That’s what Diana said about one of my posts the other day. When I questioned her, she said I was accusatory, to which I answered “Maybe they need accusing” If I were to say that didn’t go over well, it would be an understatement akin to saying the pilot of the Hindenburg had a bad day on May 6, 1937. At first, I chalked her critique up to the fact that she doesn’t like it when I mention politics, but she tends to be one of the few stabilizing influences in my writing life, so I decided to ask a few others and see what they thought. I’d love to say I did this because I realized what she said had merit, but wouldn’t be true. I asked people I thought would back me up on what I said and it backfired. Her sister Tammy wouldn’t really answer and my brother agreed, saying I have been a bit shrill of late. After that little family smackdown, I thought it over and decided that, since I’ve spent a lot of time screaming about what the church and Christendom has done to piss me off, I’d change it up and talk about what they get right. Which is not what I intended when I started this entry, so God only knows where it’s going to end up. But here goes:
- Renewal and Education _ In a world where you are constantly assaulted with the message that you are the most important thing, that your wants and desires are what matter most, the church is really the only institution that begs to differ. They are definitely the only organization that offers any help living out that concept. If we weren’t hearing the message of the Gospel and catching a momentary respite from the constant battering the world gives us, we wouldn’t be able to manage even the dismal job we’re doing right now.
- Social Justice _ I know I blast them on this subject rather often, many churches at least make an attempt at this. When I returned to the UMC, they were in the midst of a boycotting Taco Bell for buying tomatoes from companies that didn’t pay their migrant farm hands a decent wage and make sure their work conditions were acceptable. That boycott eventually bore fruit and Taco Bell changed their policy on the matter. That’s just one example, there are too many more to list.
- Acceptance _ Again, here’s another place I probably haven’t given credit where credit is due. While it’s true that all too many churches still have abysmal records where LGBT issues are concerned, many have stepped up on race relations, gender issues and the like. Our hearts, doors and minds aren’t quite as open as they should be…, but we’re getting there.
- Personal responsibility _ I hate to admit it, but this one thing the conservatives have right. At some point, you’ve got to step up and take responsibility for the crap you find yourself immersed in. I get that. What I don’t get is the idea that the people who do (or don’t) aren’t deserving of our help.
- The church is here _ And, it wants to help. Churches everywhere show up whenever there are disasters, natural or otherwise, and provide much-needed support in times of trial. From individual efforts to relief organizations like UMCOR, Christians are turning out to help their fellows and I really should acknowledge that more often than I do.
I know I’ve been pretty hard on the church, but that’s only because I know what we’re capable of when we take the time to step outside of ourselves and actually live the Gospel. The fact that we don’t do so more often is extremely frustrating to me. But, I also need to step back every now and then and appreciate when we get it right. I’ll try to do that a little more often.