In response to yesterday’s piece, Sunday School: What a Drag. Literally!, I got a note from a reader that had the reprehensible quality of compelling me to cogitate. I am anti-cogitation! Cogitation is an abomination of an irritation that brings procrastination if not consternation to the creation and assimilation of my situation.
The thrust of Mr. Communication’s question to me was, “Why are you so negative? First you wrote about how badly Christians treated your wife, then about how your church insisted that you sign an anti-gay statement, and then the thing about the Sunday school teacher. For someone who’s a Christian, you sure do spend a lot of time criticizing Christians.”
So that made me think. Though it’s true that blogging some 25,000 words a month means almost necessarily writing about everything (and if you’re a regular reader of mine, you know I do), a preponderance of the evidence suggests that at least lately I have been about the business of, shall we say, gently rebuking my fellow Christians. So I thought I might think about that fact.
And you know what I concluded? Good for me! (Um … if I do say so myself.) I should be criticizing Christians. I should be doing more of it. If Christians don’t criticize the way Christianity is practiced and presented to the world, then who will? To whom else would we listen? To whom else do we ever listen? (Oh, sure, my book I’m OK–You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop launched a whole rash of books about how Christians look to non-Christians—but to whom else were we listening before that, I mean?)
And just for the record, or whatever, I don’t actually “criticize” anyone. All I do is relay stuff that Actually Happened. I was dragged out of that Sunday school class. I was rejected by my church for declining to sign that No Gays Here document. People at that same church did treat my wife poorly. The evangelist in the orange cap did violate the Great Commandment by screaming at my wife and me. Those aren’t guesses, exaggerations, or fabrications. They’re truths.
I take Jesus’ revelation that the truth will set us free as seriously as I take anything in my life. I think we all do. I think we all understand that lies and pretense are the lifeblood of hypocrisy and corruption. It follows that I’m naturally and viscerally repelled by any form of lie, hatred, or ignorance perpetrated in the name of the Prince of Peace. It makes me isane. It makes me … well, write.
I love and absolutely believe the story of Christ as we have it in the Bible. If I didn’t feel as strongly as I do about Christianity, I couldn’t have poured into the book Being Christian so much of … well, everything I have. I couldn’t have written my apologetic, Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang: Why I Do The Things I Do, by God. I’m OK would have remained a formless idea. It’s true enough that I’m often not thrilled with Christians who dishonor their professed religion by acting boorish, arrogant, and hypocritical. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with them, as, together, we all learn to better and more faithfully follow Christ. (And it definitely doesn’t mean that I’m unaware of when I, too, have acted like a boorish, arrogant hypocrite. Which I pretty much only don’t do when I’m asleep.)
I see every Christian as my brother, my sister, my mother, my father.
I know we’re all in this together—whether, at any given time, we like it or not.
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