By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
Skepticism, fear, and paranoia about things Christian is neither surprising nor always unjustified from people turned off or hurt by the judgmentalism often associated with Christians and Christianity ("Jesus Weekend," 3/5/08). A Teens Encountering Christ weekend will seem strange to many people from outside any religious tradition or experience. But for the thousands of youth and adults who have gone through this experience, lives are positively changed. People do find their spiritual center and will seek to change their life accordingly. This will seem strange and even a threat to those who have not experienced the love, forgiveness, and new life that comes from a real encounter with God. There are no secrets to TEC, but there are a few surprises along the way to experiencing Christ. I invite all your readers, especially those looking for spiritual answers, to check out www.mmltec.org to learn more. All are welcome!
Kent Claussen Gubrud
I know Matt Snyders's piece was intended to evoke a reaction, and I have a pretty good idea what the reaction is meant to be, but as a certified religious liberal bordering on atheist, I don't see what there is to get excited about. None of this hard sell is new or limited to Catholics. Show of hands: How many of us underwent similar seminars, conferences, or intensives committed to personal development, wealth, or recovery? And most of us have come through okay. When I was down and out, the folks who took me in were born-agains and Hare Krishnas and Orthodox Jews, and I've never thumped a Bible or worn a saffron robe (admittedly, I have danced a hora or two). Most of us are like Tom, we're just looking for something to help us get our head together, and goddess bless him if this turns out to be it. Sure, the message is intolerance with people who don't believe in the same God, but most of us still live in the world and eventually see through that. We end up with black friends or gay friends or Lutheran friends or Pentecostal friends, and little cracks appear in those assumptions we have about them and the next thing you know we're breaking bread together and the real business of what we should be doing with one another starts happening. Color me liking the article but not worked up.
Bob Bledsoe, commissioned Unitarian Universalist lay leader
Great article on the Christians and that creepy TEC thing they're trying on those kids. Really gutsy journalism. Now I'm looking forward to a brave exposé on some Jewish group that might be trying to reach their young people. Or better, infiltrate the Muslim community, then write a hard-hitting critical piece on them, with a big illustration of Muhammed on the cover.
I just finished reading Matt Snyders's article "Jesus Weekend" and was shocked and upset by the conclusion. As Tom crushed out his cigarette and his last remaining free thoughts I was reminded of my relocation in high school to a rural town in Wisconsin. Being the oddball new kid from a completely different lifestyle, I was first approached by the Bible-thumping crowd. As I sat at their lunch table, obviously out of place, I was encouraged to join their extracurricular groups and attend Bible study on Wednesday nights. I quickly grew into a different clique, but always noticed every new kid quickly ending up in the same situation. Some were assimilated, while others found friends. I am in no way religious, nor am I knocking on any person of any sect or creed. I have seen powerful positive changes in people due to a good dose of faith. However, it is groups like TEC that prey on the vulnerability of confused adolescents that frighten and appall me. In my opinion, schools need to do more to give children the kind of social acceptance and nurturing they find in cults like these. If educators did more to acknowledge the complete loneliness and awkwardness that comes with most of those in middle and high school, maybe these kids wouldn't be so quick to find answers at a quacked-out Jesus weekend.
I have a little knowledge about TEC weekends, as one of my daughters attended some years ago, but she didn't seem to attach as much drama to the weekend as you have in your writing. It may have been worth your while also to have a bit of understanding about the Catholic belief regarding the Eucharist. It's not uncommon at all; in fact, at every mass each person has the opportunity to receive the body and blood of Christ. Yes they have personal contact with Christ through the transformation of the host (Christ's body) and wine (Christ's blood). You do have talent in satire and it may bring about improvements in the TEC program, but on the other hand if that wasn't your intent you missed the mark.