Guest / Limited Access /

I'm an extremist by nature: a big-wave surfer and habitual entrepreneur who wrote a book a couple of years ago about adventurous faith. I started writing about radicalism because I thought I was part of the movement. But then I started looking for radicals.

I wanted to connect with and learn from others on the extreme. On business trips, I would take extra time to explore the cities' countercultural corners. I posted queries on edgy Christian websites like TheOoze.com and emergent blogs. Some said the Amish were the best example. Some mentioned Rob Bell, Shane Claiborne, and Bono. Some mentioned their pastor or youth leader.

I began randomly interviewing strangers. Pity those like the woman in her mid-50s who sat on an airplane next to me between Portland and Denver. "What do you think about Christian radicals?" I asked her.

She was not a fan. Modern radical Christians, she complained, have hijacked their faith traditions and changed the original intents. She mentioned people who picket abortion clinics as the perfect example. "They don't seem very smart to me, because they don't understand the teaching of their own faith. They shove it down people's throats."

"Those people," she concluded, "are on the fringe to me." And she had no respect for anyone who was on the fringe.

Before returning to her Sudoku game, she paused thoughtfully, removed her glasses, and leaned over to say, "Actually, the anti-war protesters of the Vietnam era were a good kind of radical."

So for this random sample of one, carrying signs and marching can make you a radical. But it depends on where you are marching and what's on your sign. Radicalism is somewhat of a moving target, it seems.

Among the Pamphleteers

So maybe seat 24C wasn't the place to look. I ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedSarah Young Still Hears Jesus Calling
Subscriber Access Only
Sarah Young Still Hears Jesus Calling
Not since “My Utmost for His Highest” has a daily devotional enraptured the English-speaking world, from cynical intellectuals to sweet grandmas, across the theological spectrum. How Young might change how we think about prayer.
TrendingChristianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Christianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
Editor's PickJesus and 'Jingle Bell Rock'
Jesus and 'Jingle Bell Rock'
I’ve learned that there’s no dividing line between ‘American Christmas’ and ‘Christian Christmas.’
Comments
Christianity Today
Searching for Radical Faith
hide thisFebruary February

In the Magazine

February 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.