Monday, June 12, 2006

Peanut Butter, Meet Chocolate...

There's an increasing amount of energy coming from the more-progressive wing of Christianity. Though I frequently wish it were less reactionary (what we react most strongly against is, after all, what controls us), I nonetheless find it heartening. The Religious Right is the closest thing to an Antichrist the world has ever known. Godless secularism can offer us no better hope than can the Religious Right. Revulsion against wrong, moving in the right direction, is humanity's only hope.

It's all right to use our anger against the Falwell-Robertson-Dobson Right to blast us off of the launching-pad, but once we're in the air, we've got to fly for ourselves. We need to get past the "I'm-damn-mad-and-I'm-not-gonna-take-it-anymore" stage, in order to contribute something better.

At the threshold between adolescence and adulthood, most of us come to realize that simply rebelling won't cut it. We must figure out for ourselves not only what's wrong, but also what's right. Some people get stuck in a sort of perpetual rebellious adolescence. I'm sometimes afraid the Christian Left will suffer this fate.

Okay, so we know that the leaders and minions of the Religious Right are kooks and jerks. Got it. Can we move on now? We know that they have bad ideas, but do we really have better ones?

The pulpits of progressive churches are ringing with great ideas -- ideas whose time has come. As long as they don't screw it up by telling people how to vote, or let the Democratic Party hijack their integrity to satisfy their hunger for political power (a course that would render them no better than the Religious Right), they can help to inspire a new awakening in this nation. Social justice was one of the principal concerns of the Bible. We, as a people, cannot afford to let the Religious Right push it aside or trample it underfoot.

If the battle for the soul of Christianity is not won by those dedicated to social justice, a libertarian revival in politics will never happen. If the administration of social justice is left to the Religious Right, it will die a slow and horrible starvation death. We dare not entrust the care of those less fortunate to Christian conservatives, because they simply do not give a shit.

I'm going to say this once, and if I have to, I'll say it a thousand times more. The libertarian vision for this country will not succeed unless progressive Christianity succeeds.

Learn it. Live it. Let it sink in.

The libertarian vision for this country will not succeed unless progressive Christianity succeeds. Though the proponents of these two movements seldom seem to understand that, the fate of one is inextricably tied to that of the other.

The hardest task may be getting progressive Christians to realize that big government can never be their friend, and that the unfortunate will be cruelly cheated and exploited by any scheme for social justice that is entrusted to big government. And all the Religious Right can do is pour new fuel on the secularist, big-government liberal fire.

True social justice cannot come from big government. But libertarianism cannot succeed without true social justice. True social justice can come only out of the work of people of faith who are committed to it.

For those whose heads are still mired in the previous century, I would like to remind you of a TV commercial you may well remember and love:

"What's your chocolate doing in my peanut butter?!"

"Well, what's your peanut butter doing on my chocolate?!"

Thus was the public introduced to one of the smartest, and most enduring, ideas to come out of the Twentieth Century: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

We're living in a brand new century. The old, Left-versus-Right paradigm no longer accurately represents reality. We need to begin thinking in bold, new ways, and combining good ideas that complement each other, even if we aren't used to seeing them together. People who continue to cling to limited, Twentieth-Century notions are living in a dream world, and real life will pass them by.


At 8:24 PM, Blogger KP AND REE REE said...

hi, I'm a first time reader to your blog, can you shed light on what you mean by "progressive christianity?" I am also a christian who wants to promote social justice and peace. this blog is intersting.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Lori Heine said...

Well, Sarah, there's a major movement that has taken on the name "progressive Christianity." They believe the churches should follow the actual teachings of Jesus, placing their emphasis on His guidance, instead of running around obsessing over other people's morals and trying to control society. They support a radical concept of inclusion and empowerment for people (women, gays, people of color, the poor, etc.) who have traditionally been trampled on by the churches. They are dedicated to, as you say, promoting social justice and peace.

To the degree that this is what they are all about, I must say that I am with them. The only definition of a Christian that I believe is true is the one given by Jesus Himself. He said that His followers were those who did what He said to do. He did not say they had to believe in any special creed (none of which had even, at that time, been written yet).

Some people in the progressive Christian movement, in my opinion, are reacting too much out of anger against conservative Christians. They are like rebellious teenagers, forever mad at mommy and daddy, and they reject anything that conservative Christians believe. I think this is unhealthy. I would describe myself as "moderately liberal," because although I believe God wants us to keep on using our minds and questioning old traditions, that doesn't mean that we can't learn anything from those traditions.

Progressive Christians have a saying, "God is still speaking." I agree with that, but they would do well to remember that if God is STILL speaking, that means that "He" has been speaking all along. Therefore, we should keep in mind that tradition contains at least some grains of enduring truth.

Christians need to pray for peace in the Body of Christ. Both the Christian Right and the Christian Left have important contributions to make to the whole, but right now there's so much hostility between them that disunity is becoming an end in itself.

Progressive Christianity is a promising movement. I retain some skepticism because I think that resentment toward Right-Wing Christians warps some of the things its leaders say, but I still believe the Holy Spirit has raised it up to keep the Religious Right from destroying the Body of Christ. For me, this is the key question: will progressive Christianity make the Body of Christ healthier, or will these people go off and start their own religion?

I guess the answer is up to the people who dedicate themselves to the progressive Christian cause.


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