Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette. Hsiao: love within the family (parents for children and children for parents. Yi: righteousness--the noblest way to act in a situation. Xin: honesty and trustworthiness. Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others. Chung: loyalty to the state and authority. --Confucius (Kong Fuzi)

All articles appear in reverse chronological order [newest first].

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I believe the past is relevant, sometimes more than others of course. In most cases we are seeing history being repeated, so it is most relevant.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cost of Intolerance is too High.

REPOSTED from 12-31-2005

[Indianapolis Star, Tom Ehrich 2006]jimmyc

If I listened to how others define Christian identity, I could never receive Holy Communion at a Roman Catholic altar, feel at home in half the Anglican Communion, feel loved by God without changing political parties, or expect to fly away during the Rapture.
     In fact, by the time I was cast adrift by all those who fight culture wars , political wars, ethical wars and theological wars by banishing others from the Christian fold, I would find myself on a small island with a handful of like minded exiles.
     Who would my fellow misfits be?  Middle aged white males who play golf, drive sports cars, mow grass, vote for liberals, pray in the morning, question tradition and drink caffeinated coffee?  Sounds a might narrow to me.
     I would miss the rest of the rainbow, even those whose views I find annoying.  They might even miss me.

     After all, knowing begins in the discovery of not knowing, and if development is fundamentally dialectical -we grow by grappling with opposites- and if God made us different for a reason, and if faith is a journey to a new land -as it was for Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul and all those in whose names we argue so righteously- standing proudly still among the select will make one stupid, immature, rigid, and self-serving.  Not to mention blind and lonely.
     So let's not drum each other out of the Christian movement.  I doubt that God is displeased by our diversity or surprised by our missing the mark.
     If we must disagree -and I believe we must, for how else will we learn anything?- let's disagree by listening as well as speaking, by honoring as well as disputing.  More "Ahas" of discovery, fewer shouts of triumph.  More singing of hymns, less voting on exclusionary rules.  More questions, less certainty.
     After all, Zacchaeus didn't cease to be a "son of Abraham" just because he chose an occupation disliked by the righteous.  The promise to Abraham remained open to Zacchaeus even when he strayed from the grumblers' preferred path.  Jesus expected Zacchaeus to be transformed.  But transformation was a consequence of God's love, not an entrance requirement.

Christians don't have much experience in being open-minded.  In our  predisposition to judge each other -sort, sift, label, dismiss- we conclude that some are beyond reach, some are dangerous and shouldn't be allowed indoors, and some will spend eternity wishing they had been more like us.  Such attitudes make us blight.
     It is time we did better.  As we should have learned in this years dreadful presidential campaign, as well as in denominational paralysis and in bodies being turned into bombs, the cost of religious intolerance has gotten too high.
     Politicians who wrap themselves in religious certainty are frightening.  Clerics who conflate faith, patriotism and their narrow opinions into a single formula for victory are no less frightening.
     It is time to ratchet down the invective.  We have played with fire -demonizing our political opponents, introducing religious imperatives into civic discourse, confusing cultural developments with divine plans- and we are getting burned, to the point that many simply cannot imagine God as caring for entire categories of humanity.
     That might be a comforting depiction of a sides-taking, exclusionary God, but it is profoundly at odds with the Gospel.

It is time we saw ourselves as God sees us, as something more akin to a Grand Central Station, with many doors in and many trains onward; or a house with many rooms, a city with many houses, a land with many cities, a planet with many lands, a universe stretching beyond anything we can comprehend.


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