On Capitalism and the Violence Inherent In the System
Nov 27th, 2007 by Sonja

This is one of my very favorite movie clips of all time. I absolutely love this bit from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. It has so much texture and it’s funny to boot. It never fails to get me laughing. Never. Even though I can just about recite it from memory. But watch … then we’ll talk.

So I was reading over at Bill Kinnon’s the other day about the latest irony in Christendom. I guess Brian McLaren is decrying consumerism by asking folks to buy his books and CDs. Kinda funny, no? Not funny, haha, but funny weird as my Grampy O would say. Yeah, it’s ironic and sorta sad. But Brian is just doing his schtick. He’s gotta make money too, ya know. We all havta make money.

Someone wrote a fairly insightful comment at Bill’s and it got me thinking. Here’s the bit that sparked my brain, but you should read the rest at Bill’s place:

I question our use of a system that is biased towards marketability regardless of quality. This creates a profit oriented motive to do “ministry” and fosters the growth of dubious theology. It entices people to compromise on their values and principles to get better sales and/or increase marketability.

I question whether the growing trend towards fee-for-service ministry is appropriate because it shuts out the poor. One of the marks of the messiah that Jesus shared with the followers of John the Baptist was that the gospel is proclaimed to the poor. — Leighton Tebay

This idea is not fully fleshed out yet, so please bear with me. But my thinking is that we poor humans have absolutely no idea of what to do with an infinite God. In this capitalist age, we are less equipped than ever. In the days when faith reigned supreme we had a chance, but now in the age of reason we are handicapped, stunted and miserly in our perspectives on God and His provisions.

We start young. We begin as children, competing for the attention of our parents. Various behavioral issues are seen as efforts to compete for a limited resource (our parent’s time and attention). It continues even more voraciously in our public schools with 20 or more children in a classroom competing for the limited resources of the school system. Most obviously they compete for the time and attention of the teacher on a daily basis. Life becomes a zero-sum game. And all of us learn how to play it quite young. In places that we’d never suspect it we begin to assign winners and losers in the crevices of our minds. We understand that in an environment of limited resources, we are responsible for grabbing all that we can for ourselves. God helps those who help themselves, right? It’s in the Bible somewhere. And no one wants to be stamped with the scarlet “L” for Loser. Because losers don’t get any of those scarce resources … whatever those resources might be.

Can you hear the violence inherent that system? In such a system we must constantly be at war with one another. True love is not entirely possible, because we must also compete with each other for limited resources. Thus, even while we know that commercialism is wrong, we might tell each other of it in the same breath as asking for increased sales of our books and cds. While this makes no logical sense, it does within the context of our socio-economic system.

There is, however, a better way.  God spoke of it when He revealed himself to us in his human form.  It involves laying aside our limited ideas of wealth, self-care, and resources.  It involves relying on the infinite and becoming careless and carefree.  All of this appears silly and we will become losers in the zero-sum game of capitalism.  But for an infinite God with infinite resources, with whom we do not have to compete for His attention.

No, I have no idea what this looks like.  I’m still thinking about it.  If any of you have some ideas … please put them in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

Call Him Good …
Nov 8th, 2007 by Sonja

I had a car full o’kids today. We were running errands. For a time I was able to listen to their music, but after a while I cried, “Uncle,” and put my music on. I have my own playlist on the car iPod and I switched it over. The volume gets turned down because nobody likes my music except, oh, me! But nobody is listening to it anyway. So they were all chattering away and I was listening to my music as we ran our errands. The last of which was to pass through Chick-fil-a for lunch. I turned the music off to take orders and then give the order to the name-less, face-less screen at the drive through.

I passed out drinks, took the bag of chicken and fries from the kind lady at the window and drove away. Then I turned the music back on. As the song hit their ears, I heard LightBoy say, “This sounds like a song from Bible school.” So I listened in to the conversation that ensued.  The players were the FlamingLambs1, 2 and 3, LightBoy and LightGirl.  The song is entitled “Call Him Good” by Sandra McCracken.  It’s heavy on the chorus which is sung “Call Him good my soul” in harmony.  It’s really beautiful and vaguely Celtic, which is probably why it sings into my soul so deeply.  But the conversation around the song was interesting.  The kids weren’t buying it.

