A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I'm not sure what I think of the analysis, but the experience this article covers has to be common: the awkward public moment when one claims to be a Christian and the flury of provisos and distancing from the evangelical right that follows such a claim. Or in some circles it may just prove less complicated to mention one's religion because the misunderstanding that the word Christian generates in today's political and religious climate.

But if we find little to connect with in this public image of Christianity it might be pertinent to ask: how many other people are not in a position to ever consider the possibilities of this tradition because it's expression in the US has been equated with a right wing form of politics and religion. A religion which is always attacking folks who don't fit into the cultural forms that the religion has taken in today's America.

What does one do in response to this? I suppose one can ignore the evangelical movement and do one's religious project in a mainline protestant body. But it's hard to think of the church as one body in such a solution. In any case one can't be in a position to isolate onself, because the evangelical right is in most all denominations, some just in greater or lesser numbers.

And with their growth in numbers and influence they are in a position to take over mainline bodies. As one friend of mine noted this movement "insists on being the only voice, driving out anyone who consistently acts according to alternative theological principles (even when those officially held by the denomination at large!) as a "heretic". Thus the trials and punishments that this blog has covered in these denominations.

I wish I had a solution but I don't. I've been tempted to walk away from this whole mess. Though I recently had a chance to talk with polyglut about the church, faith and doubt, and worship and it made me realize both how important this tradition has been for me and how heartening it can be to communicate with folks who are also working with these issues. It wasn't about how to stop the religious right. It was rather, how do we live out this alternative vision of faith in the church today. So the lesson in this meandering post? Talk, communicate, connect.

9 Comments:

At 8:58 AM , Blogger Jon Fortt said...

As I suspect you're aware, Tony Campolo's new book has some compelling observations along these lines. The word "Christian" has become synonymous with "bigot" or "nationalist" in much of our political discourse. What to do? I think your "talk, communicate, connect" strategy is a good one. I also think that those of us with a different point of view need to base our arguments on a firm theological foundation. (cross.fortt.com)

 
At 9:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boo-hoo-hoo. So someone thinks you are a bigot because you are a Christian. Big freaking deal. Oh my, the suffering of embarassment at a cocktail party. How horrid!

How would you like to be a muslim now, where your brothers-in-faith are chopping heads off gleefully for Allah?

 
At 10:21 AM , Blogger Joe G. said...

This is a tough question. OTH, I'm also surprised by an emerging and more vocal "progressive" arm of the evangelical movement (this has always been the case within the black Church, but not necessarily amongst white evangelicals, until recently). There is also a grassroots effort amongst many younger evangelicals that have been influenced by post-modern sensibilities. So while at the institutional, mass-media, and mainstream level it appears that the fundamentalists are indeed consolidating and extending their influence, I wonder if the seeds to undermine this are already in the making.

Nonetheless, I think it's unfortunate that liberal and moderate Christians are giving up the "word" so easily. It is indeed frustrating and tiresome, and we each have to decide how to deal with that on our own, in the end. But, a little fortitude and resiliency in the face of such challenges is in order, too.

 
At 11:25 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

Crossed: I haven't read Compolo's new book, will have to check it out, though I wanted to note what a good read your blog makes.

Anon: Never been to a cocktail party, though you do have me: chopping off hands or murder in Islam is worse then heresy trials in the church. Hoping a radical reformation is in the future of Islam (though lots of indicators are pointing in that direction)

Beppe: That has been one of the surprises one gains with the internet discovering what gen x emergening church folks are doing in evangelicalism is exciting. I suspect some of the ideas and practices that mark that movement are things that ought to be taken up in terms of the future of the mainline.

I don't think religious identifications are easily given up, but I know too many folks who have been attaked by the church repeatedly, that some people have to find spiritual health in other arenas.

Is it possible to find a space for folks within the church where this does not happen and even more happily provide a basis for opening up the tradition and it's possibilities to folks who have been historically on the outs with the church? Don't know. That's the challenge. I tend to think increasing interconnections both online and in new groupings can provide one avenue to this end.

 
At 11:15 PM , Blogger Drina said...

I'm heartened by the fact that more and more people are finally asking that question.

Can we be Christian if one does not see Christ in us?

 
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