Between Two Worlds Day 29 (of 40)
If I heard the comment right I think the Rev. Deborah Wright said, “Where I live in Marin County (just north of the Golden Gate Bridge) all the Jews and half of the Christians are also practicing Buddhists. They don’t see a conflict between the two.” One would have to check the actual statistics to see how close to the truth that is. But Deborah, I am sure, was not trying to convince us of a certain percentage. Rather she was making the point that we are entering a new world where the lines between religions are dissolving away.
I am still thinking about the presentation I attended on Friday on adaptive change as it spoke directly to my Lenten invitation to explore the theme “Between Two Worlds.” I once had a person observe that my sermons have occasionally highlighted some of the similarities between religions. He wanted to know when I would preach on what was distinct about Christianity.
The comment reminded me of the battle over the Black Lives Matter slogan. Folks have cried out, “Shouldn’t the slogan be ‘All Lives Matter?'” Of course that should be the underlying assumption and goal, but isn’t it interesting that it takes a “Black Lives Matter” protest to get us to say “All Lives Matter.” If we who are white had been the first to stand up and shout out “ALL LIVES MATTER! ALL LIVES MATTER!” in response to the imbalance of arrests and incarcerations of African Americans it would have been heard differently. But only in response to the Black Lives Matter movement it sounds like we are once again being defensive and just not getting it, STILL!!!
But I digress…only slightly. My questioner wanted to know when I would preach on what was distinct about Christianity in response to the occasional sermons that highlighted the similarities between religions. My thought was, “Well, that’s what you get the other 45 weeks of the year!” I don’t have to yell “Christianity Matters” every week. That’s the working assumption as soon as you walk into a Christian church.
But the truth is the language, spiritual practices, beliefs, traditions and histories of other religions are sneaking their way into my sermons and writing more and more–almost by osmosis. The lines are dissolving whether I like it or not.
Deborah says in her area that it’s more likely for someone to say they are Buddhist Christian than to claim being Presbyterian Christian or Episcopal Christian. For those of you who have read my blog for quite some time, you know I have been working with the quirky combination of “agnostic Christian mystic”–blending my ongoing openness to the “I don’t know” of faith, my Christian values, and a preference for the experiential side of faith found in mysticism.
Quite honestly, even as anxious as I am about my livelihood in this time, I am almost giddy about what is emerging. As a pastor, I just can’t wait to provide space for people to explore, affirm and name their own unique, particular and quirky faith. I want to help you come to that point where you will proudly say:
“I am an evangelical Presbyterian pantheist?”
“I am a social justice-loving, born again Baptist?”
“I am a Star Wars influenced Christian with a Native American thread.”
It all sounds crazy. But part of the beauty of our time is that no authority (not even an ordained Presbyterian minister or a Catholic pope) can tell you what to believe. Even if we did, you would still believe what you wanted to anyway. Right?!
Religion is slipping into DIY territory.