October 2008


There is a trend among some Christians that I would like to bounce of you.  

Some churches, having heard and acknowledged that the capital-c Church has done many “unChristian” things over the centuries (and today), have taken to apologizing for current and past sins that have been committed in the name of Jesus. From hypocrisy to slavery to poor treatment of homosexuals to the Inquisition, supporters of this trend believe that it is important to take responsibility for these warts on the nose of their faith in hope that it will lead to healing and, potentially, reconciliation.

Others feel that apologizing is either not warranted (since they were not directly involved in these actions) or that, since direct amends cannot be made, the apologies could appear to be pandering rather than a genuine desire for reconciliation. 

I believe an argument could be made in either direction.  

That is why I thought I would take the question outside of Christian circles and ask the people who would would be receiving the apologies…people who feel like they have been hurt by Christianity or the church.

If that is you, I would love to hear from you. Specifically, I’d love to know:

  • What happened?
  • How did you respond?
  • How did the church/Christian in question respond?
  • How would you feel if you got an apology from the person/church that perpetrated the “wrong.”
  • How would you feel if a Christian who had nothing to do with it apologized to you?

Hope to hear from you.

Joan 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not giving up on the Church… 

Despite some unfortunate evidence to the contrary, I believe that the church can be a place where broken and hurting people of all stripes can go to find Jesus shared and reflected in the lives of leaders and members.  I believe that it can be a sanctuary where poor, struggling, addicted, mentally ill, self-harming, harsh and hard-to-love people can mingle with and be supported by people who are wealthy or stable or sober or emotionally healthy and peaceful without feeling judged or unwelcome. I believe that Christians of different ages and backgrounds and interests can worship together out of respect for one another and Christ’s call to unity, sustaining the whole by putting the needs of others ahead of personal comfort, preference or ambition. And I believe that the core teachings of the faith—even the controversial or hard-to-swallow ones–can touch people without being watered down or hidden from view when they are delivered with love and compassion.

Since becoming a Christian in 2003 I have sought to find this kind of Church.

In some ways I feel like Goldilocks of Christianity. There I was lost in the woods without knowing it and I come upon a lovely house. 

Sanctuary.  Safety.

I walk though the door naïve and hopeful, only to find dozens of diverging choices, approaches and versions of what it really means to be a Christian or how one is really supposed to follow Jesus.

So I try a one church… too hot.

And another…too cold.

Searching for, but not finding, the elusive just right…

I hoped to land in that one community of people with the right approach with whom I could settle-in and ignore (or criticize) the‘other ones’ who clearly have it wrong. Regrettably, this approach assumes that it is possible (or advisable) for me to become part of “a church” and divorce myself from “the church.” 

I wish I had simplistic “how-to” list to encapsulate how I turned it around, but this is not a challenge with a single pole solution.  And, if it were, it is pretty unlikely that the big answer would come from the pen of this New Age seeker, turned atheist, turned agnostic, turned Christian.  No, I am not suggesting that I have the solution. I’m just hoping that we can do our best to remember that the Church is a family, whether we like it or not.

 Because really…who wants to step out of the woods straight into a big dysfunctional family?

Both of my parents died six months ago. It was April.  My mom from cancer that she’d been battling for a couple of years. My father from a stroke that took him in 5 days.  He went first.  Twenty—or was is 22—days before his wife of 46 years.  They were young by today’s standards.  Sixty-five and Sixty-seven. 

I’ve cried a few times.  Quickly.  Quietly.  Willing but not quite able to muster the turning-the-corner-into-anger sort of tears that would signal my official descent into the widely accepted stages of grief. 

I’ve purposely not spent too much time reacquainting myself with the stages of grief.  Rather than stack the deck against myself by the power of suggestion, I figured I’d allow the emotions and memories to gather together like raindrops on windowpane, linking together slowly, one by one, until their combined weight was enough to draw them downward.

Then, earlier this week, I started to see my parents everywhere.  “Doesn’t Sarah Palin look a little bit like my mother when she was younger?” I asked my husband.  He did his best to mask the not-really tone in his voice “Well…maybe a little.”

Drip.

Walking down the street toward my favorite writing café, I saw a man in the distance that I could swear was my dad.  He wore a baseball cap over his blonde-gray hair and had his hands in the pockets of a Members Only-style baseball jacket.  There was something in his slightly curved posture and sporty white sneakers that brought him home for a moment. But only for a moment.

Drip.

When I found myself in a state of unsettled sensory-overload last night, I figured I was just tired.  I’ve been staying up too late and I teach early on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I figured I just needed a good night’s sleep.

Drip.

Then I started to snap at my husband and the drummer for our band because they were having trouble nailing a rhythm.

Drip.

And today I find myself wearing this kind of free-floating anger-at-everything-and-nothing-at-once like a heavy, scratchy and damp wool blanket.  I am not fighting it.  I am confident that this anger will weave its way toward acceptance in time.  All I can do is pray for strength and do my best to be loving toward the people while I make my way through what I know is a painful but healthy process of gathering them close so I can let them go.   

Whoosh…