A Few Things I Know & Where They Take Me

I’ve always been interested by people who don’t get tied in knots over issues because my second most frequent place of residence is A Quandary. When I’m feeling stuck there, often in a never ending circle of argument with myself, all I can do is think of the things I know for sure and put away the bits that confuse me till they come clear – and they often do.

So here’s what I know. (If you’re not an overthinker, chances are you won’t get to end of this post, but you’re welcome to try.)

  • That all people fall short of God’s glory. Every single one of us. And don’t you dare add the word But to that.
  • That the Bible says what it’s always said but the cultural lenses through which we translate and interpret are always changing – even for those who would describe themselves as “Bible Believing”.
  • That there are many many things in my everyday life that were not forseen during biblical times and yet, people themselves, their temperaments, humours, and gifts, their tendancy to be selfish and seduced by wealth and power, haven’t changed.
  • That social mores are constantly changing – evolving or disolving depending on your perspective – and one generation or another is always going to be part of that change. My grandmother didn’t have the right to vote until she was 28 years old. James Hood, only 17 years older than me, was rejected from attending an American university because he was black.
  • That “Bible believing” evangelicals fought for and against slavery, for and against the right of women to vote and for and against the end of segregation. I can’t help but pray that I would have been on the right side of those issues and I use the word “right” with confidence.
  • That the two hottest topics in the church right now are the acceptance of women in church leadership and the acceptance of same sex couples in church at all.
  • That there are ultimate logical conclusions to our religious beliefs.
  • That there is not so much a slippery slope as a continuum from condemnation to grace and the darkest edge of condemnation is supported by people whose views are considered religiously correct. Just for example: Uganda and India.
  • That I decided a long time ago which direction on that continuum I want to be walking – and am willing to risk being “unbiblical” in the process. I’m going to be face down to the floor when I meet God anyway so I might as well add this to the list of reasons to be eating holy dust.
  • That I will welcome gay people into my life and my fellowship and encourage them in their Christian faith and their relationships.
  • That I will “sit under” the leadership of women who are gifted and called to be leaders.

Discussion of “yes, buts” welcome but a spirit of grace is mandatory.

Reaping the Harvest of Violence

I just yelled at my husband because I am filled with rage at James Dobson. So I’m going to give the poor man (husband, not Dobson) a break and get this out here.

Galatians 6
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Some loud Christians seem to believe that the United States has sown sexual immorality and that has led to the deaths of twenty little children and their teachers.

How bloomin difficult is it to see that what has been sown in the United States is not immorality linked to sex but immorality linked to violence – and particularily to guns? Seriously. How can the spiritual leaders of that nation not be falling on their faces in repentence for guns?

Do they think their addiction to guns is actually of the spirit rather than the flesh?

How can they not fall on their faces in repentence for vulnerable men and women unjustly put on death row?

How can they not fall on their faces in repentence for the deaths of Afghan children by American weaponry?

These days post the Newtown murders should be a time of sackcloth and ashes for anyone who thinks that violence curbs violence. It’s already a time of sackcloth and ashes for those of us who don’t.

Proverbs 22:8
Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

Seeds of Social Conscience

It was not always obvious that I was one day going to be the kind of person who cared about what was going on in the world and felt moved to make a difference in some way.  I was a tricky selfish teenager who refused to feel guilty about the state of the poor in the world. I can remember saying as much to my Socials 11 teacher. Not one of my better moments but I think I took that stand because the problem just seemed so big and I really did care but couldn’t see how I could possibly change anything.

When I talk about “making a difference” now, I mean just the bits I feel I can take on, realizing that I can’t fix everything but I can fix some things and, what I can’t do as one, I can maybe do as one of many. Even then, I’m painfully aware of my frequent hypocrisy and ineffectuality. But doing something is better than doing nothing so I chug along.

I suppose it all started with Mom and Trevor Hudddleston. When we were very tiny, she used to walk us from Woodwards department store down Hastings Street to show us Skid Row well before it was called the Downtown Eastside. She wanted us to know that this was where she had spent her preschool years hanging out in cafes with her beloved grandfather and his cronies during the depression. Poor people were just people.

Then came Trevor Huddleston and the oranges.  After reading Naught for your Comfort,

if my mother saw Outspan oranges in our local Safeway or Red & White, she would summon the manager and tell him take them off the shelves and didn’t he know what was going on in South Africa! It was some years before I could pass a display of oranges without a feeling that something unpleasant was about to happen.

And it didn’t stop at oranges. I wasn’t allowed Barbie clothes because they also came from South Africa. Amusingly, I was allowed Barbies – so the feminism hadn’t kicked in yet – but all their clothes were ugly and handmade and I will never forget the teeny teeny tini bikini that my aunt somehow managed to knit. A hand stitched ball gown just couldn’t compete with whatever those wonderful South African seamstresses were producing, but, “because the black people do all the work and the white people get all the money” was the final answer to any plea for Barbie finery. My Barbie wore a sack to the ball.

Funny how the seeds get planted. I guess it also helped that my mother was the kind of person who would pick up litter and hand it back to whoever dropped it. She would stop for anyone and everyone in need. She would happily (much to my cringeing embarrassment) yell at other peoples’ children if they were misbehaving.

She was a community minded fair trade social activist in her own way -and she planted the seeds of my own stubborn belief that change is possible and worth pursuing.