of Jesus are largely ignored. Centuries of theological study and billions of people’s unfathomably deep experiences are also ignored on a whim.
The overarching question, it seems, is to ask why does this occur? The answer lies in a lazy place called comfort, where presuppositions are not challenged and growth stagnates.
No wonder that in this culture, and no doubt in the coming election, we will see rifts of misconception open up to new levels.