Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sick of This Fruit

I’m sick from this American Christian fruit I’ve eaten for too long.

At first it looked enticing, offering some vague form of freedom and happiness if only I admit my own failure as a human being and submit to a deity who finds me offensive enough to kill, even though I’m supposedly made in its image. But because this god chooses not to kill me, I should be grateful and full of praise, overflowing with love. Like other-worldly Stockholm Syndrome, I’m expected to fall in love with a terrorist.

It made sense to point out the inconsistency in others, to support policies that upheld a squeaky clean presentation of Western privilege, to side with the majority of American Christians and say who is right and who is wrong based on everything except relationships and dialogue. It made sense to tell people “the truth in love” because loving meant telling the “other” how terrible they were so they could fix themselves, because I was the bearer of the only perspective that mattered. MY interpretation of an ancient text was the correct one. What I understood from my middle class, white American perspective was reality, no matter how different anyone else’s life or upbringing had been. We’re all equal, right? We’ve all had the same experiences, right? Therefore, everyone should agree with me because I am in the class of people who make the rules.

This is the American Christianity that would rather pull food out of hungry children’s mouths than allow an organization to stop discriminating against same sex couples. This is the Christianity that separates, divides, and builds walls. This is the Christianity that says, “You are wrong,” to anyone who doesn’t express their beliefs in exactly the same way as they do, without opening a dialogue, without listening to the other’s point of view without making assumptions or revving up an argument in their head. This is the Christianity that shames Jesus and makes the Pharisees look good.

As I choke on the bitter fruit of this American Evangelicalism culture, I eagerly seek for anything that can help me, anything that can remind me of something good within this ugliness. A reason to hang on.

I look through my inbox, reading through the blogs fromChristina Cleveland who seeks racial reconciliation, helping people to listen to others instead of box them up.

I read the updates from Marty Troyer whose Houston Mennonite Church seeks dialogue and understanding with oppressed and marginalized groups.

I read Jim Palmer’s blogs that remind me of the Divine within me and all around me that is Love.

I read Rachel Held Evans' plea for American Christians to look beyond theology and “correct” thinking, and engage with real people with real experiences.

I read insight and love from Justin Lee, a gay Christian man who, for one reasons or another, has not rejected Christianity despite the hate slung at him on a daily basis.

I listen to the realities of everyday folks who feel the sting of American Christianity's rejection, and the love of a Divine presence that is so much bigger.

I have to look for the people who are doing real reconciliation work instead of those who are only trying to defend their way of thinking and believing and trying to get others to conform.

I have to look at the people in my intentional community, people who disagree on every point from theology to house cleaning, people who are willing to live together, respect one another, listen to one another, and love one another despite all their differences.

I have to look at my own friends who have not abandoned me because my theology differs from theirs.

I have to look to the explanations of Christianity from the perspective of the oppressed, marginalized, and economically disadvantaged to remember that Christianity is not about the rich and powerful, it is not about who can yell the loudest and use their financial privilege as leverage, it is not about right theology, it is not about a belief system. It is about a life of radical inclusive love that leaves no one rejected.

Western Christianity rejects. Love embraces.

I end with a quote from Life of Pi by Yan Martel that my roommate read for our devotionals this morning:

“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, "Business as usual." But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.

These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defense, not God's, that the self-righteous should rush.”

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