To them it sounded like a garden variety “church” song.  They’ve become cynical.  It was for “Bible” camp.  “We went to one of those one time.”  “Yeah, we go to that when we visit my Grammy,” replied one FlamingLamb.  The highlight seemed to be the candy.  They definitely associated the Bible and the education involved with church and rules … but the weird thing was that God and Jesus never entered the conversation.  Huh?  Now we’ve all been out of church proper for several months, and out of the institutional church for a couple of years, but they’d all done some serious time in Children’s Church and Sunday School before we left.  So this omission surprised me.  Despite all the good teaching and heartfelt teachers, they’d missed the main point.

Which begs the question, just what good is all that children’s ministry anyway?  I think I prefer the simplicity of the formula given by Deuteronomy 6 …

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.   Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

On Snowballs and Myths
Nov 6th, 2007 by Sonja

Today has not been good. Okay, several days in a row have not been good.

No … it’s the whole damn year. As I wrote in an e-mail to a friend earlier today:

2007 – the year which sucketh mightily for all of us.

All of us was referring to a small group of friends. It’s been bad all around for all of us. I cannot reveal details here. But suffice it to say that I feel like Sisyphus of Greek legend. Only I’m not pushing a boulder up hill … I’m pushing a snowball. And every night when it rolls down hill, it picks up crap, as in manure, as in sh!t. So I’m pushing a crap covered snowball back up hill. It’s useless, tragic, powerless, endless work.

Speaking of myths, today is election day in Virginia, as elsewhere around the country. What a stupid myth. As if my vote counts for anything. I’ll go vote. But it won’t do a damn bit of good. Of all the lies I was told in school, that’s the one I despise the most. The lie that I count for something here in this country. But we don’t. The fat cats and big wigs are pulling the strings. The little guy is just a cog in the machine.

Happy election day.

Yeah … I’m bitter and dis-illusioned. It’s a good thing I’m not depending on the things of this world for salvation. I’d be in a heap of trouble if I were. God forgive us.

I Voted

UPDATE: I did vote … at 5:30, so, yes, Will Samson, I can complain. I did show up.  Not that it will change anything.  What I most want to change is the atmosphere of fear.  No politician can change that.  So I guess a vote is meaningless anyway.

All Hallows Scene
Nov 1st, 2007 by Sonja

As noted previously, LightGirl had hockey practice on Halloween evening.  So she and I participated in a long standing tradition.

We drove through a local Chic-fil-a for dinner on our way to practice.  She got a sandwich, fries and a lemonade.  I got a chargrilled wrap and a rootbeer.

Now it so happens that as one drives out of the drive through slot of this Chic-fil-a one is catty corner to the end of a strip mall, the tail of which is a Panera.  Standing on the corner as we drove out yesterday evening were three older teens … maybe even pushing 20.  They were dressed for the evening … in costume.

“Hey, Mom, look.  There’s an angel and a devil and Jesus on the corner by Panera.  And look!  That’s really funny.  Jesus is smoking.”

“Well, how do you know that’s Jesus?”

“I don’t know Mom, but I think the crown of thorns gives it away, don’t you?”

“Yes, yes I do.”

Jesus smoking on a street corner on Halloween.

So, what better place for Him to be?

Women Are the New Women
Oct 19th, 2007 by Sonja

I’m not quite certain how to begin this post. It’s been fomenting for a while now. There were posts by Makeesha and Julie earlier this week that fed it. Then Bro. M. posted on EMasculinity yesterday, quite independently of Mak and Julie. I know it was independently because he’s at a Missional Order Gathering in Washington this week and had pre-loaded his posts. So … it just so happened.

Then there was the piece d’ resistance … photos of the Missional Order Gathering sponsored (I believe) by Allelon in Washington posted by Rick (Blind Beggar) Meigs. Shock and awe at the length of Bro. M.’s hair!! I’m still trying to put that first photo in perspective … because my mental picture of Bro. M. does not look like this. And I’m jealous of his hair. Whenever I grow my hair out that long it gives me headaches because it gets so heavy 😀 So I gave up years ago and keep it short and sassy … the sassy part is to go with my personality.

