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.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Losing the Plot

School has started and I have not found out a way yet to balance the demands with a regular posting schedule. I am hoping to get myself into some routine because I value this site and its readership.

I've been hired as the director of a mainline campus ministry and I've been hired as an adjunct at a university 90 miles away to teach philosophy. And also been doing some side projects such as a progressive christian radio show and some reading.

I've been recently reading The Beloved Community; How Faith Shapes Social Justice, From the Civil Rights Movement to Today. And in that work the question is raised; what happens when the religious moorings of such movements are lost.

A lot of energy has been spent on analyzing how the religious right became successful but how did the mainline fail to address this with something more compelling? I have a hunch it relates to how too often the mainline has lost its own religious moorings.

Some of this has been sparked by the way a number of liberal protestant ministries have ceased to see themselves as providing a religious ministry and instead see themselves solely in terms of social change and a certain left politics.

Some of it is an ignoring of the particulars of Christianity to some broad based social, ethical, and political ideals that are divorced from the religion. And so we get things like the YMCA, a group that no longer pretends to be an ecumenical protestant ministry.

Somewhere in there hangs a tale, which has lessons for how the mainline lost and might regain the means to provide a compelling religious home for folks. Addressing this issue will need to be even more central than simply going after the religious right.

5 Comments:

At 3:42 AM , Anonymous Chris T. said...

I've been meaning to read that book -- Marsh is great, and I enjoyed his book on Freedom Summer, which I was assigned for an undergrad course on religion and politics.

The fear of particularism is a real problem for the religious left right now. There was an article recently in Modern Theology about how it has been and continues to be at the root of anti-Semitism on the left. (Anti-Semitism on the right is of course grounded in different realities.) It's also threatening the mainline's livelihood.

I must say that worship here in France is a joy precisely because it's grounded very deeply in particulars! The procession of the Blessed Sacrament I walked in at Sacre-Coeur on Friday might strike some as idolatrous because it is so particular, but the Spirit was very much there. If we can work from these very particular experiences, we can accomplish a great deal in the realm of justice.

 
At 5:32 PM , Blogger DavidD said...

Of course, one person's particular experience is another's meaningless ritual.

My sense is that most Christians drifted from living in the Spirit a long time ago. It seems even in Paul's letters he is often telling his people to stay true to the Spirit that came with their initial conversion. I've wondered what that looked like, what Paul's idea of spiritual baptism was.

I suspect there is a straight line of being distracted by things other than God from that time into the present, looking one way on the left, another on the right, yet another for indifferent secularism, and however many other ways there are to drift besides that. People have ideas about how to combat that. I'm skeptical that this is best done as a community rather than between an individual and God. God knows what He wants.

 
At 1:45 AM , Anonymous Chris T. said...

Some people certainly do have powerful religious experiences alone, and I'm not knocking that. (I also pray the rosary and engage in solitary religious practices, though for me connection to the community is also a must.)

However, the pursuit of justice, which follows from deepening reception of God's grace, has to happen in community. God may know what God wants, but we must discern what justice is with the help of other people. Given that justice is in large part about learning to love and uphold one's neighbor, I don't see how it could be done in isolation.

 
At 3:04 PM , Blogger gregmc said...

There has been a trend long in practice that is only now producing its rancid fruits in our education system. Either intentionally or unintentionally, an entire generation has been coddled into being offended by red ink on a failing test. Some of our educators have traded red ink for a more soothing purple ink. Our children are being taught that it is ok to be mediocre. While not hurting some ones feelings is generally a good thing, you are supposed to be offended and distressed by red ink. You are supposed to be motivated to study and earn that big green A or B on that test. Red ink is used for a reason.

When I served in the US Navy I often volunteered to be a sponsor for one of the handicapped people participating in the games we supported on base. We would set up races and such for them to compete in and they loved it. To date there has not been any feeling like the one I got watching Gerald stumbling across that finish line with a big smile on his face and clumsy arms open for the hug he knew was coming. Every single one of those people won a prize, even Gerald who came in last came in first place, and where awarded as such. I loved it all. It was right and good.

In our schools some districts have made it common practice that no matter what, healthy capable children will win first place. Every single society in the world since the dawn of time has encouraged competition. That spirit is ingrained in us as humans. Competition is what makes this nation great. With very few exceptions every single one of us has the chance to make it, some may be slowed by decisions they made previously in life or those bad decision made their guardians but ultimately we all have the same chance to make it in America.

