10 (oops, make that 7) things I hate...
It's not easy being a Christ follower these days because, as I've said before, the name "Jesus" and most of the other God words used to declare loyalty to Christianity are used to justify everything from greed to hatred. If that were all there was to it, I'd throw it all away and never look back, but Jesus Himself, the redemptive story of history, the remarkably captivating ethic of God's kingdom, along with all those Christ followers embodying humility, love, simplicity, and generosity are all too compelling - intellectually, emotionally, historically, philosophically, and more.
Still, there are plenty of frustrations for those walking this road. I remember watching 10 Things I Hate about You while my kids were in High School. A young actor, Heath Ledger, played the boyfriend. He would go on to play a groundbreaking role in Brokeback mountain. Never mind what you think of the ethics of homosexuality; in the real world, real people wrestle with longings that don't fit into tidy categories, and I'd argue that this film brought the conversation of a painful subject into the public arena. That there's a church group standing outside Ledger's funeral shouting hateful slogans because of his role in this film sickens me. Once again, "Christians" are adding fuel to already inflamed misconception that all Christians hate gay people, and would rather shout at them than know them, love them, learn to be friends with them, listen to their story.
This started me thinking (and I try not to on Fridays) about the things that happen 'in the name of Jesus' that bother me most. To honor Mr. Ledger, I'm naming it: 10 THINGS I HATE. Christians do these thing... so do those who don't believe - all of us are no doubt guilty in different times and ways. I hate:
1. our propensity to put someone in a box and then presume that they are all that the label on the box implies. Stereotyping has the effect of turning people into object.
2. shouting slogans at people rather than learning to listen to them. This has happened to me when I tell people I'm pro-life. I remember some women from NARAL screaming at me, calling me a Nazi, when all I wanted to do was have a dialog with the goal of mutual understanding. Of course that's what happening at Ledger's funeral and it angers me.
3. that racism and sexism and colonialism have been such large blind spots in the church for so many generations... only now are we beginning to understand, and still we have so far to go.
4. that 'forms' in Christianity are elevated to a status of greater importance than they deserve - big church/small church emergent/traditional this music/that music read prayers/spontaneous prayers jeans/papal robes. Let's go ahead and tell each other what we like, but please - let's call these things what they are: matters of taste.
5. that we live in a noisy world of both obligatory activity and loud diversion, so that the silence so nurturing to the soul is hard to find - impossible actually without a great deal of intentionality.
6. that people who reject Christianity often do so because of the pathetic caricature they see.
7. that, in spite of the vast resource wealth of our planet, so many die each day of treatable diseases, or die because they don't have access to clean drinking water - and that this has been an increasingly severe problem in the industrial age, and that we're so slow to make collective progress.
OK... this is getting to depressing, and I don't like to whine, so I'll leave it at seven.
On the bright side though, whenever I start thinking like this, it only increases my intention to emobdy both the individual and collective power of Christ's transforming power - working towards the building of community and the embodiment of Christ's life . Where this happens, there will progress (sometimes painfully slow) towards healing, justice, love, beauty, and celebration. May the rantings of extremists and recognition of the apathy of our own hearts impassion and strengthen our resolve rather than becoming soil for the choking seeds of further cynicism.