The Common Good

A Crash Course In Q

Source: First Things
Date: May 9, 2014

Let’s keep Christianity weird.” So said the Southern Baptists’ official face to the nation, Russell Moore, as he closed an address on “prophetic minorities” before a thousand pastors, artists, social entrepreneurs, and assorted others at latest edition of Q. “What is Q?” you might ask like a local woman did to me as I snapped a picture of the ten-foot-tall reclaimed wood logo that stood outside a historic hall in the shadow of the Tennessee capitol building. Telling her dryly that it was a gathering of hipster Christians only seemed to add to her confusion. (I overheard someone else try to explain it as a bit like TED for evangelicals, which apparently left his native inquisitor as perplexed as mine.) Even the basics can be cloudy—every participant I asked assumed the “Q” stood for “question” but no one really knew for sure, and Q’s website holds no direct answer…

Q revels in being different but generally avoids direct confrontations. A standard Q tactic is to pair apparent opposites together and have them talk about something on which they can agree. Two years ago in Washington, Moore’s predecessor, the conservative Richard Land, was seated next to the left leaning Jim Wallis of Sojourners to tag-team immigration reform. The odd couples this year included the state’s Republican Governor Bill Haslam and Nashville’s Democrat Mayor Karl Dean who traded compliments and discussed public education. A Jewish Israeli mother who had lost a son and a Muslim Palestinian father who had lost a daughter shared the emotional stories that brought them together to work for peace. Theologians Matthew Levering and Timothy George summarized the unity achieved through 20 years of work by Evangelicals and Catholics Together, an effort begun by Gabe Lyons’s mentor Chuck Colson and First Things’s own Richard John Neuhaus.