The majority of teachers and directors in our education system are liberals. Most liberals push for many issues concerning the environment and all that is natural as to expose them as being more concerned with nature than with human beings. They consider capitalism and technological advances a threat to the natural balance of the world yet, they often attempt to deny one of the healthiest instincts of our species, competition. They are teaching our children that competition is either obsolete or even more insidiously, that competition is an undesirable trait.

Most liberals are Darwinists, which is defined as: “the Darwinian theory that species originate by descent, with variation, from parent forms, through the natural selection of those individuals best adapted for the reproductive success of their kind.”

This push for “equality for all” in our schools directly conflicts with the above definition so therefore, liberals as a majority are suffering from one or a combination of three things:

1. Complete and utter, yet subtle insanity

2. Ignorance, immaturity and misinformation

3. Devious Marxist socialists scheming for the chance to overtake the American government, whether now or in later generations, after we have been weakened

Humans in general love consistency but when that consistency is in reference to contradicting ones self, something is wrong. Disturbingly consistent liberal contradictions could fill this entire writing. Inconstancies which can only paint a picture of mental instability could fill a sizeable article but that is not the focus here. The weakening of America because of them is the focus.

Schools and colleges are full of liberal teachers and professors fanning the flame of rebellion in the youthful minds of our children with their rhetoric. Youths are naturally rebellious however, it is the responsibility of society to direct them down the right paths and most of them eventually grow up. That right to guide our children down that right path has been stripped from us by our liberal educational institutions. We are all letting complete strangers teach our children socialism under the guise of free speech and the encouragement of “open mindedness.” We have socialists in our country converting our children.

Our public educational system is quickly dissolving into a morass of excuses for those who do not try. The criminal element has thoroughly infiltrated our schools because of lenient or misdirected punishment. Liberals are and have been in charge of the public educational system for decades. But they still blame Bush.

Open your mind.

The liberals have done their homework and are experts in the art of deception. They weave such a cunning web of deceit that it is even hard for someone who sees the truth to competently articulate it and convey the severity of it without sounding panicky. Often when their deceit is exposed they often shut down the opposing view with a simple ‘ism, or ‘phobic tag. Tags such as racism or homophobic immediately convey a psychological analysis of an individual and leaves the liberal with the veiled appearance of moral superiority. This thin veil is consistently stripped away but the majority of the public never hears the entirety of conservative views, they only hear the liberal opinionated spin of the main stream media owned by liberal journalists.

The failure to act on the numerous attacks on US soil and Western interests world-wide has shown America to be a paper tiger. This means that we as a country seem tough but because of internal strife we are unable to act decisively to international threats. This was the case during the first several years of World War II and is the case now. Thank God we acted with barely enough time to prevent the fascism of Germany and imperialism of Japan from spreading throughout the world.

Today’s liberals scream they are going to “take back America”. Today’s liberals have never “had” America except maybe in their pot smoke filled dirty hippy vans. Had they been in charge during World War II we would all be dead or speaking German right now just as we will be either dead or speaking Arabic and praying to Allah if they win the White house now. It is time we get angry and deal with this vermin in our country. You would never allow the pot head hippy down the road to teach your child would you?

We can never go back but we can stop this immoral degradation. The time for playing nice is over. The time for house cleaning is here and I don’t mean by defeating them in politics. I do mean the complete exposure of their malevolent intention and the removal of them in our prominent places in society. Some people are already considering the permanent removal of them. When you consider how detrimental and dramatic the changes in our lives and those of our children will be because of liberals, can you blame them? They are sneaky, underhanded flakes and the time has come to turn the lights on and watch the liberal roaches scatter. It is time to remove the current cause of internal strife in this great nation.

~gregmc

 
At 5:35 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

chris
And because of those very particulars; those practices, institutions, rituals, etc. that make up a given tradition there's a working basis to reflect on and strive towards something more universal. If those things are removed, you're left with some ideals but not with the means to actualize them. I suspect that has been a problem for the left over the years.

davidd
I'm apt to agree with chris when it comes to community and even would suggest that highly individualized forms of religious experience are thoroughly mediated through the social experience which informs us and made us who we are. But the gist of remember your baptism, a phrase from Luther could be a start to working on this issue.

greg
I'm utterly lost on how to respond to this long post, except that as a liberal the idea of demonizing folks calling us "vermin" is part of the problem in politics. And "removing folks" is the sort of eliminationist rhetoric that totalitarian regimes have readily utilized in the 20th century. As a side note competition apart from any social ethic cannot be squared with the Christian tradition

 

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