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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Who is my brother? Who is my sister?

As my wife is fond of noting, as progressives it seems like we have more in common with other progressives in Judaism and Islam than we do with some Christians. Why is that?

I suppose it is somewhat natural for any of us Christians who carry around a qualifier like "Progressive." (and it is not the only one, there are many others.) When I am with others who share progressive ideas (legalization of gay marriage, economic justice for the poor, equality of womens' rights, etc.) I do not need also share other beliefs as well--such as my theological ones. However, when I am with "Christians" I can share a lot of agreement as well (Jesus as the Christ, the power of baptism, the sanctity of the Bible, etc.) without sharing my progressive beliefs. This schizophrenia which results from part of me agreeing here, another part there, another in this place, another in that, troubles me. I want to be more wholistic, but how can I be?

You see, to be human is to disagree. My religious heritage tells me we were probably not made that way, but the evidence I experience day-to-day tells me "disagreement" is the norm. I wish it were not so. I wish I could share my beliefs with everybody, but notice what happens then...my beliefs become the norm, the universal, and I become-- de facto--God. So how can I be united in such a situation as this?

How can I claim solidarity with my progressive brothers while at the same time claim full-communion with my Christian sisters? Is it up to me? How do I hold all these people together--who I know disagree with at least part of me--in my life? Do I forsake one group for the other? Do I try to appease everybody in silence? (In other words, everything is like the lunchroom in my junior high school?)

I don't suppose there is any definitive answer to how I can unite my schizophrenic beliefs, and I see no reason to abandon any of them either. It's not like Christians have convinced me that gays shouldn't be married; or, my non-Christian friends have convinced me that the Bible isn't all that important. I still believe both, even as my friends on each side shake their heads in pity.

One of the interesting things about the story of Jesus is that apparently there were people who were not impressed with him. Others didn't understand him, still others thought him crazy. Maybe that's what it means to be human? Maybe if you're going to have friends all across the Christian spectrum, all across the political spectrum, all across all spectrums, maybe some folks along the way will find you nuts. And that's ok...because the only other thing seems to be to give up, either on yourself or on somebody else, and that doesn't seem too wise either. Who's my brother? Who's my sister? Probably everybody.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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