On the flight back from
I learned that he was on his way back from
Religion is not a chitchat topic for a plane conversation, but you don’t learn much from chitchat topics. I asked what personal philosophy drove his missionary work. He immediately responded that he wanted to help share the keys to Christ and salvation with people. He followed that by saying, “that life with Christ is like such a beautiful thing and like it is based in so much love that like it only seems right to share that with people, and like give them a chance to experience it.”
I always assume that white boys that look like Cooper are super privileged and equally sheltered. Their worldliness, which is sometimes extensive, appears to be undone by the sense of superiority that they exude. They might go into
In my mind I was careful not to dismiss the fundamental goodness of what Cooper spent his summer doing – helping. It was obvious to me and he said as much, that his ability to do all this Christian good work was based on his parents’ ability to pay for him to travel all around the globe to do it. Despite that, what he chose to do with the resources available to him was significant. It bothered me though, that he was so steadfast in his belief that his experience of the righteousness of Christ was something that he felt compelled to share with poor people. In spiritual terms, what did he really have to offer? If these poor people accept Christ the way he had, that they would experience the righteousness of Christ the way he does? I wondered if it is possible for him to decouple the component of his identity that is privilege from the component that is faith? His faith was born in subdivision safety where all his needs were met and the righteousness of Christ’s love, if not its bounty, may have been fairly easy to focus on. Pastors are quick to say that Christ’s faith was not born while lounging by the side of a pool, but while nailed to a cross between two thieves.
I found the confluence of class and faith confusing. I also realized that not only was I bothered by Cooper’s professed evangelical righteousness, it made me angry. That triggered the need for me to reflect on the relationship between faith and privilege in me. Cooper left me with that personal challenge. He also left me wondering if Jesus’ word would be the Word if he had grown up in a subdivision?