Washington Examiner Credo: Mark Rodgers

Mark Rodgers, 48, is fighting what many would consider an impossible battle: Reforming politics and popular culture to promote what is good, beautiful and true. His Virginia consulting company, the Clapham Group, is named after an 18th century London community of Christians devoted to ending the slave trade and other injustices, such as child labor and animal cruelty -- issues that Rodgers continues to work on with his own clients. He spoke with The Washington Examiner about his work to make goodness fashionable, and a faith that sustains his constant struggle for what is right.Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?I am an evangelical Christian in the tradition of social reformers who put their faith into action. I value that my faith allows both a theological basis and a practical, day-to-day understanding of how to be "in the world, but not of the world." There's a dimension in which our faith deals with personal spirituality, but we're also called to pursue mercy and compassion, to confront injustice and to seek the common good.In your work, you look for ways for popular culture -- books, movies, etc. -- to promote "conversation with consequence." Is there anything out now that's especially good?The newest Chronicles of Narnia movie, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," is a good example. On the one hand, it's a great children's story, and beautiful in its craft. It's also good in the sense that the consequences of its consumption are redemptive. We are a better person for watching it. Finally, it is true in what it tells us of the world, and of our human nature. In one of the first scenes, the characters encounter human trafficking, and people are physically liberated from slavery. Later on, the character Eustice, a priggish brat, turns into a dragon due to his selfishness and arrogance. He comes to realize how brutish he is, and is liberated from his bondage by the lion, Aslan.All stories we encounter shape us to varying degrees, the key question is how? Are they stories that inspire us to be all God has created us to be? Do they evoke a higher calling and a sense of purpose?Has anyone or any event especially influenced your faith, or your path in life?I'll never forget having lunch in the Senate dining room with Fred Rogers -- Mr. Rogers of television. He mentioned Henri Nouwen as one of his favorite theologians. Nouwen passed away while pastoring a community of handicapped people. Fred told me that when he died, the community made Nouwen's coffin, and with the scraps they made crosses for his close friends. At this point, Fred reached into his pocket and pulled out a little worn cross that he carried with him wherever he went -- one of Nouwen's "coffin crosses." That's what framed Fred's worldview and his vocation. If you think about it, every time he looked at that camera and told children "you are special," he was speaking a truth that all people are made in God's image, and are loved by Him. That vocational integration was very meaningful to me.These last few days before Christmas often strike people as some of the most un-Christian of the year. How do we find the meaning amid the cultural extras that have little to do with faith?It's about creating the proper balance. I think being intentional to find immediate need is a way to resolve the tension. There's need year round for charities that deal with human suffering, but Christmas can be a time to focus on needs very close at hand -- small acts of kindness. That can mean inviting someone without a place to spend the holiday to your home, or leaving an anonymous gift card on the doorstep of a family that doesn't have the money to buy presents for their kids.At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?I believe in the radical concept of grace -- that it embodies the uniqueness of the God that I believe in. Grace was born on Christmas morning, and as a Christian, I think grace is what should guide and define us as we live in the world, but are not of the world.- Leah FabelRead more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/2010/12/credo-mark-rodgers#ixzz192kGlKLm

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