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Should We Interfaith With Conservatives


BeachOfEden
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I got the lastest issue of the TCPC newsletter today. On page#3 under News & events there is an article intitled," President's Report, in which author James R. Adams says that "Progressive Christians have done a lousy job of making any effort to innerfaith with Conserative Christians." Any of us Progressive Christians who manage to escape or overcome a past fundamental church background and had to learn to deal with our devote still conservative family members or friends that we better return to the fold of "orthodox" Christianity before the end comes...knows by past attempts of trying to reason with such conservative family and friends that unforuantly this is like talking to a brick wall.

 

I have read many a booklets at Christian book stores in which Evangelical Protestant author's and pastors warn people that they view even their Progressive and liberal Protestant peers as New Age false cults. This kinda puts a damper on any attempt to inneract with them. Another thing is the far right Protestants, Catholics, LDS, and JW's..each of these conserative faith groups views everyone ELSE as lost unsaved and hopelslly false heathens who they should not wast any chance at getting spiritual koodies from. Such groups will only innerfaith with groups who agree with THEM.

 

Our best chance is to focus on those who would be best discribed as "Evangelical Lites", Liberal-minded Catholics, and any Mormon, JW or the like who voices to us a strong interest in social justice that they themslves voice as being missing in their own church groups.

 

To help in this...the more Progressive Christians who come and join here who came from these conseravtive faith group backgrounds...the more we can be ready and capable of relating to their jounry towards a more Progressive view of Christianity and that the Golden Rule should surpass our doctrinal views..So what i would sugest? Well, what fundamental faith group background did YOU come from? Do you know friends who came from the same? Do they voice agreemnt in your Progressive views on Christianity that you have shared with them? if so, then by all means, invite them here to join us!

 

Also considering creating a free web page of your own with the word "Progressive Christian" attacthed to the name of the former conservative faith group you came from. Example "Progressive Mormons Alternative Network." Or replace the titled, "mormon" here with YOUR own former faith group name here. Then advertise it on Progressive themed web links and on the googel directory or Yahoo serach.

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Our church does innnerfaith projects with other denominations. USually it is the non-politically charged ones like taking turns staffing the soup kitchen or building Habitat houses, or helping with flood relief, that sort of thing. In these task-oriented things it's much easier to put any differnces aside, because there's a big job to do for the Kingdom and we can talk about that instead of any hot-button topics.

We have collaberated with people also in political areas that we might not agree with them on everything but we agree with them on one or 2 big things. Like we often see The Catholic brothers at anti-war rallies that we go to.

It is difficult in other things though. Some more conservative congregations want to secede from our association because they don't like that some members of the association are Open and Affirming, and they want to distance themselves from us. It's hard to dialougue with someone who calls you an abomination.

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Group: Members

Posts: 87

Member No.: 179

Joined: 25-June 04

 

 

 

"This said, fundamentalist churches rarely participate in ecumenical gatherings as they don't wish to associate with (as they see it) "liberal, backsliding, deviant bastardizations of the true Christian faith."

 

Yes, that is correct. You'll noticed that when Calvary Chapel's pastor Greg Laurie has his Harvest Crusades...no Progressive or even moderate mainstream churches join. He has voiced dissapointment in this..but the moderates and progressives know from personal experinces that if they tried something like this then they'd have to endure sermons about things they don;t feel are in harmony with Social Justice. They may talk about other faith groups claiming to be Christian are really unsaved and angerous cults. They may say something sexist.

 

Having said this...while it may not be pssoble to inner faith with the most extrem versions of the far right...Still there ARE those who consider themselves to be more Lite Evangelicals, Catholics, JW's LDS,SDAs..ect. That is..while their churches may NOT be moderate or Progressive...still THEY MAY BE..and thus such individuals might be really glad to learn that people like THEM ARE welcomed to join US.

 

I think that IS our best bet..to try and reach out and innerfaith with moderate and Progressive minded individuals who may be in churches that are not.

 

I think another possible problem that we need to look at..is the fact that many far right extreme fundamental Christians have lumped us Progressive Christianity WITH far a branch of the far left that we are, and we need to help clearify this mistaken view.