In any case, Rick mentioned that there were only “four or so women” at the conference. I spluttered and squawked in his comments (and later apologized). FOUR??!!!! Peggy updated that to six, but noted that since every woman is worth 2 or 3 men things were probably more or less equal since there were only 41 total people at the gathering. I like Peggy’s math ;-).

A number of years ago (maybe five or six or more), LightHusband was involved in the Wild At Heart, er, movement (not sure what to call it). He went to one of their conferences and read the book. I read it too. I guess if you take all that stuff out to the n’th degree it’s really nauseating … and it is. But there was also a lot there to value and at the time in our lives when we experienced it, there was a lot there that was really freeing too. To keep it simple, we ate the meat and spat out the bones (and there were many). This was not an ideology that we camped out on for long.

However, there were some meaty things that we both took away from it. One thing is this. Men (and yes, I’m generalizing here … not every man does this, but many men do, so bear with me here, okay?) in general, are protectors and defenders. Women, in general, respond well to this. Now … before you get all up in my face … keep reading, because I do NOT mean this in the traditional sense. I can best describe this by how it has worked out in my marriage. There are a few of you who have met me and LightHusband and we’re not what many would describe as traditional. But … he does protect and defend me. What I mean by that is this, he protects my space and my needs. He looks out for me and feels that his role in our marriage is to create space where I can flourish and grow. Now, I have that role as well to a certain extent but not in quite the same manner. I support and guide his heart in a fashion that is more feminine, but if you were to look at the “jobs” we do in the home they are often reversed.

I’m bringing this up because I think that the men who are in and of the emerging conversation have an important job to do now. Many of them have said that they value women more than their counterparts in the institutional church. But it is becoming imperative that they guard and protect those women. By this I mean that those men need to not just say the words that women are their equal, but they need to create space for women to flourish and grow. This is going to mean looking at the conferences that are planned and thinking about things such as childcare both at the conference and back at home, and when the conference is planned, where it’s planned, how much it costs … per person, and per couple, and per family, what are travel costs, etc. How many women leaders vs. men leaders are involved? It might also mean stepping back to allow a woman to take the stage or the spotlight.

More important than any of the above questions it will mean looking at women culturally to see how to include them. Women *are* different from men. We have been socialized differently. We respond to “open invitations” differently. It was pointed out in the conversation over at Rick’s blog that the Allelon conference was open to anyone who wanted to come. Yet as I reflect on the literature that was available for that conference and how women respond to those and how men do … it is very different. Women do need more of an invitation, especially in the church, they need to feel that they are indeed included and welcomed. For a woman to just “invite herself” to such an event goes against all the social norms we have been taught about being a “good girl.” Or to invite herself to participate in many of the group efforts going on is simply not done. It’s very, very difficult to overcome those social rules taught when we’re very young.

On the flip side, women are going to have to meet the men at least half way. I don’t know what any of this is going to look like. But I do know that we’re all going to be in uncharted territory. I also know that it’s terribly terribly important to the Kingdom that we’re able to represent it with a gender balanced view of who God is and we cannot do that with only one gender.

Oct 9th, 2007 by Sonja

… or how Christians have gotten it wrong lately.

I was tagged by Julie (who was tagged by the eminent Bro. M.) in a new meme, based upon the book, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters. For some good thinking on the book and the meme, you should go to Bro.M’s post … he’s very thorough. Much more so than I.

Here is the gist of it … as few as 10 years ago Christianity had a good name. Now, not so much. For the meme we are to list three negatives of the Christian religion that is all too prevalent and then 1 positive of the faith that we wish were more abundant.

Negatives …

Christians are cherry-pickers. They pick and choose which parts of the Bible they’re going to pay attention to on any given day of the week. Ferinstance, they’re all for the right to life. When it’s in the womb. Once you’re out and breathing though, by god, you’d better take care of yourself. Welfare is for slackers and lie-a-beds. You want to kill all the killers too. Nuke the towelheads. The death penalty is our God-given right. There are consequences to sin and you’d better be prepared to pay ’em in this life and in the next.

