Thursday, November 30, 2006

A generous heterodoxy

Just caught this in the combox of a recent post:

Gentle_Savior,

For the record, I don't claim to know if Mormons are saved or not. I don't know enough, and am not an authority on the subject. I love and respect my Mormon friends, even though I think they are seriously mistaken on many issues. My Mormon friends think I'm similarly mistaken, and love me right back, all the same. We are on equal footing in that regard.

-Touchstone


And:

Gentle_Savior said:

touchstone,

thank you for your kind words.

I love when people can find common ground, and take joy in our Savior, rather than incite hate and other bad feelings, simply because people think differently on things.


Aw, shucks! These guys sure are right.

Just because we think differently on a few things -- such as God, creation, sin, heaven, hell, and salvation -- is no need to start arguing over them.

Instead, what the world needs now is love -- sweet love! It's the only thing that there's just too little of.

And no, not just for some, but for everyone.

You know, it's quite intolerant for anyone to think otherwise. And intolerant people are just mean! Nasty. Especially those -- *grrr* I get so mad just thinking about it! *argh* -- those... those... those no good, dirty Bible-believing, fundy Christians from Hicksville who probably voted for an ignoramus like Bush in the last election!

On the other hand, if you are a Christian but don't really believe in the Bible -- like, if you're willing to ignore the miraculous parts -- or only believe in the parts you want to believe in, and for example allegorize the other bits, then you're cool. If you were a movie, Ebert would give you a big ole thumb's up. Keep up the good work.

If you're not that sort of Christian, sorry to break it to you, but you must change or die. Yup, that's right. Progress is the only way forward. Those who do not move ahead, fall behind. Or at least stand still. Or something like that.

Yeah. So. Anyway.

What we need is to love one another and not judge one another. What we need is to judge one another but in a nice way. What we need is to judge one another in a nice way, which means if you disagree with me here, then you're plain stupid and immoral!

Napoleon Dynamite would call you a freakin' idiot.

Also, about the whole truth thing. Who are you to say you know what "the truth" is, huh?! That in itself is the height of arrogance.

Sure, I don't deny there is truth or at least a truth or at least various truths which are all equally true. It's the whole "we'll all reach the top of the mountain even though we're climbing up from different sides of it" thing, you know. But what I do deny is that you have a monopoly on the truth.

Or even that the truth is somehow within your ability to grasp. Or understand. Or comprehend. Or whatever other synonyms I can find in the thesaurus.

News flash: It ain't.

News flash: You don't know everything.

News flash: Change the channel.

Because if you say you know the truth, then, well, that just ain't right! Ain't no one got a corner on the truth. What's true for you may not be true for me. And what's true for me may not be true for you.

It's all about perspective, you see. You -- we -- just need a bigger perspective.

But no one can have such a perspective. Only God can. Only God can have a bird's eye view of all things. So unless you're God, you just don't know. You don't know what you're talking about. You don't know nothin', son.

Oh, so you say you have evidence? Facts? Figures? Rational arguments?

Well, let me tell you something, mister, you can have all the evidence you want, but it won't be enough.

Why not?

First, because how do you know future evidence won't disprove current evidence.

And second, well, anyone can prove anything with the evidence.

So there. I win. Again.

I know you probably don't get it. But it's a whole Zen thing: "Bodhisattavas never engage in conversations whose resolutions depend on words and logic."

What do we make of the Bible then?

Like I said, if you read the Bible, that's cool. More power to you. After all, so many classics of literature were inspired by it. The Bible is a terrific read as literature.

Just be careful about actually believing it and trying to live by it. That'll get you into hot water.

I mean, you don't want to become one of those fundy hicks I mentioned above. Stuck in their own little world. Going 'round and 'round on the merry-go-round of ignorance and intolerance. Modern day Puritans. Grim faces, dour demeanors. Jonathan Edwards and his "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" foolishness. The whole nine yards.

Best watch out or they'll shoot you down in cold blood with their muskets. That's right. Those card-carrying members of the NRA have no feelings.

They've all been brainwashed, too. Believe Adam and Eve rode a brontosaurus to the edge of the earth when it was still flat. Which would've been before God banished the 10 lost tribes to Mars.

They all talk the same. Use those secret "Christian" words that outsiders don't quite get. Smile at each other knowingly from time to time. Like they're in on some joke you're not.

They all dress the same, too. Pretty Sunday dresses for the ladies and tacky suits for the gents. And notice their shiny belt buckles and black boots. It's part of some sort of a *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* shared Christian club secret. Say no more, say no more.

We're all left behind as far as the inner workings of these Bible belt believers goes, but they're all left behind as far as the important things in life go -- friends and family, a sense of community, love and respect for another, etc.

And of course, the truth.

Ah, the truth.

We know the truth, they don't. Actually, let me rephrase that. We know enough about the truth to know there is no truth, or to know that no one can arrive at the truth in any absolute sense, but they don't.

Ain't that the truth.

Again, it's fine to read the Bible as literature.

It's even fine to read it as conveying certain morals conducive to the educated modern person.

But know your limits. The Bible is not to be read as a science textbook. Or a history textbook. Or a music textbook. Or a calculus textbook. Or a medical textbook. Or any other textbook. Except for a literature textbook. That's the only one that's legit.