 

I am friends with many Liberal Christians who may not share our belief that Jesus is the relm or Gateway to God and they may view many Christian basics we hold as merely positive 'myths." The extreme right can NOT or does not care to UNDERSTAND the 'difference' between the more far left liberal version of Christianity verses the Progressive Christianity. Unforuantly, the etxreme far right pastors have convinced Evangelicals that basically if you are NOT an Evangelical Christian then whether you are a progressive Christian or a Bahai person or a Neo-pagan or New ager..that it's all the same.

 

If they could learn that would do NOT view Jesus as just a good myth and that they only difference between our Christianity and there's is that we actually believe in social jsutice and that furthermore we actually believe in practicing it towards ALL..NOT just the branches of Christianity that agree with us.

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  • 2 months later...

Interfaith on noncontrovesial community projects is great, fundementalism might be the best situation for those who are falling apart from drug use to join, but they appeal only to a niche. We're better of making Progressive Christianity into a group that appeals to open minded, loving, intellegent people, otherwise, especially if faith based programs grow mainly from evangelical projects, most people will see Christianity in the pushy, intolerant vein that evangelicals portray it as, and people who are not of a fundementalist mindset will stay away from all forms of Christianity.

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I think most "mainline" churches do interfaith activities with other denominations. As ArmadilloUCC says, most of these are sort of general "good works" catagory. And of course, any kind of anti-war effort puts the church in contact with Catholics. There have also been those efforts that reach out to non-Christian people of faith. However, I think with few exceptions, these have not been effective at interfaith with fundamentalists (as opposed to some more moderate evangelicals). I think largely the problem is theological.

IF your main purpose in any kind of good works and social justice is to "save souls", you are going to really have different activities, different directions, etc. in what you do. For example , a soup kitchen run by a fundamentalist group with start out with the requisite prayers (I suppose many start with a "grace"), I'm talking about anything longer), would have lots of Bibles lying around, etc. Whereas one run by many other churches would just be a safe place for a meal and perhaps some networking or resources (drug treatment center info for instance), if the person says they want it.

 

Some churches get together for cross racial or ethnic endeavors. For example, our church gets together with the Spanish speakign UCC which is much more conservative.

 

I don't know if there are other kinds of activities, musical events, for instance that have ever crossed that area. But you know even in music, our traditions are different.

 

 

--des

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I live in a small town. There are nine churches, of which seven would be considered on the conservative side of centre. We generally have an all faiths carol service during the Christmas season and the Good Friday service is hosted by one of the churches. (Our turn this year). We cooperate on things like the food bank etc.

 

Things are very different when politics are involve. Our minister found out at the last ministerial meeting that our MP had sent a letter to seven of our local churches, but not to our church (United Church) or the Anglicans. The letter was about coordinating opposition to the federal government's upcoming legislation on marrage. This is understandable as both our church and the Anglicans have spoken in favour of same sex marriage, but it does show where the lines are drawn.

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  • 3 months later...

This discussion where individuals have suggested that we Progressives should innerfaith with those are the far right. Was discussed here in this thread. I brought it back to remind the viewer at home how we discussed this before and ironically, back then no Progressive here seemed to get defensive and claim that any of us progressives were guilty of stero-typing....Why have thing just lately suddenly changed since then?

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Group: Members

Posts: 87

Member No.: 179

Joined: 25-June 04

 

 

 

If they could learn that would do NOT view Jesus as just a good myth and that they only difference between our Christianity and there's is that we actually believe in social jsutice and that furthermore we actually believe in practicing it towards ALL..NOT just the branches of Christianity that agree with us.

 

...but you contradict yourself Beach. You said just yesterday(or was it earlier today) that you don't want to dialogue with Non-Progressive Christians or Christians who support Bush ...that's not ALL inclusive is it?

 

I'm curious also as to how you define "Progressive Christianity". The 8 Points are the guidelines offered for a Progressive Christianity and these do not define doctrinal beliefs, practices, or political affiliations for its associates. There is a tremendous amount of room in Progressive Christianity for a wide range of differing beliefs and practices including how one defines Christianity itself. Some Progressives may indeed focus on "social justice" first and foremost, but some Progressives may focus more on the "search and not certainty", or the freedom to explore the sacred dimensions of other faiths and traditions. In fact, I think it contrary to the spirit of Progressive Christianity that you claim to know what WE Progressives believe at all, or that you think that you can speak for ALL of us. Some Progressive Christians DO believe that Jesus is a Mythic rather than historic figure and some Progressives feel that there are many more differences between the Progressive position and the Fundamentalist position than just social issues.

