Kevin Roose strikes me as the kind of guy Jesus would be friends with.
In his fascinating book The Unlikely Disciple, Roose tells the story of living undercover as an evangelical for a semester at Liberty University. He describes with humor and compassion what it was like for an Ivy Leaguer to pretend to be a product of the evangelical subculture.
Oh the evangelical subculture! Do we really talk like that? Are we really concerned about those things? Are those really the arguments we are having?
Roose holds a mirror up to what we really look like. And I've got to admit - I cringed. I cringed at our thoughtless cliches that we substitute for really wrestling with problems. I cringed at our pat answers. I cringed at our hero worship.
More than that, though, I cringed at how we tolerate some sins while pouncing on others. The students at Liberty are probably a good labratory for understanding how evangelicals in general look at the world. And it's obvious that in the evangelical mind not all sins are created equal.
Why is homosexuality wrong but homophobia is ok?
Why is masturbation wrong but being judgmental is ok?
Why is evolution wrong but being mean is ok?
Roose's findings confirm what many of us have sensed for a long time, that the evangelical approach to both life and politics is too shallow. Followers of Jesus who care only about abortion and gay marriage are missing a big picture that includes things like the environment and poverty. Likewise, personal piety includes more than sexuality; it also impacts interpersonal relationship and and attitudes.
Roose is far kinder to evangelicalism than it deserves, and he's far kinder than some of us in the emergent conversation have been. And that is the charm of his story. He's fair, honest, and kind. He disagrees without being obnoxious. And he seeks to understand without assuming the stereotypes are true.
That reminds me of Jesus, which is why I think Kevin and Jesus would get along so well.