Don’t let the Downer bog you down (as it did me, this week)….hang in there for the Upper. (The downers are not the persons, or posts….just my energy about the content.)
I write with my version of “righteous indignation” in weak moments. It is a cultural habit in the use of words. My version is maybe, “Gee, Ain’t It Awful” that church people are so messed up (like I have anything better to offer!!!). I feel lousy when I do this, and I’m not sure why. Because pointing out what IS there is useful to decide how to do better. Maybe I’m coming from that bad energy – which includes trying to control (even if just within myself), fear that I have hurt feelings of good people (good citizen or codependent?), that I have judged not so good people (see what I mean?), that I haven’t been good enough (kind, wise, balanced), that I haven’t thought through all the angles and variables to be truly fair….that I haven’t been perfect enough. That I need to give it a REST. Maybe it is being over-analytical, eh?!!
MAYBE IT IS BECAUSE IT DOESN’T COME FROM A STANCE OF PEACE – WITH MYSELF AND OTHERS. Maybe because it lacks respect, true honor of others, who are my kinsmen in this life.
A conversation: One of my nephews (30-something) is a dear, and a Christian of the sort that makes me low-level crazy. I asked him lightly for his take on my experience at the large church last week. His response: 1) nothing wrong with trips like that…young people do need to be able to defend their views against secular views about the flood; 2) young people today have no respect; 3) people have lost their patriotism. The stereotypical Christian Three-pack: Popular Topic (creationism, flood, homosexuality, Ten-commandments/prayer in schools, God Bless the U.S of A, how abused Christians are, etc. ), Young People Today, Patriotism. He was TOTALLY thinking in terms of the inbred church thinking in which he is immersed. Not an inkling of awareness that someone might be looking for answers to make their life worth living, not one fleeting thought that the whole purpose of that church, Jesus, had been entirely missing in our discussion.
A post: Then I read the post “The Hegemony of Religion” by Judy (Connecting Dots…to God: http://wp.me/p1xX5U-1m6) where she references CNNs iReport, “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” which has received around three quarters of a MILLION hits and over 9000 comments. I read the CNN post, the article, and some of comments. I share some of the iReport author’s questions, but not all, and have some different ones. But the comments! If you are Christians wondering how you sound to others, read the comments while thinking, “How would this sound to me if I was new in the pew?” – and “How would this sound to me if I was hurting and seeking God/Jesus?” – and “What is the goal of this statement?” Starting at the beginning (page 375 to date), I personally find goodthinker and DRD to be direct and kind Christians, but KCRep and CKThompson to be arrogant and snippy asses, interested in rebuttal not redemption. Throughout the comments: many generalizations about how THEY think, from those who don’t know. So many assumptions and snippy answers. And how the kind, respectful comments shine. One commenter, paraphrased, essentially says that he never heard of the harsh view of God (apparently) held by the author. Key: Where DID the author get her view of God?????
After reading the comments, I felt like crap. One of those times curled up in the fetal position thinking about the button. It is so SAD! In the name of GOD. So many people at odds, in anger and frustration and fear and ego! So much need in the world. Truth so obscure. So helpless to do any good. And I just wrote about it again.
A blog: I am CONTINUALLY reading, from start to finish, the 365 daily posts by MyBroom http://wp.me/p23M9l-6y. I am BEGINNING to get it. He has a different view, purified in his own years of soul-searching and Christ-seeking. I think he is saying things I need to hear. Such as:
I do know this much, I can’t talk christianese anymore and I can’t give pat answers where the very heart of God and the revelation of Christ is concerned. The world seems to be full of people who confidently rattle off about God, as if He is some divine concept to be speculated about. At last after so many years of being a Christian I am beginning to understand that “Christ is all and is in all” Col. 3:11.
He is so much more than the answer to my prayers, more than the object of my worship, even more than my Saviour and Lord. He is the substance of my being, the magnificent divine mystery which is Christ in me. He has linked Himself to me Spirit to spirit in a union beyond marriage as we know it on earth. (http://wp.me/p23M9l-6y)
You think? Can it be? Possibility that takes my breath away!
A book: The World’s Religions, by Huston Smith. In depth discussion of ..uh…the world’s religions…yeah. I skimmed and skipped to the last chapter, A Final Examination. The author pulls together common threads of many religions/faiths: He says that ethics-wise the Decalogue is pretty much the cross-cultural story (p. 387). That all identify basically three virtues: humility (“regard oneself in the company of others as one, but not more than one”), charity (regard one’s neighbor as one, as fully one as oneself), and veracity (sublime objectivity…to live authentically). Regarding vision, all religions include: 1) at-one-ment….we can’t see the whole picture, but things are more integrated than they seem; 2) the universe and God are better than they seem, perfect, and that we humans share in that; 3) we are born, live and die in mystery…that we can’t solve.
Now, some will choose to be angry at the following quotes. But if they get past that energy, I think there is a GREAT WORD to receive: WE – MUST – LISTEN. Quotes from pp 390 and 391:
Thomas Merton made this point by saying that God speaks to us in three places: in scripture, in our deepest selves, and in the voice of the stranger. We must have the graciousness to receive as well as to give, for there is no greater way to depersonalize another than to speak without also listening.
Said Jesus, blessed be his name, “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you.” Said Buddha, blessed be his name as well, “He who would, may reach the utmost height–but he must be eager to learn.” If we do not quote the other religions on these points, it is because their words would be redundant.
Sometimes what we hear is the same thing we have heard before, but spoken in different words, we suddenly understand. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and we understand what words fail to communicate. Salvation, holiness, respect, abuse. From my perspective: WE CAN NOT EXPLAIN ANYTHING TO ANOTHER WHILE WE DISRESPECT, REFUSE TO LISTEN, AND IGNORE THEIR PAIN.
WHO – WE – ARE…..speaks loudest of all.
That includes me – who has learned AGAIN that feeding the negative and drama doesn’t do me or anyone else any good. Yes, I’m irritated by churchianity, and appalled at the damage it can do! Yes, I’ve been hurt by believing the wrong things from the wrong people. BUT THAT IS NOT WHO – I – AM. And not the main point of my blog. And not where I want you to have to go with me post after post!
Attitude check made. Cool how that works isn’t it? Downer….to upper. (Now, if I can just learn to do that with a few less words…….).
I feel better now. I don’t know much. But I’m reminded that I am one….one with other ones. I can listen. And I’m hearing: The Law may have been nailed to the cross, and Christ’s work finished 2000 years ago, and, if so, all the arguments, agendas, analyzing, trying hard, prideful words, fear, mistrust, inadequacy and everything else is moot. Maybe, if that is the truth, we can REST in the REALITY, the PERSON. And from that/from HIM, we can respect, love, and listen some more. For as long as He takes!
James 1:19-20 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
and their lips promote instruction.
Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
1 Corinthians 2:2-5 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.