Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One of the Temptations

I remember a conversation I had several years ago.

I was talking to my boyfriend at the time (not the one who would later become my husband.... ). I related a story I had heard about my grandfather. My aunt had told me that he used to shake his head and say, "I just don't know how anyone can be a Christian and a Democrat."

My boyfriend chuckled and said, "And we think just the opposite."

Just as if someone had hit my knee with one of those little hammers, I shot back a little, "No."

But he was just being honest.

And that's the temptation, always.

How can a good person think differently than we do? I am passionate about justice, about ending poverty, about creating opportunity, about ending racism, about advocating for children, about caring for the environment, about treating all people with respect. And those passions come from my faith values.

How can a good person come to a different conclusion about how to strive for these values politically?

In my congregation we have different political affiliations. In some quarters that is considered a liability. You know, now you have to be a "progressive" congregation or a "conservative" congregation. We're more united by our politics than by our denominations. But what if instead of Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, middle-class, upper-class, German, Polish, Catholic, or Pentecostal, we could see ourselves in the one way that would unite us: sinners. Forgiven sinners.

We are acting passionately based on our faith values. We are also making mistakes and getting it wrong.

We are open-minded and we are racist. We are cocky and we are humble. We are solving the problems of the world, and we are making them worse.

What do you think? Just wondering....


Crimson Rambler said...

Oh I do hear you. And what we can't EVER do, is say to each other, "I have no need of you."

Barbara B. said...

Well said, diane and crimson rambler!

Rev SS said...

yep ... the one thing we for sure have in common is that we are sinners ... forgiven sinners, thanks be to God

Magdalene6127 said...

You have touched on an important idea... taken together with Milton's recent post on fear at "don't eat alone"... these would seem to be THE big issues for us, as a nation, and for us as the Church of Jesus Christ. Thanks Diane!

Presbyterian Gal said...

Great insight. Reminds of the saying "United we stand, divided we fall."

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

I tend to think that my friends think, politically, like I do. NOT! But I sure do like good, thought out, rational, reasons to look at different viewpoints. When we are too afraid to state our own views, we probably miss out on the well thought out views of others as well.

Lauralew said...

You hit the nail right on the head. How boring would the world be if all were alike. How full of hubris would we be to say, "If you are not like me, you are damned."

To see the commonality we have in Christ rather than focus on the little things--that holds us together.

FranIAm said...

This is a fantastic post Diane.

I think human nature has us project our good onto things and the same with the bad.

The real problem from this- from a Christian perspective in particular is that it is all about us.

As humans we long for clarity, but so much wisdom is in the ambiguity. The polarity and dualism of good/bad, black/white, capitalist/socialist, etc etc is tempting... but the wisdom again lies in knowing we were wander in the hazy middle. I think that Jesus lives at His best in that place.

Which is why we are all saints and sinners at once, which is also the great beauty of redemption as we make our way along the path.

One says the way to Christ is this way, another says no - it is that way. The answer, I believe is that Christ is the path.

That is the hard part.

Thank you for this post, thank you.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Thank you for writing against the polarization and reminding us that we're all imperfect and forgiven only by the grace of God.

Kievas said...

Thanks for pointing out the commonality...great post!

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Great post, Diane! It is far too easy to get in the habit of assuming that my way is the only "right" way to think about things. That's one reason I am forcing myself to think long and hard about why I believe the things I do...and it's exhausting work, I have to say.

Fran--thanks for that comment. You don't know it, but my EFM group was discussing that issue just last night. I hope you don't mind---I've sent them your comment as a follow-up to the discussion.


Lindy said...

I think you're right!
Of course we are all doing the best we can, but we can't know the result of our actions. We just can't. God help us not to make too big a mess of it.

And, what Fran said.

Paul said...

Great post and comments, Diane. God free us from our tendency to divide and demonize instead of celebrating and learning from the incredible variety that springs from the same Spirit who is source of unity as well as diversity.

Having said that, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!