 

You seem to be inventing a Progressive Christianity according to what you need it to be. But Progressive Christianity isn't a "safe" place far away from the condemning voices of Fundamentalism or the mocking voices of modern Paganism, not will it save you from the discomfort of having your beliefs questioned or your positions challenged. Quite the contrary. Your only safe place is in God.

 

In my opinion you are out of line to question whether any one here belongs here. If they are here they belong here. Period. If they are here just to fight or condemn or try to coerce people into believing their way, then they will either get frustrated and leave or the moderators will ask them kindly to take their fight somewhere else. I've seen no one here behave in this manner; at least no one that posts regularly. And in my opinion, Freds posts in particular, embody the best of Progressive Christianity with intelligence, thoughtfulness, and fairmindedness and I don't think that because he occasionally disagrees with you that this makes him a suspect "Progressive". Fred is a man of honor and if he says that he is a Progressive Christian then I have no reason whatsoever to doubt it, and I have seen nothing from him to justify making him prove it to anyone.

 

It seems to me that you are trying to sow discord and to polarize this forum.As you are aware you are not the only one on this list that comes from a fundamentalist background or who has been hurt by fundamentalist thinking and attitudes. The biggest trap for we recovering fundamentalists is a tendency to become what we hate; to turn the tables and treat others exactly the way we were so hurtfully treated and to feel justified in doing it, because "afterall we are right and they are wrong". Some of your posts, Beach, approach this spirit and a truly loving community will point this out to you.

 

 

lily

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"...but you contradict yourself Beach. You said just yesterday(or was it earlier today) that you don't want to dialogue with Non-Progressive Christians or Christians who support Bush ...that's not ALL inclusive is it?"

 

I was NOT talking about the right when I said this. I have no desire to be all "Inclusive" to anyone on the right, neither spritually nor politically. Maybe that IS what you believe. Maybe YOU want to innerfaith with non-Progressive Christians, if you do, then..go ahead.

 

But "I" don;t ever recall making any indications of this. As for Fred..I just think his defensive response to my thread about McCarthy and Bush was over-the-top and a puzzle. If merely quoting that 8 points on THIS site somehow qualifies me as being guilty of speaking in behalf of all Progressives here..then I guess I AM guilty of merely quoting the 8 points.

 

I see no reason for any Progressive Christian to get defensive about Bush or McCarthy. Second, I don;t even know 'if' these people acting defnesive ARE Progressive..and 'if' they are then why are they getting so defensive about all this?

 

 

I 'thought' THIS site and it's forum were a fundamentalist-FREE zone. If this is incorrect, I'd like to know..because this is the first for me to hear of this.

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I agree that Progressives cannot expect that thru Progressive Christian thought they are somehow safe from fundamentalism or atheism (for that matter). However, there is a difference in a forum. I did not think that tcpc was restricted in some way to Progressives. The only restriction, as far as I know, is to "not seek to convert, or coerce, or attack". I have imagined that the Progressive Christianity part of the forum should be less debate and more discussion. I think there are members who have crossed the line on the "converting, coersion, and attacking" mode, but most of them have been polite about it.

 

OTOH, I am always a little disappointed though when a great discussion goes from discussion to "defense of beliefs" as happens once in awhile. I personally don't think that it should be allowed as it gets into the "coersion or conversion" type thing. I don't feel I should have to be in a defensive mode to communicate here. However, it is a fine line. Say member x says "I don't agree with this, I think Y". In my mind that would be ok, but if s/he said "you are all off as this is the Truth", well then member X is in conversion mode. However, anything around here has been very minor compared to the stuff that was going on on the ucc forum-- I don't know if any of you recall some fo that stuff. My feeling of God was not changed but I did not like to discuss anything with the atmosphere that was going on there. ( I read that a few people who saw the UCC forum first did not end up attending UCC churches as they thought that that was what was going on in them. Yikes.)

 

I also feel that some people have been really hurt by fundamentalism and need a time and space to heal. So if some member says "this happened to me and so on" and someone were to say "You have turned away from the Truth and are bound for hell". Well I don't think that would be appropriate here.

 

So I had no expectations that this was a fundamentalist free zone ;-) but that if they were here they would have to go by our rules. I don't think they always have but they usually have. (I also don't think that we ourselves have always abided by our rules!)

