Yesterday, I went off on what some would call a rant. I’m not happy with the way Progressive Christianity reacts to controversy. When Christina Whitehouse-Suggs talked about “bad theology” at Big Tent Christianity, Tony Jones alluded to the fact that some people may have upset by that term. A lot of people, myself included, have a history with the more conservative, fundamental brand of the faith and don’t care for the “my way or the highway” attitude it embodies. And, that’s a good thing. What’s not so good is the way many of us have chosen to deal with that. We’re extremely careful not to say anything that would offend, belittle or marginalize anyone elses belief. Again, that’s a good thing; until it keeps you from doing the right thing. Now, I’m not counseling anyone to react like the worst elements of the Christian right and start calling anyone who deviates from a very narrow path heretics and false teachers. But, there are times when you need to call a spade a spade and do so out loud where everyone can hear you. Case in point, Joel Osteen. I don’t doubt that Mr. Osteen is a decent, caring fellow. But, that “I’m okay, you’re okay” warm and fuzzy pile of crap (also known as prosperity gospel) is, at best, tenuously connected to Christianity in that both mention Jesus and both are talked about in church. But, it has as much in common with the faith as a high school football team does with the chess club. Which isn’t necessarily nice, but it is true.
I know there wasn’t much new information in the previous paragraph, but I needed to recap a bit and lay some groundwork for the rest of this post. I knew I wanted to talk more about this subject, but wasn’t sure how to do it without sounding repetitive. Then, in my daily blog surfing, I ran across a blog entry from one of my favorites, Rachel Held Evans, author of Evolving in Monkey Town. In the post “Why Glenn Beck Isn’t a Big Deal“, she talks about how she copes with her frustration about Beck and his followers. As she was relating that, she said something profound: “We have to go on living out the alternative, knowing that Beckianity (“Beckianity”?!? Ha!) is just a fad.” Living out the alternative. Interesting, but what is that alternative?
I think it’s working to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to fruition here on Earth. That, however, brings up another question; what does that look like? I’m not sure, I only know what I’m supposed to do to make it happen: Love God and love my neighbor as myself. Although, with the way some us feel about ourselves, maybe we should love our neighbor better than ourselves. I realize that’s a tall order; if we’re not even able to love them as we do ourselves… Well, you get the picture. But, if I’m loving my neighbor, I’m not more concerned about my taxes than whether they can afford to go to the doctor. If I’m loving my neighbor, I’m not more concerned about what they believe than what they have to eat. If I’m loving my neighbor, I’m not going to pass them on the street and avoid their eyes. If I’m loving my neighbor, I’m not telling them they’re going to Hell for the living the way God made them. If I’m loving my neighbor, I’m accepting them, warts and all. If I hear anyone teaching something contradictory, I plan on saying something about it. And, it may not be so nice.