So read the Bible as an evolving story. Draw deep from the well of the Bible. Take its stories as your own.

Renew yourself in this way. Reform yourself. Revolutionize yourself.

But don't rebel against yourself. Don't go crazy, man! What I mean is, don't do these things at the cost of not being yourself. Rather be yourself. Let your individuality flower. The sky's the limit.

Above all be genuine, authentic, true to the grander themes of the Bible. Don't nitpick about words and definitions. Don't get bogged down in exegesis.

Throw off the chains of the past. Throw off the shackles of creeds and confessions and catechisms and the like. Free yourself from the historical "traditions" of Christianity, which have only weighed it down through the ages.

Indeed, what we need today is a new, modern day Reformation. One not based on divisive things such as reason and doctrine, but one based on love and understanding.

So, please, don't be confined to antiquated, reductionistic, systematic theology. Don't try to wrap your mind around the Bible. It can't be done. The Bible's story and message is bigger than you are. You are only part of the story.

Only let the theme of love steer your ship to its golden shores. From the Grey Havens to the Undying Lands. Only then shall your ship dock safely in the harbor.

For is it not true that all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved? Certainly that's the case. Since Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and heck, even sailors brawling in a pub have called on the name of the Lord in some way, who are we to exclude them? They wouldn't exclude us. (Except for maybe the sailors. But we wouldn't want them anyway. Chauvinistic pigs.) They would include us. Hence we should include them. It's a compassionate Christianity. In other words, let us love them as they love us. For we are on equal footing in that regard.

And bring in the sheep. That's what's important. That's what's most important. Bring in others. Share the story of Jesus Christ with them. Bring the conversation to them.

(Especially to those who were victims of 19th century European colonialism and 20th century American imperialism. These are perhaps the ones who most desperately need to hear a lovely little story about a kind, good-natured man with a big heart named Jesus.)

Be the change you want to see in the world.

And remember: It's all about love.

15 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. Although I sense the sarcasm at times, I think a lot of what you said makes sense.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When did Patrick Chan become a T-blogger? Did I miss something?

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  3. SNORT. CHORTLE. It's enough to make one a non-theistic theist!

    (LOL....my word verification was "z daft oy" Coincidence?)

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  4. "We know the truth, they don't. Actually, let me rephrase that. We know enough about the truth to know there is no truth, or to know that no one can arrive at the truth in any absolute sense, but they don't.

    Ain't that the truth."

    That HAS to be the best part of the whole thing :)

    Welcome to Triablogue, Patrick!

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  5. "Welcome to Triablogue, Patrick!

    Just what Triablogue needed... another apostle of polemic shtick!

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  6. "Although I sense the sarcasm at times, I think a lot of what you said makes sense."

    I think the meaning of the post was lost on someone...

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  7. Naomi:
    ---
    I think the meaning of the post was lost on someone...
    ---

    I don't know what's scarier: A) the fact that gentle proves the post correct; or B) the fact that gentle missed A).

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  8. Wow...I have never laughed harder than seeing the very first comment. "I sense sarcasm at times."

    Gee, ya think...?

    Sorry that wasn't loving...

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  9. "Although I sense the sarcasm at times"

    I'm so glad I noticed gentle_savior's post.

    At first I thought "Sarcasm?!! What could he possibly be talking abou.... hang on a second...maybe he's on to something..."

    I then reread Patrick's post, and it had a completely different meaning to what I originally thought. Great spot, sg, I'd have never noticed that myself. And as for Patrick, please could you make things a bit simpler, we're not ALL masters of the ironic!

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  10. gentle_savior12/02/2006 8:32 AM

    I discern a spirit of mocking here. The Spirit has given me a word of knowledge about such as you...I will wash my hands of this dirty blog, and found safer pastures in which to graze.

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  11. Heterodoxy usually is safer in certain senses, Gentle_Savior. From your blog, I'd say that, if any "god" spoke to you, it wasn't the God of Scripture--which contradicts your own assertions.

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  12. Gentle Savior.
    Please don't capitalize the word "spirit" when you speak of it, as the Holy Spirit would never call a Mormon our brother, you might have a spirit speaking to you but it is not the Holy Spirit.

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  13. "And intolerant people are just mean! Nasty. Especially those -- *grrr* I get so mad just thinking about it! *argh* -- those... those... those no good, dirty Bible-believing, fundy Christians from Hicksville who probably voted for an ignoramus like Bush in the last election!"

    Do you realize how radically intolerant of "intolerant people" you just were...could you just listen to your own inconsistency? Apparently your own creed is not tolerance and love, rather it is just a denial of what a certain other point of view claims...you seem to hate them as much as they might hate you...

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  14. "Oh, so you say you have evidence? Facts? Figures? Rational arguments?

    Well, let me tell you something, mister, you can have all the evidence you want, but it won't be enough.

    Why not?

    First, because how do you know future evidence won't disprove current evidence.

    And second, well, anyone can prove anything with the evidence."


    I just wanted to point out that here, you are using a rational argument to prove that rational arguments should not be used...

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  15. lol apparently I missed the sarcasm cause i didn't read the whole thing. Hey...at least I helped show the problem!

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