I don’t need a lesson in piety — but thanks

Campus Crusade for Christ recently held “Jesus Awareness Week,” a series of activities and speakers to, well, increase awareness of Jesus.

Although I appreciate the effort, I think we’re all quite aware of Jesus now. I, for one, am being made just a little too aware.

Andrew Ooms, an organizer of Jesus Awareness Week, said the group held events that were appropriate to different types of people at Northwestern, with the motto that they would ultimately “turn lost students into Christ-centered laborers.”

“I guess if it changes what (students) think about religion, then that’s our mission,” said Ooms, a McCormick sophomore.

The point of these shouldn’t be to convert students, though. It should be to educate them and to have them understand the benefits of a Christian life. When these groups specifically orient their goals around convincing others, it can only lead to a self-centered, antagonistic perspective that few will take seriously.

However, Campus Crusade isn’t solely responsible for these events. Jesus Awareness Week was only the latest in many efforts by many large student groups. Flash back to my freshman year, when — you guessed it — another series of activities and speakers was planned by 15 different groups under the term Veritas Forum. Its goal was “to open up topics on Christianity for folks who weren’t Christian” in the specific context of science and academic life, said Communication junior and Veritas organizer Natalie Hirt.

This was when my life got fun. Phone calls. E-mails. Instant messages from random screen names. Strangers busted into my dorm asking me to attend the events. They tried everything short of Jesus himself kicking my ass in a dark alley.

Kelly Monroe, founder of Veritas Forum, hoped the session would convey “truth not as an abstraction, but as a person.” Oh, is that what the truth is now? Twenty-one years on this Earth and all that time I thought “truth” was something else.

Never did these people bother to comprehend my agnosticism, much less consider it with any degree of credibility. The weeks preceding Veritas Forum represented, in short, the most significant and offensive ideological disrespect I have ever experienced.

For a while after the forum, I considered transferring from NU to someplace that would at least be more apathetic and uncaring about me, if not fully accepting. I found the entire scene here painfully myopic and hostile.

I question the motives of these events, pondering for whom they are really meant. Moreover, I wonder how they still continue unabated when students, hungry for some kind of valuable discussion, only get a bunch of preaching, time after time.

Evangelism can be a good thing when practiced properly. It promotes the reasoning behind belief and it results in a valuable, enriching discourse. But this can only take place if both sides respect the other’s position and attempt to understand their thinking without being forceful or shortsighted. In light of both recent and distant events, most Christian groups here have a very long way to go.