138 - ASBO Jesus

Christians are always right and Right. Jesus is a Republican. Or he would be if were here today. Your salvation is in question if you vote Democrat. No lie. Christians should be involved in politics as long as those politics are conservative … make that reactionary. And you should always have an answer that is right, as in correct. Be able to answer every question, even those that are never asked. When you’re always right, no one can ever question you. Nice place to be, yeah? No conversation there …

Christians like to live in ivory towers, closeted away from the stains of the world. They listen to “Godly” music. They raise “Godly” children. They have “Godly” chatchkes. They have “Godly” friends. Their children marry “Godly” spouses. Can someone tell me what that means? Everything is carefully controlled and contrived. They have Harvest parties so their children won’t be tainted by Halloween … but it all looks the same, it just has a different name. We’re just fooling ourselves.

Here’s what I think … I think the three things I mentioned above stem from one thing. Fear. And Jesus came to set us free from fear. So here’s what I wish I would see in the Christian faith more abundantly … freedom.

I would love to see Christians living freely. Giving freely. Living with open hands in a closed fisted world. I would love to see those of us follow Jesus living in His freedom … smiling, laughing, dancing, giving, loving, and living openly, honestly. Being who we are without masks. Being Jesus to a frightened world. Imagine that for a moment. What a wonderful world it would be …

I’d love to hear the thoughts of Bill Kinnon, Erin Word, David Fisher, and Kay Paris on this subject.

Men and Women
Oct 8th, 2007 by Sonja

Yesterday was hockey, hockey and more hockey.

Lightboy had practice from 7:20 to 8:50 a.m. at our home rink. Meanwhile LightGirl had a game that she needed to be at by 9:40 that was almost 2 hours away. Her team was playing a team that was 2 years older, but they had alluded to the fact that they would bench their older players and play some younger developmental players for this game.

Coach WonderWoman

I may have mentioned here that CoachWonderWoman is about the only woman coach that we face, she is certainly the only woman coach in our club. Her coaching style is different from the teams which we face each week. I’m never certain if this is her personal style or if it is in part based upon her gender. Yesterday, I discovered that at least some of the difference is gender.

I may have mentioned that this year I am the team manager for LightGirl’s hockey team. I’m enjoying this role thus far. It doesn’t require too much of me and I get to do some different things that I sorta like. One thing that I’m ambivalent about is that I see more e-mail traffic about scheduling games than the average parent. I don’t know that I need to see this traffic, but I do. In the case of the game we played this past Sunday, it was alluded to by the opposing coach that he would pull back his older, more experienced players for this (non-league) game. It would be a chance for both teams to get some competitive experience without the pressure of league play. All was good.

Our team is significantly smaller (in terms of numbers) than the other team. We had 10 or 11 players there and they had at least 15. This means that we only had 2 full lines and they had at least three. They were able to rotate more players on the ice than we could. I saw a bunch of their players before hand. Now … remember I’ve spent significant years in youth ministry. I know how girls faces and bodies mature. Many of these girls were not under 14. There were at least 5 of them who were nearly capable of driving themselves to the rink.

But … their coach was restrained. For the first two periods. He mixed things up and kept his less mature players on the ice with the more mature players. He did this for a long time. Until it became apparent that doing this might cost him the game.


All bets were off. He put his best players on a line together and kept them out on the ice for a good long while. His rastafarian hat that one of his players had dared him to wear, came off. He paced the bench. Things looked bleak for our team. But, CoachWonderWoman and AssistantCoachSuperMan never shifted gears. They continued in the same vein and told our girls to keep their wits about them and do their best. It turned out that their best was indeed good enough. They won the game!! 8 to 7. And one of those goals belonged to LightGirl.

It got me thinking, though, about the differences between men and women. Men and women process these sorts of things very differently. They *see* the playing field differently. Men have a deep-seated need to win … at all costs. To women it’s more important to play the game well and fairly AND win. How we play the game is at least as important as winning. Men seem to find winning the sole factor in the game.

I pulled back a little further and now I’m thinking about how this plays out in our culture and more importantly in church. In our male dominated culture and especially the male dominated church, where gamesmanship and winning become the goal of an institution (even when it’s unstated and underground) I think that is how we have come to have these huge megachurches and ministries that “win” more souls than the church around the corner each week.

This is why it’s so important to have both men and women equally involved in leadership … in church and in life.  It’s not just winning.  It’s how you play the game.

