Friday, May 26, 2006

The it A-Changing?

The furor over The Da Vinci Code, which shows no sign of dying down anytime soon, tells us a couple of very important things about the state of Christianity:

(A) People are really, really confused about what Christians are "supposed" to believe, and

(B) It is Christians' own fault.

Now, I happen to be a moderately liberal Christian. This means that I am cautious about redefining traditional doctrines, but that I am not opposed to it when I believe those doctrines would be better served -- that is to say, better understood and better followed -- if they were to be redefined. A friend of mine describes me, wrongly, as a "traditionalist." This implies that I have some special attachment to tradition for its own sake, which is just not true.

What I really am is open to God's ongoing revelation, which must mean, both, that I am open to what God has to say today, AND to what "He" has told past generations. Liberal Christians are very right when they say that "God is still speaking." But that means precisely that: that God is STILL speaking, not that "He" has only just now STARTED speaking. If God has, indeed, been speaking to us all along, then we are making a huge mistake if we get all full of ourselves and start thinking we need not listen to any voices from the past at all. If we ever truly grasped the totality of what such a balanced perspective means, the rift between liberals and conservatives would begin to be healed at last.

I have already said, many times, that I do not regard the fact that many on the Religious Right are shameful, disgraceful and thoroughly unlikable people as a sufficient reason to simply look at what that crowd does and then do something else. That is allowing people you don't like to control you, and it doesn't make an iota of sense to me.

Religious faith is supposed to be about our relationship with God, and is not about power-mad and delusional people who would twist God's very real revelation to serve their own, selfish interests.

I believe that the Religious Right has become a force for genuine evil in this country. Of course this doesn't mean that I disagree with them about everything. But it most certainly does mean that when they insist upon standing against all that I hold dear, I must stand against them.

The difference I have found between the Christian Left and the Christian Right is that the former still accepts and honors other viewpoints, whereas the latter has an almost Taliban-like, hysterical hatred and terror of other points of view. A good case in point is the fact that at my church, Faith Lutheran, when I voice my concerns about how our theology might be changing faster than it ought to, or in ways it ought not to, they actually listen to what I have to say. And I know I can trust that they will take my perspective, and that of others in the congregation who share my concerns, into serious consideration. If I were to voice objections in a Right-Wing church (even a gay one), I would be viciously driven out without one word of my objection having been heard.

Another good example of the greater degree of openness and respect I've found on the Christian Left is that a webzine for which I regularly write (and on whose board I am a member), Whosoever, even though the editorial opinion is somewhat to the Left of mine, always respectfully hears me whenever I speak -- and my essays and articles are always published without any attempt ever being made to water-down or strike out anything I say. Just try that in a publication of the Christian Right and boy, oh boy! -- you will see censorship in action. You will probably also see yourself "fired" from ever having another thing to do with them.

Remember what happened, on this very Blog, a few weeks ago? I posted an item making known my concerns at some of the things being taught in our adult education program at Faith Lutheran. Right away, I was attacked by a Right-Wing Christian. He told me, among other things, that I was "insane" (because, of course, his Bible tells him so).

As if it's somehow perfectly sane to spot one tiny portion of a post (as he admitted he had), without bothering to read the rest of it, and then flying into a Tazmanian-Devil-on-angel-dust tantrum about someone. Not only did he know very little about me, but as he didn't even bother to read the post upon which he was commenting (never mind the whole blog), he hadn't even taken the trouble to learn what little he might have.

This, my friends, is the Religious Right. I have tirelessly advocated continuing dialogue with them, even while they are actively trying to destroy the Constitution and ruin my life and so many others. And this is the sort of thing we get for it. I have come to realize that we probably won't ever get much else.

In advocating an amendment to the Constitution that would violate four existing amendments, they are attempting to destroy the United States. They are traitors to this country. In addition to this, they have betrayed God and twisted God's revelation in Jesus Christ into a tangle. No wonder so many people either think the Church is about nothing more than persecuting gay people and illegal immigrants or selling fitness shakes to fatten the coffers of televangelists who tell whoppers about how much weight they can bench-press.

And they're confused about The Da Vinci Code? Well, who'da thunk it? Leave it to the crowd who brought us the Left Behind series to straighten 'em out!

We must keep the lines of communication open with the Religious Right, because it is what Jesus wants us to do. But we must not allow them to drag us down into the mud with them. The same Jesus Who prayed for unity in the Church also gave us a very strong warning:

"Cast not your pearls before swine."


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