Sep 232002
Authors: Sarah Laribee

Johnny Square is a soft-spoken man. Even with a microphone echoing across the vast chasm of the Plaza, Square’s lilting voice is often lost beneath the wind that whips past his amplifier.

The microphone is not there solely to amplify his voice. Because Square is not about the soliloquy. He insists that when students ask him a question, they speak into the microphone as well, giving everyone a chance to engage in the dialogue. He patches in and out, starting a sentence at a high volume that fades into awkward silence by the time it reaches the outlaying rings of the gathered students. Technology is a bane.

But the students still gather. Some of them day after day, backpacks and Nalgene bottles strewn haphazardly around, skipping class after class to watch the rumble. I am sure Square never sets out with the goal of being a catalyst for conflict in mind, and it never really gets to that point. Johnny Square is not the typical campus evangelist.

One can mark the seasons by on-campus evangelism. If Johnny Square, the senior pastor at Iasis Christ Fellowship, is on the Plaza, and if smartly dressed Gideons are passing out green copies of the Bible, then Thanksgiving break can’t be more than eight or nine weeks away.

And once the spring thaw hits and it becomes relatively acceptable to break out the Birkenstocks again, then placards mysteriously appear in the designated Free-Speech Zone, proclaiming the religious truths of a hundred thousand different Christian sects. Tracking the doctrine can get to be an arduous task.

And, if it is fall, then the anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder is right around the corner as well, and we must all brace for the onslaught of hate that is so gleefully embraced by a small, yet heinously vocal and visible segment of the Christian subculture.

CSU has wisely informed the congregation of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas that they are not welcome to “celebrate” the death of Shepard at the CSU/Wyoming game on Oct.12 at Hughes Stadium. CSU has directed them instead to the free speech zone to carry out their wicked little vigil.

Hate always seems to breed a little more energy than love, though, and congregants will likely show up at Hughes anyway. Which will lead to a barrage of letters to the editor the following week about how closed-minded and hate-filled Christians are. And the turning of seasons are uninterrupted, exactly the way expect them to be.

I wish Johnny Square’s microphone worked a little better. Because while students gathered day after day to hear what the chaplain of the football team had to say, and while Johnny Square filled the Plaza with theological and religious dialogue for hours at a time, and while the pastor’s appearances prove to be some of the most interesting and truly entertaining events on campus all year, Johnny Square is apparently not newsworthy. Not only did Pastor Square not have even interior Collegian coverage, his multi-day appearance failed to elicit even a single letter to the editor.

The crazed will always have a louder voice than the sane. And the crazed will always get the video camera or the reporter’s pen or the pundit’s attention, because it is the crazed that we like to listen to, after all. Making fun of idiots is much more fun than thinking seriously about our inner life.

Pastor Square was asked a question on Wednesday about the state of Gandhi’s eternal soul. The question implied that Square was a judgmental person, and therefore a non-credible person, because “he believed Gandhi was going to burn in Hell.”

The quiet-voiced orator cocked his head to the side for a moment and retorted that he never said Gandhi was in Hell. He didn’t know where Gandhi was.

He went on to say that he was sorry for the way that some sects portray Christianity. Johnny Square was not about hate. He was not on the Plaza to condemn Gandhi, or Muslims, or homosexuals to Hell. He was about the love and grace of Jesus Christ. As it turns out, Johnny Square, windy microphone in tow, has too much work to do for all that condemnation.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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