Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Invitation to "The Christian Paradox"

This is the kind of thing that could be taken care of in one post. But that post would focus on only one aspect of the issue, invite minimal dialogue, and leave us all moving on down the buffet line looking for the next snack or entree.

Not this time. Or at least, I hope: not this time.

I want left rev. to chime in with posts on this as she sees fit: agree, disagree, add, subtract, challenge, support; I don't care, and in fact, I'll take them all, in equal or unequal measure.

"This" is an essay by Bill McKibben, published in Harpers, but available online through Sojourners. I've only just started reading it myself, so this is an invitation to you to read it, and then come back here ready to answer, ask, discuss, disorurse, disagree, and bloviate, on pointed and un-pointed questions.

I have experiences with Joel Osteen's church (from afar) that I want to share. I have my own opinions about "suburban churches" and the creed of "what's in it for me?" But I have questions about "cultural Christianity," as I've come to call it; the Christianity McKibben identifies in his essay, although my take on it may differ from his. And McKibben is right: "Who am I to criticize someone else' religion?" But before we are done, I want to come back to a pointed, important, and very thorny question: How do we define Christianity? Is it culturally specific? A matter of confession or profession? Or a matter of deeds, of actions?

And which ones?

That's an unpleasant place to go, but McKibben invites us to go there. We can't avoid it, simply because it is unpleasant. It occurs to me that the Desert Fathers offer some guidance there, that there are ways to establish standards without judgment. We'll need to talk about that, too.

Soon enough, we can let the conversations begin.

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