Here’s a lovely letter I got in Friday. You may think I’m sharing it here because of all the kind things its author says about me. And I am. But I’m mostly sharing it because I love what she reminds us to bear in mind about conservative/fundamentalist Christians.
I treated myself tonight to a little catch-up on your blog, including the notes from your commenters. I can’t always read your site every day, but I see your tweets and Facebook posts, and I mentally tuck them away, saving them for when I have a little downtime to indulge. I just wanted to thank you for your work, your writing, the forum you provide for others, and the way you share Christ’s love. I’m no Rob Bell (although Love Wins sits on my beside table and I’m reading a bit each night), but I agree that all should applaud your work, and I have forwarded many of your posts to my Christian and agnostic friends. In fact, I have forwarded more from your blog than I have from any other.
I wanted to let you know, as way of encouragement, that your writing has supported a great theological shift for me over the last nine months or so. Don’t get me wrong, I know you’’re just a guy who (likely) leaves your socks on the floor or the cap off the toothpaste, or puts the ice cream container back in the freezer mostly empty, or some other such annoyance. But despite all that, well, humanity (whatever form it takes), I really think the Holy Spirit works in you, leads people to your blog, and works in our hearts in a new way when we stop by. Now go pick up your socks.
I’ve always been a “no one gets terrified into the kingdom of heaven” kind of gal, but over the past year I’ve grown so enamored of God’s LOVE (yeah, it has to be shouted) that it has opened my mind to the possibilities for all of God’s people. I have great hope and joy for the future of all of God’s children, past and present — and, honestly, I’m not sure I’d be there without the writing I’ve found on your blog, both from you and your brilliant and erudite followers. So, thank you, thank you.
The only thing that makes me wince (and perhaps it should), is the vitriol I sometimes see in the comments of your blog about fundie (fundi? fundy? fundae?) Christians. My experience with them (which is surprisingly extensive, considering the small brownstone village Episcopal Church I attend in the bluest of blue states), is that Conservative Christians are mostly faithful, earnest, devout, loving and genuinely seeking the Truth (Capital T). They give a lot of their money to hurting folks, they use much of their time helping others (sacrificing career and family time to do so), they study scripture more than anyone else I know, and they genuinely care about others. They might not be totally on the Right Path, but the fundamentalists I know are studiously seeking Truth, and I trust Jesus to meet them on their path.
Who of us, really, is entirely successful in choosing the right(eous) road? Make no mistake, I still have cognitive dissonance — okay, maybe revulsion — with conservatives’ treatment of “others” (well, honestly, I’m ashamed to admit, mostly with how they treat LGBT people), but I have no doubt that God is at work there.
It worries me to hear the Christian Right bashed by the Christian Left, and vice-versa; Jesus prayed that we all would be one, after all, and we are to be bound to each other in love. That being said, I understand the sentiment behind the anger from those oppressed by the Christian Right (at least as much as I can, given that I’m a heterosexual, middle class, politically moderate woman) and I support their right, and our obligation, to speak out against injustice.
Keep pushing that envelope, John. The times, they are a-changin’, and the body of Christ is, too, swept into the current of Christ’s undeniable love, his bounteous love for all of his creation.
If you or your delightful wife are ever in Connecticut, please consider stopping by for dinner. My family would be honored to consider you both friend and revered guest.
Please also allow me to apologize for the length of this missive. To paraphrase Samuel Clemens (or some other superior writer), I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have time. Keep the faith, and may God continue to richly bless you in your ministry.