 

I believe in free speech, but you don't necessarily have to share your speech *here*.

You have the whole web to do it.

 

I also do not think that if anyone says they are a Progressive they should be questioned as to what their actual motivations or thoughts are. I agree that there are a range of thoughts and beliefs, and as I recall when you questioned whether YOU were a progressive or not several of us immediately said you were if you felt you were. (I can' recall the exact conversation though.) I think a Progressive could be politically conservative, it might be pretty odd but it could happen. :-)

 

Just my 2¢.

 

--des

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I am not trying to beat a dead horse here but I AM TRUELY baffled as to why Fred P would get SO defensive in response posting a thread on today being like the Second McCarthy era or passionaly defend, The Political or religious far right. Does it makes sense that any of us Progressive Christians should feel this need that you spoke of Des, of needing to defend our Progressive views? Should non-Progressives come on here and make requests that we not challenge neither the religious nor political right? That we can not voice our dissaprovel of Bush or the poltical right or Evangelicals withOUT being tagged intolerant? Thirdly, if a Progressive Christian voices their dissaprovel of either the poltical or religious right or both and explains that they feel the right is intolerant than does merley stating this make one intolerant?

 

Why should any of us follow progressive feel the 'need' or be 'required' to not voice our dissatification with either the religious right or the political right? This is the Progressive forum ..Not the fundamental Christian Right forum. It's not even the Fundamental Christian Lite forum. Furthermore, how is it that any Progressive Christian should be told that they are expected to or should inneract or innerfaith with the right? If individual Progressive Christian 'wish' to inneract or innerfaith with further right Christians, that is their freedom. but as a whole, who has a right to be telling us, that Progressive Christians as collective group 'SHOULD' be innerfaithing with the fight right? Either religiously or politiically?

 

Lastly but not least..I am really wondering what these few individuals motives are in so passionatley defending the religious and/or political right. What is their objective is telling US that WE 'SHOULD' be innerfaithing with those of the farther right..whether religious or political? this is odd to me. 'I" have no interest in going on any Fundamental Protestant or Fundamental Catholic sites and telling THEM that THEY 'SHOULD' be innerfaithing with Progressives for the sake of tolerance.

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I can't speak for anyone else, and I have no idea why conservative Christians would WANT to come here. But since the net began there are always a certain group of people who want to go the Mac forum and argue pro PC. And I contend that it mostly goes back to that. :-)

Anyway, there is nothing anywhere that says that they can't come here if they behave themselves, and with some exceptions they do. Motivations are something pretty near impossible to determine in someone else. So there could be multiple reasons that would be perfectly benign and understandable-- such as a desire for understanding of others' faith, an interest in strenghening one's own by having it challenged, even a latent interest in Progressive thought.

 

Beach, you're kind of getting close to attacking Fred. I read his comments very carefully to see if there was some attack in them and I didn't see it. Yet I do know that these things may look different to someone else. However, I saw his comments as more a plea for more rigorous thinking. For example, if one says "conservatives ALWAYS" it is an oversimplification. Progressives often get charged that we are over simplifying things (I think it is more a general culture thing, oh well).

 

Beach, I read that Fred said he disliked Bush's policies in very strong language, but just did not care for oversimplifying the views of conservatives.

 

I think we should not have to defend our Progressive faith here. When we do, someone is violating policies of the group. But Progressive politics and faith are not identical, so there will be disagreements on politics. Most Progressives believe in social justice issues, but HOW these are done might differ. For example, a Progressive christian could believe that government is unable to meet any kind of social justice problems and believe that we should be dealing totally with nongovernment organizations. Others might feel a need to call governments to more socially just actions.

 

--des

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I am not trying to beat a dead horse here but I AM TRUELY baffled as to why Fred P would get SO defensive in response posting a thread on today being like the Second McCarthy era or passionaly defend, The Political or religious far right.

 

Fred did not seem to me to be SO defensive at all...neither did I observe him passionately defending Bush, fundamentalism, or the religious or political far right. He seemed to me to be making the valid and important point that in the case of individuals it is unjust to categorize, stygmatize, ostracize, or condemn based on who they voted for in the last presidential election, or to categorize them based on this into some stereotypical fundamentalist far right "I'll fly away oh glory..." yahoos from Georgia that exist primarily to piss you off. He may even have been trying to point out that it is traditional within Christianity, Progressive or not, to "war not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in high places" and that it accomplishes nothing to place your enemies in boxes nicely labeled so that you can practice target shooting.