Heathens and Pagans and Witches … oh my! (September Synchroblog)
Sep 25th, 2007 by Sonja

Fear of Hell

In the movie, the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy has quite a bit to overcome. She is dropped into a strange land, with even stranger occupants and given a truly weird mission. She must find her way, alone at first and then with a couple of really oddball traveling companions: The Scarecrow and the Tin Man. As darkness begins to fall, the forest through which they are walking begins to loom more and more frightening:

They enter a thick forest which immediately spooks and frightens Dorothy: “I don’t like this forest. It’s dark and creepy…Do you suppose we’ll meet any wild animals?” Worried that they will be attacked, the Tin Woodsman predicts the dark forest will be filled mostly with “lions and tigers and bears.”

Dorothy: Lions?
Scarecrow: And tigers?
Tin Man: And bears!
Dorothy: Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

As they march along the twisting road, fearfully repeating the phrase and rapidly gaining speed, a ferocious-looking Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) with a matted mane and two tiny ears bounds into their path with a strange roar: “Rrowrrrr!” Both the Tin Man and the Scarecrow back away and are cowering on the ground. Then, the lion stands on two feet and challenges them with his two paws, bravado and elongated words:

Lion: Put ’em up, put ’em uuuuuup! Which one of you first? I’ll fight ya both together if you want. I’ll fight ya with one paw tied behind my back. I’ll fight ya standin’ on one foot. I’ll fight ya with my eyes closed. (To the Tin Woodsman) Oh, pulling an axe on me, hey? (To the Scarecrow) Sneakin’ up on me, hey? Why, gnong-gnong!
Tin Man: Here, here. Go away and let us alone!
Lion: Oh, scared, huh? Afraid, huh? (To the Tin Woodsman) How long can you stay fresh in that can? Ha-ha-ha-ha. Come on, get up and fight, ya shivering junkyard. (To the Scarecrow) Put your hands up, ya lopsided bag of hay.
Scarecrow: Now that’s getting personal, Lion!
Tin Man: Yes, get up and teach him a lesson.
Scarecrow: What’s wrong with you teachin’ him?
Tin Man: W-w-w-ell, I hardly know ‘im.

From filmsite.org review by Tim Dirks

It’s a familiar scene to those of us who have seen the movie many times. In actuality, because the movie is a classic the scene has been translated into many other movies across the years and we have seen it again and again with different characters and different backdrops, but a similar lead-in and outcome.

It was a dark and scary night. The hero or heroine could not get their mind off of what was scaring them. So they kept repeating the scary thing over and over to themselves. This makes the scary thing bigger and bigger and bigger. Until what might have been conquered has now become a monster of mythic proportions. There is no getting past this hulking beast.

So what does that have to do with pagans and heathens? Quite a bit I think.

You see, I have this theory. My theory goes like this. People are people. We’re all pretty much alike. We have similar dreams for our lives and our loved ones and our children. We have similar struggles. We overcome similar hurdles.

I first encountered this theory when I was quite young. I read a biography of the Federal Era portrait painter, Gilbert Stuart. He is best known for painting George Washington. I don’t remember very much about the the book except for this. He was once staying in a hotel with an older man. He was nervous about something that was coming up. The older man gave him the advice that he could allay some of his fears by remembering that, “all men put their pants on one leg at at time.” Along with Gilbert, it took me awhile to puzzle that one out. But it has served me well all my life.

All men (and women) put their pants on one leg at a time. We all eat breakfast. We all, at our core, are more similar than we are different. Parents want their children to grow up healthy and happy, fall in love and do well in their chosen field. No parent dreams of their child growing up to become homeless or unhappy when they first hold that tiny baby in their arms. We all want good things for our children, for our schools, our communities, our country.

Yet what I have seen happening in our churches is like the scene from the Wizard of Oz. As we have progressed from modernism to post-modernism in the past 50 years, the church has responded in fear; chanting the things it fears over and over and over again. The people who go to the churches have thus created monsters out of their neighbors. The very people who they are to love as themselves, they grow to fear and hate because the chant every Sunday is …

Heathens …

Pagans …

Witches …

oh my!

Keep your children safe. Bring them here. Do not associate with those evil doers.

But Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. But if we have locked ourselves away in our churches and made our neighbors into monsters, how can we do that? How can we begin to understand who they are? The things they love, what makes them tick if we don’t begin to know them.

