Sunday, October 28, 2007

Taking my head out of the sand

Way back when my brilliant cousin started this blog, she invited me to participate, partly as supplementary estrogen, and partly because "someone who could write from a liberal christian perspective would be an interesting contrast to all us secular agnostics and atheists."

So some time near the beginning, by way of introducing myself, I posted a blog on what I mean by Christian. DeeK posted a response that at the time, hit me rather hard. Maybe he took my post as a clumsy attempt at evangelism, maybe he was just sharing his own perspective....I don't know, and I suppose I lacked the courage to ask. Writing or talking about my faith among people who don't share it is something that's still a challenge to me. I've never been anxious to proselytize (something that gave me tremendous guilt pangs in my fundy-lite phase) even when I wanted to be a missionary (maybe i shoulda joined the peace corps instead...) and it's hard to put into words what I wear under my skin.

The brand of Christianity I chose to identify with for much of my adolescence and young adulthood sometimes emphasized "The world hates us" so heavily over "God so loved the world" that any disagreement us youngsters encountered with non-believers was hailed as "persecution."

I thought I had grown beyond that.. or that I was "too smart" to have internalized it very much. My fantastic liberal-Catholic-raised parents taught me better. I could argue the left-hand side of Christian politics with people 20 years my senior. Hot-headed and underinformed, but unwavering in my conviction that Jesus was a liberal.
But when DeeK said:
"I guess this is way of saying I accept the need to embrace others as wonder attempts, but I would like to leave the Jesus part out of it."
I heard "Leave the Jesus part out of it." Imperative. command. period. end of sentence.
completely missed that he also said " I accept the need to embrace others as wonder attempts"
And I assumed he was saying "your superstitions are not welcome here you deluded irrational fool"

For that misperception, DeeK, I humbly ask you to forgive me.

Unlike my gutsier relatives, I've always been a "nice girl". And I was new around here. And I thought I had offended. And my feelings were hurt, so i took my toys and went home like a big baby, at least where spiritual/religious matters were concerned.

How hypocritical that I accused Jovial of the same thing in comments some months later. I hope you will also forgive me.

Trouble with that is, my belief in God-what I really believe, that thing i struggle to put words to, not the knee-jerk prejudices I'm trying to unlearn in light of Truth- inform every part of my thinking, and to avoid that is to strip all my convictions of their meaning. This is not to say that I can't participate in a discussion without regurgitating a bunch of random Scriptures - as a matter of fact I rarely quote the bible to make a point in a discussion with people who don't accept it as authoritative(partly because I'm no biblical scholar and partly because I detest seeing proof-texts quoted out of context).

But I've discovered I feel almost as out of place among secular progressives as I do among conservative Christians, and for the same reason. Because the "natural" assumption in both groups seems to be that progressivism and Christianity(or ANY monotheistic faith, really) are so diametrically opposed as to be mutually exclusive; that I must be insincere in one or the other; that I am, in short, a "liberal" in spite of my belief in Christ. I don't know how to respond to this sometimes.

So I've avoided the Red Queen's many attempts to call me out & get me to do my job. Please forgive me, for having kept my head down when the wingnuts brought out the big guns. And please continue to call me on the carpet when I fall silent.

Apparently sometimes God talks to Christians through snarky agnostics, reminding us that hanging onto power in this world was never part of the plan.

Meanwhile I rant to my mom about how the power-mad maniac brigade currently claiming to operate in Jesus' name looks more like the Antichrist than the Son of God. To which she invariably replies that I should write about it, talk about it, after all, I've been given a forum to do just that.....

Martin Niemöller, who learned firsthand the danger of being, literally, a "Good German", put it this way:

In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

I know, I said I don't usually throw bible verses around without context, but here's one I probably ought to remember:

James 4:17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

May my God forgive me for my complacency, and may the Spirit keep reminding me to do what I ought to do...

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