Thursday, March 30, 2006

Heretics for Jesus H. Christ

UPI Column

Subtitle: This heretic is mad as hell and isn't going to take it any more, or at least, she's going to dispassionately redefine her terms.

(I have to say that the "H." comes from my editor and I howled when he suggested it... Perfect.)

Btw, I have a new photo of me that is more recent than the previous one in my profile --from last weekend with my cyber friends. Thanks to Beth for her mad photo skills.

Julie in Baton Rouge

And here's one with the mad photographer herself (she's such a fox!):

Beth and Julie


Ampersand said...

Rock on with your bad self!

I LOVE it. And I love your distinction between right belief and established belief. You hit the nail on the head right there.

Too often, trying to discourse with the orthodox is like trying to get into a game on the playground in elementary school. First, you have to get noticed. Then, you have to get invited. And finally, you have to play by their rules.

That frustrates me! Can you tell?

Now, I'm off to google heterodox :-).

Rick said...

I like the color and cut. Nice. :) (Hey, I'm married and have learned this stuff from my wife.) :)

Rick said...

Great article.

Funny, orthodox are those who usually eneded up killing those who disagreed or had a different view. I guess the orthodox had more power. "Hey, whatever happened to Bob?" "Oh we killed him, he was a heretic."

Always interesting to see who controls the conversation.

julieunplugged said...

I actually had a line in the first draft about killing the heretics. It is interesting to see who controls the conversation. One of the fun aspects of studying theology is reading original writings of some of the church fathers. They make Rush Limbaugh look tolerant and Michael Savage pluralistic!

Polemics on steroids.

Rachel said...

May I speak for myself? As the one who uttered the "h" word, I need to say I love you, Julie. But if you have any confidence in my ability to know for myself what is in my heart or what drives me, please believe that for me, no power game is afoot and no marginalization of the other perspective is desired. Disagreement is not the same as marginalization, even though I can see that the feelings it brings up might be similar.

julieunplugged said...

Rachel! It's so good to see you here. I absolutely know that no marginalization or power game was intended by you toward me. For those who don't know Rachel, she's one of my longest term online friends and is the N.T. Wright to my Marcus Borg in many theological discussions. :)

What was interesting to me as I got ready to write this week's column was reflecting on the power of language and how the word "heretic" (the "h" word as you called it) does have a certain power that I suddenly realized I wanted to explore and re-examine. Its power is in how it works in my own psyche... how it puts me on the defensive. So I wanted to rethink how I use the term too.

I hope I expressed well enough in the piece that it was not you or my Catholic friends who were in any way unkind to me, but rather that the terms themselves (heretic, heterodox) deserve to be re-examined for the power they have held historically.

Love you too, for sure.


Rachel said...

It's okay. I'm hoping for a day when words will have totally lost their power to harm.


julieunplugged said...

Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

Just a few comments, my friend-

Postmodern interpretation of the historical Jesus is only one interpretation. The data supports other interpretations, including the orthodox ones. Stripping the issues of the supernatural take doesn't level the playing field, it stacks it against orthodox believers. Anything we say will be suspect because it is "faith" and not "fact."

I am willing to allow people to practice their faith how they wish, but why try to co-opt the established churches to do it? Being in church doesn't make a person a Christian, but neither does sticking a label on saying, "Christian." Being a Christian needs to mean something, and for two thousand years there have been a core of beliefs that have served. I believe that God himself preserved the truths of the faith, not power-hungry men. What comes to us comes to us from God.

Labels are tough, they can hurt and I hate that. Yet I know there is in my faith, and in my faith tradition some absolutes that can't be yielded. Those of us who believe that also face misunderstanding, and can be reviled as bigoted and narrow-minded. So be it. Some issues can't be compromised. Some things are so sacred there is no compromise possible.

Love you ;-),

julieunplugged said...

Hi Carrie.

I'm not wanting to strip anyone of the faith descriptions that have meaning for them. Orthodox beliefs have the benefit of history and tradition as adding credibility to them. I want to see the word "heretic" stripped from the lexicon of descriptors for those of faith who don't hold to orthodox views.

I don't even mind vigorous disagreement. But I would prefer a value free term. For instance, Presbyterian and Catholic don't immediately imply anything negative about either of those denominations. Yet they disagree passionately over many doctrinal issues.

The use of the words "orthodox" and "heretic" however do imply that one is "more right" and the other is "more wrong" and even dangerous.

I have no problem with you or anyone else contending for the view of faith you hold sacred. Healthy disagreement is the staple food of theological debate. But casting one set of beliefs as "heretical" rather than simply describing them as "historical-critical" or "postmodern" adds a value judgment.

That's all I meant by postmodernism in that article - I was using the postmodernist practice of linguistic deconstruction to address the underlying message of the labels themselves (not to contend for one view of faith over another).


Anonymous said...

Okay- I got distracted from your intent. I reread the article and I see what you are saying a little more clearly.

Being called a heretic would certainly feel ugly. Hmmm. Vocabulary is tough. There is so much passion in religious beliefs. But, you're right, we do need a less negatively charged word for those who are lass than "traditional" in their theology. Thanks for clarifying.


P.S. I got another good picture of you and Beth. I hope to upload them to our website soon.