Monday, July 16, 2012

I Think You're Wrong, But I Don't Know How To Feel About Your Wrongness

I just read a blog post by Rachel Held Evans that conjured an image in my mind of Jesus singing, "Come together, right now, over me." I love the idea of Jesus singing the Beatles. The post challenged me, which is true to my generally ambivalent feelings about Evans. I like her, but I dislike liking her for three reasons:

First, because I didn't expect to like her. Sometimes "moderate" Christians (for lack of a better term) annoy me. I don't have a problem with moderates, per se, but I don't like how well they can blend in. I want them to be easier to spot.

Second, I don't like that Evans is popular. Simply put, I'm jealous.

Third, I don't like how likable she is. First I just read some of her blogs. Then I started following her on the Twitter. Before I knew it, I wanted to be her friend. How did she do that? Of course, she's a popular blogger and a print author, so the chances of me being her friend are slim. Really, the best part of being her friend would be that we could dialogue about her thoughts. Sometimes I don't want to ask questions to somebody's blog, I want to offer a dissenting, contrasting, or similar opinion and see what they think. Questions are more likely to get responses though. Even then, she can't answer every question. And what if I make a stupid typo or, just as likely, a stupid sentence or twenty? I don't want her dismissing me as much as I would dismiss me if I read my own comments.

Nonetheless, I follow her on Twitter and read a bunch of her posts. And I somehow went off on a jocose tangent before I even got started with the topic for this post.

When I read Evans's post about Christians coming together and working together, I had a hard time imagining it working. I have a pretty good imagination and I'm certainly an idealist, but reality got in the way of my imagination this time. The part of reality that got in the way was me.

If I read her correctly, Evans not only wants everyone to get along, but also to remain themselves. In order for Christians to work together, they need to be together. A lot. It would be a commitment as strong as going to church on Sunday. Although Christians could retain their congregating with their sects, I doubt most could collaborate with others while still meeting separately. 

We're talking here about desegregation. Desegregation requires identity loss. Commingling brings about mutual benefit and mutual change. Desegregation of something as radically diverse as Christianity would mean some people couldn't remain being the type of Christian they are. As one example, Landmark Baptists couldn't desegregate, because they strongly disagree that other Christians are Christians.

I would love the desegregation of Christianity, if the resultant change yielded a Christianity that looked a lot more like me.

I hate myself for saying that. Well, maybe hate is a strong word. And the feelings aren't because I said it, they are because I thought it.

I don't know about you, but when I'm honest with myself, I want some Christians to lose their identity. I want them to change. I want their particular brand of Christianity to cease existing.

For example, I believe in equality of the genders and sexuality. Those who do not agree have what I see as hurtful theo/ideologies. Through inter- & intrfaith dialogue, cohesion, and collaboration, I want people who disagree with me on these issues to change their mind. Sure, I want these conversations to be mutually beneficial. Those who don't agree with me on equality have things to offer, but I am about as ready to budge as a fundamentalist on this issue.

But for some Christian sects, they cannot be who they are and believe in gender and sexual equality. Patriarchy and hetero-privilege is so essential to their identity and it is wrapped up in their view of God, God's revelation, the Bible, ethics, and everything. Giving it up is tantamount to no longer being who they are. Christianity can't just come together without change and a lot of it.

How can I come together if I am like the missionary who wants to convert the heathens? As much as I don't like missions, I sometimes want to be that missionary. I've thought, "Maybe I should go back to church. You can't expect something to change if you're not a part of it. Maybe I should work to change it from within." But I'm not working to be transformed with it if I can't let go of myself first. Jesus said you have to lose yourself to find yourself and, according to the story, Jesus lost his life and found it again afterwards.

But how can I walk into intrafaith dialogue with someone who disagrees with gender equality without the desire to change them? How can I walk comfortably away from that dialogue knowing their beliefs are su/oppressing people?

I despise all of these thoughts. What if somebody actually reads my blog and just read about how much I want them to change, how wrong I think they are, how I think they are hurting people? All of these thoughts go against my faith in dialogue. They go against my understanding of deconstruction (I sure hope I am just missing something here, because I love loving deconstruction). I am dancing dangerously close to being a liberal fundamentalist. I can't even say I'm lacking a better term when I say "liberal fundamentalist." I like to tell myself it isn't fundamentalism, it is passion. But  I am just applying a bromide.

I'd love to end this post with a question, something to prompt you to respond. This post was partly confession, but confession with the desire for help. Perhaps that is the point of confession, not for absolution and forgiveness, but for help, for collaboration, for working together.

Even if I could come up with a good question, I would probably continue acting like someone so often identified as a liberal by talking more than I listen.

1 comment:

  1. Upon further reflection, I think my deconstruction is safe. The jury is still out on a dialogue. Although, I'm sure to apply another bromide: "It is good to exist in the tension on these issues. It means you are wrestling, you are existing in the slash of the binary. You may feel certain, but your discomfort may put you in a good place."