My Kool-Aid May Be Organic Wildflower-Taro Flavored, But It’s Still Kool-Aid

It all started with a simple glass of tea.

I swear that isn’t Kool-Aid. It is Tazo’s Passion iced tea, and it is FABULOUS.

So anyway.

I made this tea, and remarked to my husband that it looked like Kool-Aid. He then, in typical ultra-sarcastic husband fashion, proceeded to ask me if I was “drinking the Kool-Aid.”

I almost made some snarky comment regarding politics and voting Green just to piss conservative Christians off, but I stopped. I began to wonder if I was, in fact, drinking someone’s Kool-Aid.

I don’t generally buy into either major (U.S.) party’s rhetoric; truth be told, I’ve even started shutting off NPR when they do political updates. Rachel Held Evans said it best when she wrote,

My generation is tired of the culture wars…[we] are ready for peace. We are ready to lay down our arms. We are ready to stop waging war and start washing feet.

I know very, very well that I am tired of political wars. I so earnestly desire a time when all people, both in the U.S. and worldwide, can learn how to stop hating each other and start working together to actually make things better. I am far too pessimistic to believe it will ever happen, but hey, dreams.

So often, I do not find myself “drinking the Kool-Aid” of United States politics.

But I wonder if there’s a different kind of Kool-Aid that I’m drinking.

I have a long list of theological heroes. Tony Jones, Tripp and Bo, Rachel Held Evans, Greg Boyd, Doug Pagitt, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shane Claiborne…goodness, I could just keep on listing all night. I read their blogs, I listen to their sermons and podcasts, I annoy follow them on Twitter, I learn from them. I am greatly impacted by their thoughts.

So much so that I often have to step back and examine my thoughts on a specific issue to see if they’re really mine, or if they’re an amalgam of the thoughts of people who inspire me.

I try never to take anything (important) at face value. I try to research issues as much as I can before I take a stance on them. I try to listen to people on all sides of any given debate.

But I often find myself assimilating the stances of those I look up to before I can get that far.

Take, for instance, the issue of evolution. I’ve never really taken a solid stance on it. I knew I wasn’t a young-earth creationist, but I didn’t get much further than that (perhaps because I went to a conservative Baptist college where evolution was, for real, a blacklisted issue for class discussion). This past Spring, I had been listening to some Homebrewed Christianity, while writing my senior sem paper on the Emergent movement, and for the first time came into some arguments from Christ-following scholars in favor of evolution. I began to research the issue, but because it ended up not fitting well in my paper, I stopped my research early and have not picked it back up since.

However, I now find myself assuming this stance, without having any real support for it. I’ve barely researched it, and the only reason I even started doing that was because someone I look up to said they thought it was true.

Sounds an awful lot like drinking Kool-Aid, doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong. I look up to these people for a reason and I generally do agree with them on most things. However, I think it is vital that we not take stances on issues we know nothing about. And especially right now, as the U.S. has divided itself in half and has commenced an all-out war of political bashing.

Before we argue, whether about politics, theology, or whether Helvetica is better than Arial or not (it is), let’s step back. Let’s research. Let’s approach the issues as neutrally as possible before we decide who we think is right. And, most of all, let’s remember that the people who disagree with us are still, in fact, people, and we should treat them as such.

I am so tired of human beings acting like zoo monkeys. Please, before you fling your excrement at someone, know why you’re doing it, and remember that the more shit you throw, the more will come flying back at you.

Advertisements

The Nature of God, or Why I Don’t Care About Conversions

First of all, sorry for the break. We’ve had an interesting summer. And by interesting, I mean…challenging. Which means this hasn’t been a priority. Anyway.

Tony Jones recently posted a challenge to “progressive theo-bloggers” (I think that includes me) to write one post about God–not politics, or Jesus, or anything else, just God. Incidentally, the husband and I have been discussing the nature of God as we try to figure out how to lovingly, gently contend with his nearly-fundamentalist brother who has made it his mission to tell us we are wrong. About everything.

Super.

I had been trying to think of what to write about next, what was on my mind enough to warrant a post, but not too chaotic and emotionally charged to make sense. I have about ten drafts waiting to be finished. I don’t know if they ever will be. Tony’s challenge, then, came at a perfect time.

My husband was a reconciliation major, which means that his niche is social justice. This passion has spilled over to me as well. His brother recently sent him a facebook message that essentially said social justice is only good if God is being exalted, which, in his terms, means that justice is only good if people are being converted directly by you.*

It was at that point in reading his message that I realized: our disagreements with him are so much deeper than whether a certain issue is right or wrong. Our disagreements are about the nature of God and of faith themselves.

When you look at what he has said, you can see that what he values most is getting people to believe in God. If this does not happen, unbelievers will be sent to hell by this God, without concern for whether they were good or bad people. Thus, if you have the option of feeding a hungry person with food or with the Bible, you should always pick the Bible, because feeding them mere food won’t “get them saved.”

Beyond the plethora of theological flaws with that way of thinking, there is a bigger issue here: isn’t there more to God than that?

I would like to think that God is at least a little more intricate than your average nightclub bouncer.

There is this fantastic quote by which I form my life: “Do good works, and there you will find God.” I don’t have any clue who said it; I thought it was Mother Teresa for a long time, but when I googled it, her name and the quote were in no correlation with each other. If anyone knows, I’d love to pin down who said it. But, yes, the point. I believe, and have found it to be truthful, that God doesn’t always show up in sermons, or in church, or when someone asks me what I believe in. But God always shows up when good works are being done.

God is exalted when a hungry person is fed. God is exalted when a lonely person finds a friend. God is exalted when a homeless person has a place to stay. God is exalted when a poor person has a way to make ends meet.

God is exalted when all people join hands to serve each other, regardless of their religion.

Because God is bigger than a nightclub bouncer with a list of names; you’re in, you’re out. God does not focus on our words, but our hearts. God understands that our religion is more often a product of our culture and our geographical and historical location than it is our choice of beliefs. God understands that we don’t always get the right representation of love. God knows that it is more important for a person to choose to do good over evil than for them to choose the Bible over any other holy book.

Because God has welcomed all of us–every last one–to the table. Christian, Muslim, Hindu, black, white, male, female, queer, straight–doesn’t matter.

I’m sure God rejoices when Christ is shared and accepted. But I think God rejoices even more when love is shared and accepted.

And if God is willing to forgive our sins time and time again, I think God is willing to look past our religion and see who we truly are.

Do we care most about getting people to believe what we believe, making them like us? Or do we care most about giving love to all people, making ourselves like them?

I think the God who became a person, and a poor, homeless, socially unacceptable rebel at that, would want us to do the latter.

Because God is not confined to religion. God is, however, love.

 

 

*He did go on to explain it this way; I’m not putting words in his mouth, er, hands?