Last week I was with about a thousand people thronging through the streets of Bristol to raise a voice against the intransigence of the world's leaders on climate change. The outfits, noise, colour, tattoos, banners, and passionate rhetoric were infectious, and one wondered how observers could stand by and watch with such passive faces.
I was also in a church service recently. The relatively small number of people were notably inanimate. Meanwhile the worship team at the front were investing their creative expression with obvious heartfelt passion. The sounds, expressions, and body language of the team clearly displayed their inner feelings. They would surely have been deeply depressed if it were not for the fact that they were worshipping God. No amount of passivity around them could change that reality.
It's hard not to draw the parallels (or lack thereof) between church and public marches.
Some people invest heart and soul; the cadence of their voices communicates the depth of their feeling, their passion, the joyful highs, the depths of concerns - these are people who expose their inner self because they know truth.
Others seem to choose to suppress. I listen to some Christians speaking about Christ, and the passion is muted, the glories understated in their body and inflection, the distresses of lives and the world are discussed in even tones.
To actually engage the emotions that go with the thoughts is surely what it means to live totally.
Why then does the topic of Jesus seem to lead people to become emotionally suppressed? It doesn't happen with sport, it's not a factor at parties, and we never hold back our outbursts at perceived personal injustices. Perhaps it is an attempt to find a secure zone when confronted by a disturbing reality by trying to claim an objective wisdom that rises above those showing personal emotion?
I wonder if those who become seemingly introverted in the presence of Christian topics are actually scared to engage with the reality of the world around them (and perhaps those who adopt an extrovert expression are scared of the reality inside)?