They are NOT heathens and pagans and witches, oh my! They are people … they put their pants on one leg at a time.


Here are the most excellent thoughts of the rest of the Syncrobloggers this month:

Matthew Stone at Journeys in Between
Christianity, Paganism, and Literature at Notes from the Underground
John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith
Chasing the Wild Goose at Eternal Echoes
Visigoths Ahoy! at Mike’s Musings
Belief and Being: The difficulty of communicating faith at Phil Wyman’s Square No More
Steve Hollinghurst at On Earth as in Heaven
Undefined Desire at Igneous Quill
A Walk on the Wild Side at Out of the Cocoon
Observations on Magic in Western Religion at My Contemplations
Tim Abbott at Tim Abbott
Spirituality and the Zodiac: Stories in the Cosmos at Be the Revolution
Rejection, Redemption, and Roots at One Hand Clapping

Christendom? Post-Christendom?
Aug 19th, 2007 by Sonja

Brother Maynard did a very thorough series last week on the definition of missional. If you missed it, get a cup of coffee (or something), make sure you’ve set aside a goodly chunk of time and read through these articles (One, Two, Three, and Four). I think he totalled up the words at the end of the week to about 13,000. They’re all good, as is usual with Bro. M. And I agreed with most of what he has to say (not that what I think matters a hill of beans, mind you). But there were a couple of references to things like “our Christian heritage” and “Christendom v. post-Christendom,” that got me thinking. Not that I necessarily disagreed, but something about them made me think and ponder … hard. Here are the quotes that got me pondering:

From Sorting Missional Characteristics

Post-Christendom rather than Christian culture.

Culture is assumed to have moved on past any form of “Christian heritage” it might have had, with Christianity holding much less influence” or none at all.

Then …

From Missional Definitions: A Brief Survey

Post-Christendom: we have previously suggested that post-Christendom is more appropriately listed as nuance than as part of either of the two primary missional imperatives. Despite this, it appears fairly prominently in many or most definitions of missional church. Perhaps this is because the incarnational model of church over against an attractional one largely arises out of a response to post-Christendom, as do the very origins of the missional conversation. Having described the meaning and significance of “missional,” it can perhaps be moved to the category of missional nuance as we have discussed, but in assessing the history of the concept, we should properly note that without the realization and desire to develop a response to post-Christendom, it is likely that the reexamination of missiological method which led to the description of a missional approach may well have been deferred for a few more decades at least. I would suggest that this is the probable reason that it features so prominently, more than any other nuance.

I’ve been puzzling this through all weekend now and had some conversations with LightHusband (in my outloud voice, which always helps 😉 ). Here’s what I think I’m trying to say.

Briefly put, I’m beginning to think that this idea that our culture was once a “Christian” culture is a myth. A very dearly held myth that has some large granules of truth, but a myth nonetheless.


Here’s why I think this and why it has bearing on this discussion. For hundreds of years (about 1500 of them) there were three main entities (groups): the church, the state and the general population. Now the church and the state were quite intertwined and inter-related for much of this time. Both had great influence on the general population. Sometimes the church had more, sometimes the state. Arguably one could say that the church held sway for a greater percentage of the time than the state and that is what the Reformation was countering. There were peaks of activity during those years in which great things were done under the banner of Christ (Red Cross comes to mind). However … taken overall, I think the “church” has done some things that have influenced various aspects of our culture and so has the state. But I don’t think that the general population can be considered “Christian” or ever was. I think they went to the local church because it was required of them in the same manner that taxes were required of them and fief payments, etc. But in terms of life/heart changing Jesus-following Christianity, I would argue that the large portion of the general population of the West has never changed it’s stripe from it’s pagan years. That our “Christianity” is but a thin veneer; a social identity or label that the general population has worn.

Historically, most of the general population have considered themselves Christian because of civic/familial obligation, identity, and heritage. Membership in a “Christian church” was a prerequisite for inclusion/advancement in most public and private sectors and was a prerequisite for marriage. It was essentially the basic requirement for inclusion in Western culture. For an excellent study on the effects of living outside the church, or even within the church but outside locally recognized bounds of normal behavior read Entertaining Satan by John Putnam Demos. The result of this was not lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but a sense of moral superiority and social inclusion.

