Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Come on, Mike!

The Vice President, Mike Pence, gave the commencement at Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell) and told the graduates to 'prepare to be shunned' for being Christians.

Mike, like most of the graduates, is an Evangelical Christian. Most Evangelicals (though not all, I hasten to add) think that they are 'right' and anyone who disagrees with them is 'wrong'.

They won't be 'shunned'--they will be disagreed with.

Even the Episcopal Church has evangelicals (I don't capitalize it to make a distinction--they are evangelicals who are Episcopalians, not Evangelicals).

One of them came up to me at the all day meeting on Safe Church I mentioned (disparagingly) in my last post. He said, "I want to tell you something I should have told you long ago. Once you and I were in a long discussion in which we disagreed. But you told me, 'I want to understand where you're coming from even though I'm not going to agree with you." He went on to say, "that meant so very much to me: that you wanted to 'understand' me. That meant more to me than your 'agreeing' with me."

I honestly don't remember any details of that years ago conversation, but that sounds like what I would have said.

I am a Christian, for goodness sake. I am a priest in a Christian church. And I am about the polar opposite of an evangelical. I wear a button I've mentioned before that says 'Heretic'. And I am. I saw Bishop Curry, who gave me the button with great glee in Columbus. Ohio, and showed it to him. He said, "I hope you still are."

"No worry there, Bishop," I said.

I wish I could address the graduates at Liberty.

I'd say, in part, "We're all Christians here--me and you. But my view is not your view and your beliefs are not my beliefs. But we should understand each other and know where each of us is coming from and agree to disagree in peace."

I heard a clip on the radio from "The Good Place"--a TV comedy about the afterlife--today in an interview with the great theologian Elaine Pagels.

In the clip, a character who lived a really dissolute life, can't figure out why she's in the Good Place. She has a conversation with a heavenly being named Michael (the archangel???) and asks him, "so, who got it right?"

"The Hindus and Muslims," Michael replies, "got some of it right. As did the Christians and Jews and Buddhists and all other religions. They all got some of it right."

Well, that's where I am. All of us get 'some of it right', but none of us get all of it right.

So, if others don't admit you got it 'all right' is being 'shunned', then the Vice President was right down at Liberty University.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.