 

I voted for Bush in the last Presidential election. I don't pray for him as much as I should. Why people think it accomplishes anything to hate the man beats the hell out of me. It's as if the amount of emotion and hatred one can muster up against something somehow gets passed off as actually doing something to make the world a better place. Seems a skewered way of thinking from where I sit. And impractical. George Bush is the president of this Land. How is it Christian, Progressive or not, to continually pray evil against him with our hate? How is this bringing peace and health to the Land? In my mind what distinguishes Christians from non-Christians is that we don't fight on the same field. Our fight is spiritual and non-violent (and violence can be done without ever raising a fist) and we pray for our enemies, not hate them and mock them. Besides, life is not so simple as all that Beach. All of us act and have our being in God and none of us know exactly why we do anything. Many of us were once irritating and closed-minded fundamentalists ourselves. People change. It is best to be compassionate and patient with one another.

 

Also, how will a Progressive Christianity gain a foothold as influence in todays world if we isolate ourselves from those that oppose us? As Progressives, it seems to me, we are very much concerned that the prevailing image of our tradition be re-structured as well as preserved in its integrity. That suggests to me that our primary aim would be to dialogue as much as possible with Christians who are not progressive. Granted, one should not have to endure the venomous condemnation of the more lunatic fringe among us, but we shouldn't assume that because someone is fundamentalist in many of their views that they are automatically "not one of us" and therefore "enemy".

 

 

And lastly Beach, you are free to say whatever you wish, but the rest of us are equally free to say whatever we wish. That's how freedom works. You'll understand this better when you stop bunching us all up into camps based on your own limited understanding. The reason I say that those that are here belong here (whether or not they agree with you or me or Fred or Cynthia or darby or Aletheia and so on ) is because we only see in part...we do not know what God is doing in someones life and we certainly can't presume to know WHAT He SHOULD be doing either. I support an open, progressive forum that welcomes all who come. That is, afterall, the way the TCPC has set this forum up, and what seems to me to be in the spirit of a truly Progressive Christianity.

 

 

lily

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The far fundamental right and the liberal left will always stero-type the other side. We can stop this. On the Daily Show with John Stewart, once a major figure of the far right (I don;t even remember WHO) basically stated that ,

 

ALL liberals that watched The Daily show are were against Bush were, and I quote here,

 

"A bunch of pot-smoking liberal hippies."

 

Now, is this statement true of all liberals? Obviously not. I DO consider myself a "liberal hippie". This title does NOT insult nor offend ME. What about the part suggesting that 'ALL' liberals who oppose Bush are ALL "pot Smokers"? What do "I" think of this? I don't like it and I realize it is NOT true of 'ALL' liberals.

 

To be prefectly honest with you, and you can read my past threads here on this very issue to verify this...I am dead set AGAINST recreational marijunja use and I will will tell this to anyone that ask, Never the less "I" don't care that some major rep of the far right labeled all us "liberals and Progressives as "Pot-Smokers." I already know this IS their mind-set

 

. This is NOT a new revelation to me that these type feel like this about US. But this statement does not make me get my panties in a twist because I ALREADY KNOW that THEY feel this way about US and THIS IS WHY "I" do NOT wish to personally inneract with THEM.

 

Now..if other Liberals WANT to inneract with THEM and endure these statements or try and counter act them, be my guess..but you must be prepared that YOU WILL be type-cased like this..Can you take it? Do you 'WANT' to take it? You should perpare yourself for this when you enter their relm, the relm of the right.

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RE: Marijuana pipe smoking liberals. Hah, well liberals aren't the only people that overgeneralize!!!

 

As I said, I think it is due, in part, to a sound bite culture with its 5 minute news spots and such exaggerations as red and blue states.

 

I think it behooves people of good faith to use reasoned arguments. Honestly, I have heard really very insane things on both sides re: their political opponents. I think some of the civility of government is gone (and commented on sadly by older members on both sides of the aisle), and this has been passed on (or the other way) by regular citizens.

