Monday, January 16, 2006
God Has Been Busy
As many of you know, I grew up fairly religious. I have always believed in "God" and tried to live a "good" life. However, in recent years I have grown more and more skeptical of organized religion and associating with mainstream denominations. I have grown weary of "typical" Christians who use God as a weapon and as a message of hate rather than love and acceptance. I think of churches a lot like greek organizations--they have potential to do a lot of good (because of their financial resources and community outreach) but more often than not groupthink becomes damaging to their overall goals. However, the biggest problem for Christians today is the number of crazy people out there that loudly spread "god's word." Here are a few of my favorite messages from God:

New Orleans Mayor stated today that God is pretty pissed at all the black people in New Orleans who keep fighting--that's why he keeps sending all those pesky hurricanes (in other news he also promises to return NOLA to a “Chocolate City”)

Are you Gay or Lesbian and don't want to be? Just turn to THIS South Carolinian church

Many people fear that Ralph Reed is putting money before God

It isn't enough to punish African Americans--God is also punishing Ariel Sharon for "dividing his land." His stroke was "divine punishment."

The scariest thing is that there are people out there who BELIEVE this stuff. I know a lot of really intelligent Christians who possess independent thought and clear judgment. However, there are a lot of Christians who aren't so lucky. They probably voted for President Bush in the name of unborn fetuses. Little do they know that the abortion rate is nearing a record high (much higher than when that heathen Clinton was in office). Hmmm....I wonder how God will punish those voters.


Blogger quakerdave said...

Found your blog by clicking "Next." I like it: nice work. I just got done making a smart-aleck remark about Mayor Nagin myself...

Anonymous saintlysarah said...

today on the radio they were playing james blunt chocalate to NO mayors was midly amusing....

Blogger Katherine said...

Ack, ack, ack. A lot of what you write is true, but whenever someone compiles a list of all the jackassy things Christians do, I am reflexively compelled to compile a list of the many, many progressive Christian organizations that are engaged in very different (and less media-friendly) ministries. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending upon how you look at it), I'm a dullard when it comes to writing html links manually, so I won't bother you with the list. But please do consider organizations the United Church of Christ, which recently voted to officially support same sex marriage, and Sojourners/ Call to Renewal, which tirelessly advocates for social justice through journalism and lobbying. Or check out the Progressive Christian Blogger network, which is a laundry list of liberal Christians.

As for the comment regarding the lack of realization regarding the higher abortion rates under Bush, a well-known professor from Fuller Theological Seminary (major evangelical school) wrote extensively of that issue around the presidential election time. That's not to say that your local conservative Christian was paying attention, but even among conservative evangelical circles, there are progressive thinkers unafraid to point out glaring hypocrisies.

I guess all I want to point out is that while progressive/ liberal Christians might be in the minority, there is a significant, vital, and growing movement to finally get alternative voices heard.

(To give you some context, since I just showed up out of nowhere with a epic comment, I'm an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a progressive denomination that is the sister church to the United Church of Christ. Our general minister and president is female, at our last General Assembly we voted to make a statement against the wall in Israel as well as to repudiate hateful language toward gay and lesbian persons, among many other important social statements. But did your local paper cover that? Prolly not, because Pat Robertson is just sooo much more interesting than a bunch of justice-loving Jesus people.)

I hope I didn't come off as overly argumentative. To reiterate, I genuinely do not disagree with your statements regarding Christians, I would simply make a clear distinction between, say, Jerry Falwell and Bob Edgar (the pres of the National Council of Churches, one of those orgs I would totally link to if not for my inability).

Blogger kristen said...

Hi Katherine:

I think we are in agreement more than opposition.

While I am not aware of all of your specific examples, I am aware of general examples of liberal and progressive Christians. The understanding that Christian organizations and "Christians" (i use the word loosely) in general can do much good in the world is why I was a member of a extremely liberal and socially justice oriented church for 4 years in college when I wasn't 100% sure I believed in their doctrine, god, baptism, etc.

However, I feel compelled to say that my example and the examples you point out do not counter the argument that a huge challenge for Christians is the problem of extremists spouting off a certain degree of ridiculousness in the name of god. Sure, it could be because mainstream media loves an attention whore. It could also be because the people who are actually doing good in the world are too modest to step up and receive credit. Regardless, it remains that a lot of "average" Christians hold true to some of the same beliefs that Reed, Nagin, etc do. They don't spout off in front of cameras but they freely share their beliefs at the work place, pulpit, dinner table. And while I welcome freedom of speech (and religion) and would never condemn the beliefs as "wrong," I have not come in contact with many Christians as knowledgable and open minded as you. However, I did give people like you a shout out in my post. There are always exceptions to the rule (on both sides)...I don't disagree. And maybe I have had the extreme and unique misfortune of meeting all the pro-life, anti-gay christians in the world. If that is the case, I need to get out more. However, I think that as long as the people like Reed, Falwell and others control the microphone Christians will have a hard time attracting people like myself who (somewhat reactionarily--is that a word?!) respond to the comments with a chuckle and a knowing head shake.

Blogger Katherine said...

I agree that we're not disagreeing. How agreeable. :-)

I do know a lot of "average" Christians who take their faith seriously and think that Falwell and Robertson are nuts. They also tend to be the type of people who don't want to be all up in your face about their beliefs. Their respect for privacy contributes to the problem, as it means that there is more room for conservatives to define Christianity in narrow and offensive terms. These Christians might be in the minority, but so are liberals in general.

In terms of media coverage: Dover, Pa's anti-evolution school board and Pat Robertson's comments regarding the divine wrath they would incur were all over the news last year.

I am one of over 10,000 clergy people who signed onto the Clergy Letter Project, expressing that evolution is not incompatible with Christian faith. This coming Sunday, over 300 congregations are participating in Evolution Sunday. Is this being covered in mainstream media? Not that I'm aware of.

The LA Times did recently cover the increase of evangelical support for broader justice issues. This is great, but it still isn't highlighting all the Episcopalians and Methodists and Presbyterians and Emergent people who have recognized the biblical imperative of social justice all along.

Pat Robertson makes my job a lot harder. He makes Christianity look like an ignorant ideology. At one point, that was enough to send me running. I wanted nothing to do with Christianity. But the deep, humble, and loving faith of ordinary Christians-- and ultimately the deep, humble, and loving witness of Christ himself- was enough to send me running back.

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