Friday, October 15, 2010

Setting up Shop in the Marketplace of Academia #2

My last blog post featured a video of UCLA Lutheran Pastor, Mark Jasa, speaking with a student at a "Religion is for the Weak" table which he regularly sets up on the UCLA campus.

The following is an article I copied from the UCLA Radio website about Mark and his work on the UCLA campus:

"Religion Is For The Weak" Man

Have you seen the man out on Bruin Walk with the the signs posted on the three corners of his table that read "Religion Is For the Weak?" Meet Mark Jasa. Tune in to hear who and what he's all about without having to approach him, and you may find yourself wanting to be in the hot seat (the chair next to his).

Once raised Catholic and now a professed atheist, 1st-year Kevin Porea is one of hundreds of students on Bruin Walk that have actually stopped to look and think twice at the sign that screams  “Religion is for the weak.”

Kevin asks the man, "Religion is the weak, are you part of the religion?"

The response is from the man behind the sign.

Meet Mark Jasa, once a fellow Bruin in the 90s, he has been back on Bruin Walk fairly regularly in the last three years, coming out about 20-30 times a quarter. He comes out in the mid-afternoons, parks his table, lawn chair, and signs near Pauley Pavilion, ready and willing to defend his argument till sundown.
After talking to him for a few minutes, you’ll find that he is also the pastor of University of Lutheran Chapel.

But don’t let his pastoral title make you think that a healthy debate can’t come about. He may have once been in your shoes…

As an undergraduate studying Anthropology at UCLA back in the early 90s, Mark was agnostic, and didn't know if God existed.

But he was in a search for truth because his parents raised him to believe that truth is the most important thing. Also from CS Lewis, "If you search for truth you may find comfort, if you search for comfort you may find neither."  However, when Mark would ask his Christian peers why he should be a Christian, they didn't give him a good reason to believe.

Mark says, "Many Christians neither know how to deal with people who have questions nor are they doing anything to learn how to answer people who have questions. So most people on campus think there is a blind faith thing that you either have it or you don't."

Though convincing answers did not come from his Christian peers, Mark for many years have claimed to realize Jesus to be the true God.

Somehow through the question of one’s will and one’s intellect, Mark became convinced that Christianity wasn’t just a blind faith, put was backed with truth and historical validity.

Pastor Jasa believes that Jesus rising from the dead is the question of the intellect, because it can be proven through applying standard historical procedures.

But when it comes down to accepting Jesus, he believes it’s not just the question of the intellect, but also a question of the will."Unless you’re lost, unless you're weak, unelss you see that you're helpless, going to need the thing he claims to be giving to you. Jesus came to seek and save the lost."


So why does Pastor Jasa spend countless hours on his lawn chair ?

It’s mainly to challenge professed Christians in the way they should think about their faith,I think very few people know what the Good News is. A pastor here at UCLA came up to me and didn't know if he was saved. And I said, 'what is the Bible about?'"

He is also learning about the questions people are interested in. His audience include mostly Atheists, some Muslims, few Hindus, skeptical/athetistic Jews, and Christians.

Because religion is often shielded on educational grounds, subconsciously or not, it’s important to remember the freedom we each have in religion, and the opportunities we have in America to learn about the different perspectives that make this nation a nation for all nations. Stay tuned in to next week to hear a Muslim’s view on my new feature “Religion is for the Weak.”

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