 

The most insane things were said about Clinton (things like murdering Foster), while other insane things are said about Bush (say, he is using religion, he is insincere or he is a racist, etc). It would really be helpful (and Christian) to consider our language re: political figures. We can still engage in vigorous debate without assaulting characters, something that is really out of style sadly. I remember a particular race in Congress many years ago (perhaps a couple decades). Both candidates both attested to the high moral qualities of their opponents and to their decency as human beings. Funny thing the guy who most strongly supported his opponent ending up winning. It was not, at that point, any political motivations, imo. I thought that both men believed what they were saying "Vote for me as I am the better leader".Too bad but we are at the stage where there was almost no truth on either side of the most recent elections.

 

I also dislike the hijacking of the term Christianity and the belief that anyone who is not right wing is not Christian, but I think that the views are understandable as a (overreaction) to corruptions in modern life that are everywhere.

 

Beach, you might enjoy the book "God's Politics". Wallis does an excellent job of arguing his points with 0 attacks. He talks about the good points of GWB, but calls him to task for "bad theology" (ie equating the US with Christianity). He says some things re: Progress. Christianity that I don't agree with, but it is still an excellent book.

 

 

--des

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Now..if other Liberals WANT to inneract with THEM and endure these statements or try and counter act them, be my guess..but you must be prepared that YOU WILL be type-cased like this..Can you take it? Do you 'WANT' to take it? You should perpare yourself for this when you enter their relm, the relm of the right.

 

Point 8

 

"By calling ourselves Progressive, we mean that we are Christians who:

 

Recognize that being followers of Jesus is costly, and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege."

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But you did not answer the question. Do YOU WANT to dilalog with those on the farther right? Are YOU willing to endure the challenges that may be given to you there? It is up to you if you want to innerfaith in conversation or not. It's your free choice.

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It's encouraging to see that my intentions have been correctly understood. Bottom line, I was trying to say that oversimplification needs to be avoided at all costs. No more, no less. I actually never said one thing by way of argument about any politician or group on any side (aside from sharing my personal opinion once, as a gesture to correct a misunderstanding about where I was coming from). I didn't feel the need to blame the religious right for oversimplifying, because we all know they do it. But people are notorious for not seeing in themselves the very same things they accuse others of, so I'm merely trying to keep the light pointed at us too. Who was it who said, "Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?" God knows I've been guilty of the very same thing many times over, so it's not something I'm trying to say out of self-righteousness. But I can't hold back from saying it strongly, because it's just so important to our mission as progressive Christians. In a society that is becoming more polarized by labels and boxes every day, we must show the world a better way. Otherwise, we're just another group with another agenda.

 

Yes, I do want to dialogue with the right. I am willing to endure the challenges I find there, and I'm willing to listen for any good ideas they may have, that my own blinders have caused me to pass over too lightly. I'm also willing to endure the challenges I find on the left! No person or group can possibly have all the right answers, or all the wrong ones. That doesn't mean I'm going to sit down with Fred Phelps and dialogue about homosexuality though. That's where discernment and strategy come into play. But there's no such thing as discernment when there is only black and white, red and blue, right and left.

 

Thanks des for bring up the role of the television media in understanding how our culture has become so polarized. This is dead on target. The tube has thoroughly altered our cultural attention span, and our ability to see issues in their full complexity. If your views about some issue can fit on a bumper sticker, I promise you they're wrong. We've all seen the monster SUV covered with "Support our Troops" ribbons, Christian fish, and Bush/Cheney decals; but who hasn't seen the other great cultural cliche: the college professor in the little beater car, covered with liberal bumper stickers? Neither of these oversimplifications can be right; but neither can a watered-down "moderate" compromise.

 

The way forward is more sane, more frustrating, and more exciting, than anything our corporate media-politics machine is able to give us: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But to make this a reality, for us, for our children, and for our grandchildren, we have to have to resist the easy labeling, boxing, and stereotyping that has become so commonplace in our culture -- and risk being viewed as an outcast by everyone who does it. Do we have the moral courage to do this?

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As I've been reading through all this (and other related posts), I hear questions regarding the Christian call to justice, and questions regarding the Christian call to be in true relationship with others different from ourselves.

 

Now, I shall talk about my own understanding of "Christian Justice."

 

*drags out soapbox and steps up*

 

*ahem*

 

First I want to begin by stating that my understanding of Christian justice is rooted in my conviction that Jesus (who was fully human and fully divine) calls us into discipleship to follow his divine way, and as such to become more fully human ourselves. As Jesus has identified with humanity, so too are we called to drop our parochial or tribal identities in favor of identifying with “being human” or the “human way of being.” This, I think, leads us down three paths, which are relative to a given situation. All of these are vital components of "justice."

