Aug 14, 2010

Just Saying . . . .

Last week I asked a twenty-something year old what I could write about in the “One Mile Mission” Blog. The twenty-something said: “Anything but religion!”

This was an interesting way to frame the content or anti-content of a blog—“Anything but religion!” I was somewhat vexed by the response as the question was deadly earnest. Yet the more I thought about it and looked around, listened to people, and read things in the newspaper, I realized that many of the issues that “religious people” seem to be hung up on have little or no interest for college age students and younger.

Our poor young people are so idealistic and optimistic that they think when the church sings “Let there be peace on earth—and let it begin with me” that we really mean it. When I read some of the hateful rants in the newspaper about various groups both religious and otherwise, I have to scratch my head. When I read about good Christian people saying that a mosque is a symbol of killing Christians this makes about as much sense to me as saying that Fred Phelps is a mainline Christian leader. Phelps, as you may remember, is the pastor who said: “You can’t preach the Bible without preaching hatred.” As one website puts it: “Fred Phelps: Giving Christians a bad name since 1929.”

Thus my young friends, if they think that all we do in the church is talk about who is wrong about religion, I can understand their point. Their point of view reminded me of what Thomas Cahill said a few years ago. Cahill, the author of a series of best-selling books that explore the hinges of history, said something quite remarkable during an interview, recorded in The Dallas Morning News. Although I do not agree with the quotation wholly, Cahill’s perspective does give us reason for a slight ironic pause. Cahill remarked, “In general, institutions tend to do the opposite of what they claim to do. Banks make people poor, schools make people ignorant, hospitals make people ill. And churches make people evil” (Dallas Morning News, Religion Section, Jeffery Weiss, “Longest Story Ever Told,” pp. 1-2G).

I think my young friends would not be so down on religion if we did not resort to in-fighting, finger-pointing, and trash-talking other people and their beliefs quite so much. After all we do follow a messiah who said once: “. . . love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked” (Luke 6:35).

In order to counterbalance this perhaps not so unfair characterization of religion in general and the church in particular, perhaps we ought to practice what Jesus preached and follow Jesus’ commandment. If you forgot the commandment it is simply this: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Jesus always has a way of assaulting our prejudices.

Just Saying . . . .

2 comments :

abigailm said...

If one uses the same rationale for denying an Islamic center close to the world trade center site, then there shouldn't there be any Catholic churches near the Oklahoma City Federal Building since Timothy McVeigh was Catholic. Just saying...

Estee said...

As a twenty-something year-old, I don't agree with my fellow twenty-something year-old in the comment that you shouldn't write about religion and the implied argument that we shouldn't talk about religion in polite society. I think that is just the problem. Those of us who advocate for a different kind of religion, one based in love and compassion and justice and not in hate and exclusivism, need to start speaking up an communicating clearly. Thanks for sharing.

Post a Comment

 
Powered by Blogger