From progressive to fundamental ideals our culture is filled with interpretations. Secular to religious. Pagan to Christian morals. Here in Oklahoma I have encountered a different world view. Small rural towns, middle American idealism, Bible Belt, old ways of Indigenous tribalism…I have seen this before.
When I was in Africa I encountered many eye opening questions and interpretations of what family, culture, and society was and witnessed manifestations that challenged my understanding of them. I entered the picture with a romantic idealism. I took the part of the noble white man arriving off the boat [a plane in my case] to testify to the black courageous savage. I was wrong in the case to apply my formulaic religion in that case. A big part of me wonders out loud how much of these assumptions I brought with me to Oklahoma. Noble, hard working seminary intern arrives on reservation to network and challenge the small town mentality of those I have been selected to serve.
This morning I got angry at a pastor that was being interviewed on a news show. He was a former football legend here in Oklahoma and is now a Baptist pastor of a mega church in OKC. He proclaimed that it was time to take Oklahoma, indeed America, back for Jesus. That the moral fabric of America is being dragged down by those indecent proponents of Brokeback Mountain and Desperate Housewives. He was sickened by this.
I watched and grew disgusted by his banter. I wondered what education or pedigree this man held to enlighten his perspective. Why would he preach this exclusion and hatred. He was saying the Gays and Feminists are messing up our country. He bragged about a converted Muslim preaching the gospel to those poor bastards in Iran.
I began to judge this guy. I talked back to him and challenged him. I am right, you are wrong. This guy is an idiot. His God is a conservative Republican Masculine Homophobe that brings home the bacon.
This guys God is nothing like my God. My God is of peace, love, preference for the poor, inclusive, and is cool if his wife does not change her name. I am bothered that this guy does not see the light. He is walking around in an archaic god pleasing posture seeking to earn his salvation. Poor little guy.
There are arguments for both perspectives. The discussion goes back and forth. The conversation includes many religions and many religious perspectives. With most sides proclaiming that they are the “TRUE” holders of the divine. Some say we are all full of shite and that God is made up to comfort our need for something more than this bleak existence.
What I find interesting is that relationships play a foundational part in any of these perspectives. In Africa relationships between folks was critical to life. Ones relationship to God, your relationship to each other, and to those understood as important. Relationships provide importance to everyone.
Relationships develop power and prestige. If you are included in a relationship you are imbued with a sort of strength and power. If you are excluded you are denied power and importance.
When we are denied a relationship we understand as powerful we will fight to gain that relationship or reject it entirely and seek to devalue it as to empower ourselves. The same goes with spiritual relationships.
When we exclude others from God some fight for the inclusion and others reject it as lame or out of touch, even whimsical and ignorant. In the inclusive group Christian relationships are based on our closeness to God and produces “righteousness”. Some groups seek to elevate their righteousness by exclusion.
The Gays cannot be a part of the Godly because they are different than us and their inclusion would make us equal. We are not as bad as them. Those feminists cannot be a part of the Godly because they challenge the way it has always been. If things change then God is not stable and eternal. God has always been a conservative Republican.
The fundamentals cannot be a part of the Godly because their inclusion means that God is supportive of their message. The pastor seeking to save America for Jesus is not part of the Godly…if he is than I have a problem with God’s posse.
I paused and thought about this some more. It is in relationships that we grow in too God. I am not saying we become God! We grow into love with God. We grow into a desperate aching need of God. It is via relationships that we are awakened to the intimacy available with Jesus. It is in relationship with the divine that we are transformed.
When you fall in love with someone and you want to court them, what do you do? You spend time with them. You walk with them. You become interested in what they are interested in. Your heart celebrates in joy with what pleases their heart. You mourn what they mourn. How many folks with a personal checklist for love have found love? It is about that something magical, that something “other”. This is relationship and it differs from person to person.
We cannot know if we are not in relationship. The fundamental, the progressive, the Muslim, and the other need to have a relationship to understand ach other and what God is doing in the world. Fear is no excuse for ignorance. Intolerance lacks love. Love is found in relationship. We have to love as God loves. Imagine a world with love and absent of fear. (insert smile here)
P.s. I am still a judgmental, ignorant, religious supremacist. I endeavor to actually live out what I preach. Perhaps one day, D.V., I will know the sweet fruit of relationship with God, absent of the human worry of exclusion.