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Julie,This is just a reaction to part of your column and I hope to absorb and reflect better on all of it. But this spoke to me first.You really need to go to some more churches to expand your horizons--those imaginary scenarios about church services just don't seem that absurd to me. I'm sure that not only UU churches but plenty of UCC, liberal Methodist, Episcopalians, etc. could have scenes not far from that (ok, maybe not the screaming at the Episcopalians.)My point, I guess, is that you are letting someone take the name Christian away from you (or if not from you-- cause maybe you don't want it anymore?--from some of the rest of us.) Hard not to do--my kids and I struggle a lot with what to call the particular type of 'Christian' that has preempted the name withot just saying 'Christian' and ceding the name to them. Gotta run.Rebecca
I'm glad to hear that those imaginary scenarios seem like they'd fit at the churches you attend or have attended. I'm glad!And I totally agree about not ceding the name Christian to them. I suppose I need to be more specific, perhaps?Dave on pomoxian is always talking about not letting others define Christianity... we all have a say. That's why I like liberal theologians who just keep reworking what it means to be Christian because they aren't afraid to!I have attended a UU church, Episcopalian, and liberal Presbyterian. But probably not long enough. :)Julie
Correction: ceding the name Christian to the orthodox or conservative voices.
This bugged me all day so I came back to comment on my comment. I was sorry to reread my post and find it sounded supercilious and superior in a way I really didn't mean it and I apologize for that. I was trying (and failing) to convey the gulf in our experiences, a gulf that continues to astonish me when it shouldn't. Instead, I came off with a variation of "oh, you're just so inexperienced." You certainly don't deserve THAT particular charge!Rebecca
When I saw "Mission Impossible" in your headline, I was excited because I thought you were going to weigh in on the theological signficance of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes newborn baby but of course I am disappointed but I figure you can get to that hot topic next week before we move on to whatever is next to come down the pop culture pipeline...But anyway, I only have time for a quick reply here and the angle I want to pursue here is this idea of a Christianity that is not preoccupied with fixing people. Especially the idea of relinquishing the practice of laying next-to-impossible demands on its followers... allow that and a lot of Christians would probably feel like the rug got pulled out from under them... "What is religion supposed to be about anyway?" if guilt and external control and the pursuit of unattainable perfection was left out of the picture.I like what you are saying here and I think it fits in with that "moxie" stance that you celebrated in your earlier post here - "let's ask all the questions openly that we too often suppress and lose along the way." I'm personally at a point where I am just getting so impatient with what seem like dumb, pointless manipulations and traditions-for-tradition's sake that are part of the daily stock in trade in so many churches and Christian circles. I can let people live their lives but I just don't want to have much to do with it. I just want to be wise and sensible and enjoy the life I'm living.A song by a group called Tranquility Bass comes to mind: "We All Want to Be Free" - the lyric goes, "We all want to be free... we all want to be free... there's always someone in the crowd who just won't let us be..." Simple words but they speak for me and I dig the song. I don't like the thought that Christians are usually seen as the people who "just won't let us be."
Rebecca, no worries! Your comment is utterly valid. In fact, it gives me hope. I need to get bpast this sense that evangelicalism is the biggest form of Christianity to contend with. It's not, but they sure act like they are. :)Dave, I did exploit the current Mission Impossible mania in my title, so you got that right. :) I heard Bill Maher joke about the baby last night and said that Katie did use drugs - an epidural... during conception. Ouch! :)You made some astonishing points in your "short" comment. I am thinking all the time about uncertainty, inconsistency, randomness, chance, serendipity, grace, transformation, loss, hope.... all those things that make and break a life. I know it's the effects of steeping in a postmodern tea for the last seven years... but I also feel like seeing complxiety mirrors reality. Seeing things as clear and defined does not. You said: "I'm personally at a point where I am just getting so impatient with what seem like dumb, pointless manipulations and traditions-for-tradition's sake that are part of the daily stock in trade in so many churches and Christian circles."Yes, yes, yes! I hope to blog more about this later today... but wanted to agree with you so much. I am also much more sensitive to power that accrues to certain people naturally (white, male, for example) that adds mass to their opinions that they don't even perceive and the damage that does to those with less power.The song you quoted... so simple, yet so right.The way I've always thought about that sentiment is expressed in a song from the musical "The Wiz." Dorothy sings that she just wants to go home... to that place with love overflowing.I think we all long for a "home" that lets us be who we are in our limitedness as well as in our moments of greatness. Funny how no one would sing about church that way.Julie
"I would love to be in a church where the pastor asked the congregation on a Sunday morning: "How many of you stopped believing in God this week?" I'm going to have to use that some time! I am refreshed by such honesty. So many people want things packaged nicely with a bow on top and will do everything in their power to go on believing that's the way the world is. On another note, I did a sermon on lament in the fall; didn't get much of a response (I've not yet figured out how to get people past saying "nice sermon, pastor" and onto real dialogue) but I personally have struggled with expressions of our faith that have lost their ability to allow people a place for lament. I hope I provide space for that in my ministry.
Jim, I've been meaning to say that I would love to hear how a sermon in your church goes after you give people freedom or permission to admit doubt. You give me hope!Julie
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