stress and controversy

April 28, 2010 at 9:20 pm 7 comments

I have been writing posts lately, just not posting them. And once a post sits for a little bit, it often describes thoughts or feelings I no longer have. And as such they seem disingenuous or perhaps fictional. So therefore no posts here lately.

We have been attending a New Church which is more progressive than the Old Church we previously attended. Actually, we attend a subgroup of the church which meets at a different time than the main body. This group is generally more progressive than the rest of the church, a bit postmodern and trending toward Emergent. The leaders are very comfortable with people of other faiths and beliefs, not needing things to fit into the black and white categories which is often the case in evangelicalism.

I’ve been commenting recently on a blog run by this group. They have broached some interesting and difficult (for the evangelical church) topics; gay marriage, evolution, and an article by a secular humanist critiquing Christianity. I have been very impressed by the intelligent and nuanced conversations, both from the more liberal and more conservative commentators.

Most of the commentators that is. Not surprisingly there are several who are more fundamentalist in their views. And unfortunately as is often the case, they tend to be the loudest voices, making statements that tend to close down dialog and conversation. Unnecessarily divisive in my opinion.

I think that most people, myself included, have a relatively limited capacity to deal with people with differing opinions. We are willing to be regularly nudged a little this way, or a little that way. But the larger shifts are often too difficult to handle unless absolutely necessary. I think that is why the adversarial commentators react the way they do. That, and maybe they have also been conditioned by the evangelical culture to think it is a good thing to “stand firm” in their opinions rather than listening to challenging ideas with an open mind. Yeah, I know, if you open your mind too much your brain will fall out…

I think the divisions in these discussions are generally better understood as studies in sociology than as a spiritual fight between light and darkness. The spiritual fight excuse gets brought out way too early, and is often brought up because the person is unwilling to contemplate their own faults in a conversation. It seems a cop out. Conversely, from the secular side, the mind of the Christian (or traditionalist) is too often called into question, with statements to the effect of, “Nobody with any sense would believe that superstitious religious nonsense.”

Having the same limited capacity, I unsubscribed from the blog and the comments yesterday. I try to remain open-minded, and be nudged a bit this way or that. But it is not worth it to me to go around feeling angry or stressed about what I read. And I know I am too quick to anger in those situations. In the end, we all tend to find fellowship with people who are more or less like-minded, and we all run the risk of feeling persecuted by those with differing opinions. But we don’t need to be completely locked into those mind sets either. And yes, I have peeked back at the blog since I first drafted this. A new post is up about Jennifer Knapp’s interview with Larry King, how exciting!

You can read a transcript of Jennifer Knapp’s interview, or watch the video if interested.

…and video part two,
part three,
part four

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Entry filed under: Christianity, church, conservatism, evangelicalism. Tags: , , , , .

happy passover what matters more

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lorena  |  April 28, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    It must be nice to have the chance to still hang out with old friends. I kind of envy you.

    Thank you for the link to the JN interview. I missed it, so this is my chance.

  • 2. Boz  |  April 28, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I feel the same way in regards to dialogue!

    If a position is near, but not identical to mine, it is interesting to read and discuss and discover if I am wrong.

    If a position is very far away from mine, I cannot stand to read it, it repulses me, because it is too damn retarded.

  • 3. Christiana  |  April 29, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Speaking of progressive and post modern, the author Anne Lamott said, “You can either practice being right or practice being kind.” I definitely erred on the practicing being right side for too long. Hopefully my practice of kindness is outweighing that side these days.

    My husband and I just watched a fabulous documentary entitled “Lord Save Us From Your Followers”. There is an awesome quote by Phillip Yancy at the beginning that we christians need to keep in mind. He said, “No one ever converted to Christianity because they lost the argument.”

    The documentary itself was eye opening and convicting for us. I especially was inspired by the second 1/2 of the movie where the director showed christians doing what they were really called to do. Not standing and demanding rights for easter bunnies and christmas displays, not lobbying congress, not winning debates against atheists but washing the feet and hair of the homeless, teaching agricultural skills to people in Africa, feeding the poor and having compassion for the least of these. The poor knew they were doing it because they loved Jesus and because of what he did for them yet they didn’t need to ram it down their throats.

    What we don’t remember or realize when we are fighting against “the other side” is that we have way more in common than we think. We’re human. We have the same wants desires and needs. An atheist can be just as compassionate for the poor as a christian. Yet we can treat each other so harshly. We get so caught up in winning the argument that we forget kindness, charity, patience and love.

    Hmmm…..I’m starting to hear Michael Jackson sing “We are the World” in the background while the credits roll so I better stop before it gets cheesy. :)

  • 4. atimetorend  |  April 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    @ Lorena, these are actually new friends, still under the evangelical umbrella, just a bit more loosely. Glad you caught the interview. We saw her in concert a few weeks ago and she was wonderful.

    @Boz, that’s funny. Probably politically correct, but funny. I’ll give you a buy since i think you are from the upside-down part of the world, right? :^)

    Christiana, I watched the first half of that movie last week, and actually posted a comment similar to yours on the blog I referenced in this post. I especially appreciate this part of your comment:
    What we don’t remember or realize when we are fighting against “the other side” is that we have way more in common than we think. We’re human. We have the same wants desires and needs. An atheist can be just as compassionate for the poor as a christian. Yet we can treat each other so harshly. We get so caught up in winning the argument that we forget kindness, charity, patience and love.

    Because I feel somehow that is very much missed in much of evangelicalism, the fundamentalist part. And it is liberating to be rid of that. To be able to point to something good a person who is not a Christian does and not feel obligated to follow the statement up with a disclaimer like, “Even though they don’t know the Lord,” or some other comment that seems to demonstrate the need to deprecate the “other side.”

    “I definitely erred on the practicing being right side for too long.”
    I did that too for a time, and after that just tried to fit in with people who seemed to do that as well. I like the vision you express in your comment a lot better.

  • 5. Boz  |  April 29, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    i live in australia.

  • 6. Christiana  |  May 1, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Just wanted to clarify (and you probably knew this) that even though I said the above we still totally agree with “Pastor Bob” in that Larry King interview. We don’t think it is unloving to tell someone that you think they are wrong like Jenn accused. I tell my children all day long when they are wrong but it doesn’t make me unloving. I thought Pastor Bob was gentle and kind and Jenn was defensive and angry. I think picket signs and an angry mob would have been wrong but I have no problem with the way he addressed the issue in that interview.
    Not wanting to get in to questions of sin, hell, textual criticism, salvation etc. at the moment. It’s just the way I see it at the right now without going into a long treatise.
    I’m also not looking for controversy here nor trying to make you angry (hopefully I didn’t). :/

  • 7. atimetorend  |  May 1, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Christiana, I was reading what your wrote previously in that context, but thanks for the clarification, I am sure it will be helpful for some reading here, and I appreciate your tone.

    I think that is a good point, if someone is picketing and angry in opposition to homosexuality or political issues surrounding it, it can make “love the sinner, hate the sin,” sound especially hollow.

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