Here’s something I rarely tell people: I have two theological degrees.
Not just any theology: Judeo-Christian theology.
More specifically, Judeo-Christian, Evangelical Theology.
I am, technically, Mastered in that there Theology.
My education was a bit left of center, but still Jesus-centered. But not bible school! I didn’t go to Bible School and I’m a bit of a snob about that, i know. But, there’s Bible school — where the recipient learns one brand of Christianity and is fed answers to questions that most people arn’t even asking. Hmm, that may have been too harsh – but, I hate being grouped into that category. That type of education makes me really uncomfortable – it feels like it’s a process of creating clones, rather than thinkers. I didn’t have that education. I had a Christian theological education, which, in my opinion, was a scholarly, holistic exploration of the many facets, traditions, perspectives, and opinions that permeate the Christian and Jewish faith. A theological education, when done properly, in my lowly opinion, teaches people how to ask real questions and hopefully, instills a humility that allows the individual to admit, there may not be a knowable answer. That whole process of deconstructing ones tightly held belief system can be disillusioning to many a student, as it was for me, but it can also be freeing, as it became for me. God ceases to be a controlled substance that does exactly as your God-box allows, but instead becomes an infinite, untamed, engaging, mysterious entity that is present throughout the world, and in love with his WHOLE creation.
Why am I talking about this now? Well, I feel the need to introduce the notion that not all Christians think alike and that in reality, there are many streams that flow from the starting point of JESUS.
I’m thinking of this because of something Pat Buchanan said and because last week I read a few articles about a pastor in Seattle who tells his congregation and the world that the Jesus present in our society today is a feminized version and that the real Jesus was very male and masculine, and that women should still not have leadership roles in the church and that Reformed Theology is the real truth (some for hell, some for heaven). The article talked about this pastor’s church community, how they were all tatted up and the service was more like a U2 concert than anything else, and that thousands show up every Sunday to hear this guy, even though the theology is fairly conservative and there’s lots of talk about hell. This is nothing new — this is why I stopped going to mainstream churches — you can dress it up as “hip” as you want — but it’s the same OLD, not-so-good news — God hates who he hates, many are going to hell and men are better. Boring.
It just, it just doesn’t feel right to me. It’s so not how I’ve experienced the world, or God, or community, or women, or even good men. I hope the Kingdom of God is much more flexible, lovely, animated, diverse, eclectic, and womanly than some have conceived. And I know a lot of good men that feel the same way. It would seem, in the teachings I’ve read from Jesus and others in the OT, that God was a bit more concerned with how we treat each other, with the needs of the marginalized, with challenging greed, and with stirring up a revolution centered in self-sacrifice and humility — than he was about well, sex, sex, and sex.
But, back to the point, oh to be humble and self-sacrificial. If we took all that fervent Christian energy and funneled it into self-reflection, what would be become of the world? If we questioned every step with the wondering, “was I humble? Did I put the other before myself?” Would we need to be right? Would we need women to be weak? Would we fear change? Would we feel threatened by another’s opinions, beliefs, traditions, upbringing? OR, would we just SHUT UP and try and love our families, and our neighbors, and our friends, and our enemies?
I am no saint, ask anyone that really knows me. I am quick to stick my foot in my mouth, hot-headed, opinionated, impatient, and complain too much. I am not the loving, forgiving, non-judgmental, non-condemning Christian I would like to be. Not at all. And this post is merely a bunch of words and feelings and experiences streamed together into an opinion, an opinion that I carry deep in my heart- the opinion that, I wish a lot of Christian’s would shut up (myself included).
So, we arrive at Pat Buchanan. I will address him personally now. Pat, why, OH why, did you choose to say ANYTHING in regards to the mass slaying of 68 young, vibrant, hopeful teenagers in Norway this week besides, “I’m SO sorry this happened”? Why? WHY would you think it OK to use this terrible tragedy to discuss the validity of an INSANE man’s ideology regarding Islam and multiculturalism? Why? SHAME ON YOU. Shame on you. I am horrified by your actions.
But, awful as this atrocity was, native-born and homegrown terrorism is not the macro-threat to the continent. That threat comes from a burgeoning Muslim presence in a Europe that has never known mass immigration, its failure to assimilate, its growing alienation, and its sometime sympathy for Islamic militants and terrorists. Europe faces today an authentic and historic crisis. With her native-born populations aging, shrinking and dying, Europe’s nations have not discovered how to maintain their prosperity without immigrants. Yet the immigrants who have come – from the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia – have been slow to learn the language and have failed to attain the educational and occupational levels of Europeans. And the welfare states of Europe are breaking under the burden.[…] As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right. – Buchanan
As Simon Maley said on Media Matters in regards to Pat’s blunder, “A good rule of thumb for political commentary – or life in general- is that terrorists are never right. People who go on mass shooting sprees are never right. The man or woman who lights the fuse on a bomb that blows up a government building is never right. Their actions are wrong, and the ideas that motivated them are wrong.”
Amen. Just shut up, Pat Buchanan. Shut up.
I could say more about Jesus, and Christian theology, and American politics, and tollerism, and what COULD be. But I’ll just take my own advice at this point and shut up.