Monday, March 11, 2013

The Story In Which We Find Ourselves

I am changing the way I speak about important life matters.  For instance, the word Christian no longer works for me.  I feel almost apologetic to a lot of dear friends who still identify as such.  But that once noble, albeit controversial, name has hit upon hard times.  The majority of images that course all the way from the Vatican to mega-churches to religious TV programming and media expression to the mean-spirited attitudes and actions of so many is something I can no longer abide.  If those images are really what it means to be Christian, then I don't want to be one.  So, how do I call myself?  Not really sure yet.  Maybe "follower" or "seeker" of the "wisdom teachings of Jesus."  Pretty cumbersome I know.  But such will have to work as my self-identification for now and until I can find a better way.

The word "church" no longer has any appeal either.  The same arguement used above applies here also.  If the contemporary expression is supposed to describe what an ancient call to be the people of God was about, then I have to remove myself and find another way.  Church has been and continues to be corrupted from any original intention.  What we see in so many quarters now is not what was desired by the Galilean peasant whose body it is supposed to be.  "Community of Faith" has been suggested by some folk that I know and trust and, at least for now, that designation works for me.  We are a folk journeying together, sharing something of life in common, and struggling to understand better what a faith response is to be.  I realize it all sounds so laborious.  But I am a part of a group that loves each other, accepts each other regardless, and finds in our midst a sense of joy.

So how might I put this connection between follower and community together.  I am urging my community to think of it all in terms of a story.  Paraphrasing Brian McLaren, our life together becomes "the story in which we find ourselves."  We are a part of a different story.  Always has been, and will always march to a different beat.  It is a radical, some think very strange, kind of story.  Although it rubs shoulders with other stories, it is not what we generally see going on around us.  It is not the american dream with a religious twist.  It is not conventional wisdom wherein anybody with any sense at all should understand.  It is not a national or denominational or creedal or racist or sexist or straight or class or capitalist or power story, although its design is to touch all these matters in a transformative way.  It is a different story.

So I am going to start trying to demonstrate more of my understanding by how I phrase my conversation.  I am a follower or seeker.  I  want to understand what Jesus taught and what he was about.  I want to grasp his wisdom.  I do so in a community enhanced by feeble faith.  And I want to constantly remind that those of us who give ourselves to this way are part of a different story.


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