Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chiaroscuro

Really the only word for the juxtaposition of a couple recent pieces in the NYT....

First off, Nick Kristof's awesome column today, calling out liberals for our snootiness towards evangelicals and pointing out the incredible humanitarian work carried out by religious institutions (yes, in spite of my theology/religious beliefs/practices, in this case it probably is more honest to identify myself as a liberal. Though I'm really part of the tiny demographic caught in the middle.).

Follow that up with a news piece from yesterday about how the anti-abortion movement has been targeting African-Americans with conspiracy theories and emotional manipulation. Rather than addressing the reality of higher teen pregnancy rates among African-American teens, and trying to prevent teen pregnancy, the response is "shut down the abortion clinics." I don't care if your manipulative, scheming tactic works to accomplish what you want ("saving lives" in this case), the ends do not justify the means.

I still don't know quite what to think of Right Wing Evangelical Conservatives (and their nearly predictable voting block) and the above examples explain why. Yes, this is worth far more thought and commentary than I'm giving it, but I don't have time at the moment.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Of Cults and Evangelicals

A little gem I caught on the radio on Ash Wednesday, of all things.

Initial thoughts are that there seem to be some serious human rights issues with the original Unification folks. Personally, I'm rather fond of my right to not be coerced into sex and my right to choose my partner. I understand that these people were acting out of faith and voluntarily surrendering those rights, but in my mind, it's still not okay (I also note NPR's commentary on the younger generation having more control over who their spouses are, which may mean the leadership has understood/acknowledged this concern). Also, from the brief news story, it seems that they don't believe one can be single and not go to hell. Yikes. Singles are ostracized enough without the religious overtones.

So many of the quotes in this piece- about family, about relationships- could have been lifted straight out of the Southeastern US Protestant Evangelical Subculture I grew up in.Even Schanker's quote:
"Although we talk universal love and the value of the family, we sacrificed our families to the extreme, and that was Rev. Moon's emphasis. He saw himself as a person who would sacrifice to create a family and gather followers, and then he asked them to sacrifice. He put his kids through hell — like Gandhi. Gandhi did the same thing in order to move India. Rev. Moon is trying to move the world."

describes something that happens every day in clergy families-certainly the families of Protestant Evangelical pastors, and likely of Orthodox and Anglican priests, though I've not witnessed that personally .

And as they've been able to model themselves on the megachurch evangelical model,it's really not surprising that the Unification Church looks and sounds so much like the Protestant Evangelicalism of the Bible Belt.

In Jin Moon's approach of making people "feel" like they've had a conversion experience also resonates with that perspective. The core of that mentality- that in order to go to heaven you must have a conversion experience that is so dramatic and emotional you will remember it your whole life- is why I am no longer a Protestant Evangelical.
Could it be said that Anglicans, with our incense and bells are doing the same thing?


(That's Healey Willan's Gloria , and I feel vaguely heretical posting this during Lent. It's remarkably difficult to sing,especially for a congregation, but I think it's one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard.)

I would say that we're not...because there are reasons for our rites, liturgies and observations: the practice of the early Church, honoring the Eucharist, honoring the Incarnation. And because honestly, sometimes it does get monotonous saying the same words, in the same order, every Sunday in church. However, we do this because it's about who we are-not how we feel. If you're going to live like the Creed matters, you need to hear the Creed every week in church. Yes, I do get emotional in Mass at times. Nearly every single Sunday, when I see the priest add water to the wine for Communion, in honor of the fact that Christ had two natures and both are present in the Eucharist,a single tear will come to my eye. I am awed that God himself took on human frailty to become man, and that Incarnate God makes himself (both human and divine) present in a piece of bread, in order to nourish me and be a part of my life. That strikes me as a little different than "OMG, my skin is tingling, the Holy Spirit is HERE!!!!!"

And really, I wonder....how do Christians who aren't Catholic (Roman, Anglo, Orthodox)deal with groups such as the Unificationists or the Church of God of Latter Day Saints? If you can't say that the core of your spirituality is grounded in the Incarnation and the Eucharist, what do you stand on? The ecumenical councils were vital for hammering out what Christianity is. If you don't know them....what ground do you have for saying the Mormons or the Unificationists aren't Christians? And why don't Bible Belt Evangelicals teach the Creeds and the Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church? (at least the first six...I understand why they have issues with the seventh)

Monday, February 15, 2010

You know you're doing what you're supposed to be when on a holiday you find yourself perfectly content in your pajamas at your laptop with a nasty cold, pecking away at a funding proposal.
So much to do. So much that deserves reflection and words.
Looking forward to Lent.