 

First, Christians are called to be peacemakers. Christian peacemaking, at least in my mind, is a pro-active attempt to stop the violence before it starts. This category includes especially the various forms of boundary-crossing dialogue, such as interfaith dialogue, cross-cultural dialogue, and so on. It also includes attempts to broaden perspectives by helping people to connect experientially by contact with those who are different. When people understand where others are coming from and can identify with them on at least some level, then they are more open to creative solutions and are more likely to shy away from violence in its various forms. This is what happens when Christian peacemaking is at its best.

 

Second, Christians are called to be prophetic. Ultimately, the prophetic act is the proclamation that we stand under the Divine Covenant. As Christians who claim to be under the Covenant of Christ, it is our assigned task to work for the outpouring of divine justice in this world, a creaturely order that reflects the image of the God who is a union and communion of self-giving love. We do so as we give voice and empower the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. We do so when we stand firmly against the exploitation of human beings for profit. We do so when we boldly proclaim the right of full human inclusion where there is exclusion or neglect.

 

Third, Christians are called to be a reconciling people. Sometimes, justice actually prevails. When that happens, there are still a lot of hurt people. The struggle for justice cannot happen without people getting wounded on a variety of different levels. Often, those who have new feelings of empowerment will want to overstep their bounds and become vengeful toward those who have treated them unjustly in the past. And those who have been moved from centers of power find themselves afraid of what vengeance might mean. As soon as the battle for justice is over, a new battle almost immediately begins. But from a Christian perspective, the cause of justice is never about vengeance or dominance; it is always oriented toward a just social order that is solidified in reconciliation. Everybody makes mistakes. Those who have been agents of injustice are as much victims (if not to the same degree) of a dog-eat-dog world as those who have been oppressed. They too are products of society. They too are in need of forgiveness. They too need to experience the grace of God in their lives so that they too can know that they do not have to walk the path that they are on. The work of reconciliation resists both the counter-oppression by the previously oppressed and resists the demonization of the “other” which perpetuates the violence. It flows from the commitment to preserve the integrity and dignity of all humanity.

 

So, in my mind, the quest for Christian justice is not just incomplete, but also questionable if it does not seek all three components. Indeed, to strive for the prophetic while neglecting the reconciling or peacemaking aspects really only serves to readjust the boundaries of the domination system.

 

Therefore, I would propose the question: To what extent can we really say that we are "seeking justice" if we are not willing to engage in the hard work of "peacemaking" with those who are different from us, even theologically? I don't believe that entry into dialogue with the religious right is an option. Rather, I believe it is our inescapable obligation to God to promote the politics of peace with those with whom we share Table. After all, if we cannot love those with whom we share in the baptismal waters of life, how in the world are we supposed to love our enemies, those who would steal away our lives?

 

(Yes, this too shall someday be on my podcast, but not yet.)

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As I've been reading through all this (and other related posts), I hear questions regarding the Christian call to justice, and questions regarding the Christian call to be in true relationship with others different from ourselves.

 

Now, I shall talk about my own understanding of "Christian Justice."

 

*drags out soapbox and steps up*

 

*ahem*

 

First I want to begin by stating that my understanding of Christian justice is rooted in my conviction that Jesus (who was fully human and fully divine) calls us into discipleship to follow his divine way, and as such to become more fully human ourselves.  As Jesus has identified with humanity, so too are we called to drop our parochial or tribal identities in favor of identifying with “being human” or the “human way of being.”  This, I think, leads us down three paths, which are relative to a given situation.  All of these are vital components of "justice."

 

First, Christians are called to be peacemakers.

 

Second, Christians are called to be prophetic.

 

Third, Christians are called to be a reconciling people.

 

Therefore, I would propose the question: To what extent can we really say that we are "seeking justice" if we are not willing to engage in the hard work of "peacemaking" with those who are different from us, even theologically?  I don't believe that entry into dialogue with the religious right is an option.  Rather, I believe it is our inescapable obligation to God to promote the politics of peace with those with whom we share Table.  After all, if we cannot love those with whom we share in the baptismal waters of life, how in the world are we supposed to love our enemies, those who would steal away our lives?

 

(Yes, this too shall someday be on my podcast, but not yet.)

 

 

Amen.

 

 

lily

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