The barometer for whether or not one is a “Christian” has not been measured by the Gospel, as we might in other cultures, but by the label that we wear precisely because of our history. I would argue that that very history speaks against us. Mind you, I understand that I’m painting with a very broad brush here. There were pockets of very genuine faith here and there. There were also some episodes of extremely bad behavior on the part of the church. I’m thinking here about the papacy during the 700-1000’s and Medici dynasty, and let’s throw in the Crusades, Gallileo, Copernicus, etc. for good measure.

Simply because while there are many people out there who may wear the label of “Christian” I don’t believe that makes them one, any more than wearing the label of lawyer makes me one. I may have studied some law. I may watch a lot of Law & Order. I may deeply believe that I am a lawyer based on a lot of circumstances in my life. But … I’m still not a lawyer and just telling people that I am doesn’t make me one. What makes me a lawyer? Behaving like one (and passing a Bar exam). What makes someone a Christ-follower? Arguably behaving like one … manifesting the fruits of the spirit, desiring to live out the mission of Jesus, etc.

So. I’ve actually come to believe that parsing out post-Christendom vs. Christendom may be more important to the discussion on missional than it’s been given. I guess what I’m getting at here as I write this all out, is that I think perhaps the assessment of the attractional model of church may be too shallow. In other words, we may not be giving it it’s historical/cultural due in our attempts to change to a missional outlook. Those roots may go deeper than we think and as we attempt to move forward and away from that model, we may trip over them if we’re unaware of them. So while I think the idea of “Christendom” may be a myth … that’s the name we have given it for time immemorial, so … I think it may need to be evaluated more closely for instance, for the reasons that the attractional model of church was the primary model for so long (1700 years +/-). That period of time creates some powerful cultural mores … how will those be overcome? Will we have the patience to do so? What will the markers be?

Christians Confess
Aug 7th, 2007 by Sonja

It seems fitting after my post yesterday that I participate in this meme begun by John Smulo (thanks to an invite from Erin at Decompressing Faith). It’s also fitting because I helped him (in a very, very small way) with the original website. If you’re unfamiliar with Christians Confess, please check it out. John is the torch bearer for many of us who are grieved with the face of the church in the public square today. He created the site as a forum for Christians to apologize for the wrongs they see the church and other Christians doing both today and in the past. It is also a place for those who do not consider themselves Christian to tell their stories. It’s a great place and I encourage you to visit.

First the rules of the meme:

  1. Apologize for three things that Christians have often got wrong. Your apologies should be directed towards those who don’t view themselves as part of the Christian community. Alternatively, apologize for things you personally have done wrong towards those outside of the church.
  2. Post a comment at the originating post so others can keep track of the apologies.
  3. Tag five people to participate in the meme.
  4. If desired, send an email with the link to your blog post at the Christians Confess site, giving permission for your apologies to be added to the website.

Here are the things I’d like to apologize for … in no particular order.

Here’s the thing … it’s pretty clear that Jesus came to bring hope, healing and freedom and we, the church, his followers have sucked all the fun out of that. We’ve taken the hope out of hope and continued wounding the wounded and piled chains on slaves. I am so sorry.

For those of you who bothered to read up on Jesus, I know you read the wonderful stories about people flocking to Him and finding love. Or finding a miracle and you hoped that if you came to church you’d get some too. So you came with that last ember cupped in your hands, coming to find the God you’d read about and the love, treasure and the miracle. We stomped on it. I am mortified that we took your last hope and extinguished it. Lord have mercy. I am so sorry.

Jesus was Jewish and we forget that the roots of our faith lie in that rich ancient tradition. Isaac had a half-brother Ishmael who became the grandfather of Islam. We have much to learn from other faith traditions and other perspectives on God. S/He who created the universe may not be reduced to a linear equation and we demean Her when we do this. We have much to apologize to other faiths for and I am again … so very, very sorry.

I tag …. (drum roll … )

Doug at Perigrinatio
Patrick at Dual Ravens
Julie at OneHandClapping
Kievas at Sharing A Journey
Sally at Eternal Echoes

Like John and Erin before me, if you read this and wish to participate, just leave your link in the comments and I will pass it on up the chain. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate in this … I just picked some people who have circles of blog-friends who are different than mine.

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