Monday, June 30, 2014

So, I Was Told I Sounded "Intolerant" the Other Day...

Hearing that is not a pleasant feeling, that's for sure.

What caused someone to accuse me of sounding intolerant?  The short version of the story is that a high school classmate asked his Facebook friends how he could discuss evolution and Creationism with a six-year-old.  I suggested talking about evolution as an attempt to explain the "how" of Creation while Genesis speaks to who created all things.  I also observed that an agreement to this understanding would remove much of the heat from the conversation.

Others who brought forth their own ideas, however, would not accept this suggestion.  Their suggestion was to compare Christianity to the popular idea of Santa Claus: something that kids eventually grow out of.  My suggestion clashed with their suggestion, so my suggestion needed to be discredited.  One of the participants who fell into this category suggested that my comments "sounded intolerant" and that she would never be forced to agree to these terms.

I could have responded to the three people opposing me and entered into a full-blown argument.  However, my friend's intention for the original post was to discover ways to communicate his own thoughts to a six-year-old, not start a religious argument.  With my friend not responding to the conversation, I decided to not participate in the conversation because it had already left my friend's original concern.

One of today's Supreme Court announcements has many people up in arms.  Some people are ecstatic while others are screaming mad.  Many have claimed or will claim that others are being "intolerant" of either their religious beliefs or their contraceptive choices.  (This will be the end of my comments on that topic.  Perhaps another blog post.)

"Tolerance" sounds like a good standard.  We do not have to agree, but we do not need to disassociate from others who do not share our opinions, correct?

But "tolerance" is not a good standard.  We can hate someone even as we "tolerate" their presence in the room.  We can wish all sorts of evil on someone even as we "tolerate" their opinions on Facebook and Twitter.  We can attack others and destroy reputations even as we "tolerate" what they say.

Rather than "tolerate" each other, how about we express our love for each other, including (perhaps especially) for those who do not share our opinions?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Asking a Better Question

My Facebook feed tends to show many people posting commentary and political opinions.  Some of these posts try to claim that God agrees with the person's political opinions.  I have seen conservatives claim that Jesus is a conservative.  I have seen liberals claim that Jesus is a liberal.

I have also seen people attempt to demonize those who disagree with them, one even going as far as trying to assign Satan to the other side of the political spectrum.

This tug-of-war, let's-claim-the-Lord-for-our-side way of debating politics bothers me quite a bit.  One reason for this is because a person attempting to debate politics with this claim reads the Bible with a conclusion in mind and tries to find scriptural justification for that conclusion.  This is a poor way of reading the Bible because it shuts out the Holy Spirit's voice.  One cannot hear the Holy Spirit through the Bible if one is looking for biblical support for one's politics.

The other reason that this way of debating politics bothers me is because it inverts our relationship with the Lord.   The Holy Spirit is calling us onto the Lord's side; we cannot call the Lord onto our side.  I would argue that attempting to call the Lord onto our political side actually puts our political opinions above our worship of the Lord.  Attempting to put the Lord onto our political side puts the Lord in the place of service to a political ideology.  Suddenly, our political ideology has become our idol, the true object of our worship.

The question is not, "Is God on our side?"  The question is, "Are we on God's side?"  Can we agree to focus on discerning where God is acting in the world and calling to us rather than argue whether God is on our side?  If we could do this in both word and deed, we would take a large step towards representing the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

Will you join me in discerning where God is acting in the world today and how the Lord may be calling us to participate in that action?


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What I Wish I Could Have Said...

...on April 17th, 2007.  As this woman wrestles with what has happened at her school, she tells us how we can help her and others during their grief process.  I believe that this is the key part:
In times like these we need to lean on each other. We need to look to God, and begin to grapple with how we are going to forgive. In light of what has happened I ask that you be sensitive, and know this is more than a simple policy adjustment. A person died at my school, and a person died at Reynolds high. Two young lives were lost for someone’s sport, and that to me is one of the most evil crimes that can be committed. To say something as simple as gun control could have stopped it has can cause incredible damage to a family that lost their son. There is no simple answer as to why this happened, and losing your son, or your friend, or your roommate, or a classmate is complex and cannot be tied up with a neat answer. There is no reason why this should have happened, and instead of searching for answers or trying to define the incredible pain that people are feeling we need to learn to just be in it. We need to feel the anger and feel the heartbreak so that we can forgive. We need to cry and mourn because a friend was taken, and now hundreds more in Oregon are going through the same thing. If you want this to never happen again, the best place to start is simply by mourning the life that was lost, and disregarding how it was taken. Remember Paul Lee, a young 19 year old boy who was full of life and had many more years he should have spent dancing. Do not waste your time remembering how he died.
On behalf of my friends at SPU, please join us in remembering our friend. During a time of utter pain and confusion, it is heartening to see the support and love spreading on campus. A stranger came into our home with the intent to harm, and although we are broken, we are united. We are not a community centered in hate, or in vengeance, but in Christ. We are healing, and through healing feeling anger and sorrow, but yet learning to forgive.
Do you know people who are grieving after a traumatic incident?  How can you re-present Christ to them as they grieve?

Monday, June 2, 2014

We are Free for...?

Kevin D. Williamson was recently reflecting on the Elliot Rogers attacks.  Among his many observations and comments, Williamson wrote this:

Modernity sets us free, but it does not offer any answer to the question, "Free to do what?"
Williamson observed that modernity sets us free from focusing solely on meeting our needs for food and shelter, which was the gathering point for many societies throughout history.  Modern technology has freed most people from needing to grow their own crops, hunt or raise their own meat, and build their own homes.  But what do we do with this freedom?

I believe that there is a similar dynamic within the Church.  Many Christians hold to the promise that Christ has freed them from the power of sin and death.  However, how many Christians have gone beyond this promise of freedom to ask what they are free for?  What does the gift of freedom mean for us during our lifetime?

While I have some thoughts on this, right now I turn the question over to you.  Given that we have freedom in Christ and through Christ, what are we freed for?  I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments and discuss the question with others.