Now and then, someone will ask me “what kind of Christian” I am. I never used to know how to respond.
I would ramble on about how I’m sort of a theological moderate, though it’s not that helpful to think of us Christians as existing on a linear continuum, and I’m less focused than some of the Christians I grew up with on individual salvation, not that I think it doesn’t matter, and I’m wary of efforts to convert people of other faiths, which isn’t to say that I don’t value evangelism or the uniqueness of Christ... By this point the person typically lost interest in my endless run-on sentence of negative definition and preemptive defensiveness. I was left wishing I’d just said, “Lutheran.”
Then came the 2008 election and the Matthew 25 Network.
So it turns out that losing is good for you after all. According to social scientists who study these things, all those participation trophies kids receive for just showing up are not inspiring them to succeed. Instead, the ceaseless praise only protects kids from failure—so that once it inevitably appears, they are so demoralized that the next time it comes close they choose cheating rather than risk failing again.
The gospel has always understood the critical importance of failure in the path to true life.
The lectionary texts tell us that Advent is a time to look forward to Christ’s second coming rather than back to his first. Yet most churches prefer Christmas pageants to second coming pageants. Given all the doom and gloom that accompanies apocalypse, they may be concerned about scaring the kids.