I AM NOT SURE YOUR ARE AWARE, but we are just a few days away from a presidential election. You also might not know this, but people are a little tense over the whole thing. My FB feed is full of people either campaigning like our lives depend on it (they do), posting pictures of kittens (isn't that better than election nonsense) or posting, "Peace out! I'll be back when this nonsense is over." All of which seem to imply that this all beyond our control, and has little to do with us.
I am, of course, using "us" as in the United States of America. Lookit, my 4th grade teacher (Ms. Bauman -- she was THE BEST) taught me the simple concept that America is me. It is why I grow uncomfortable when people talk about the negative aspects of my country. I feel that same 4th grade responsibility even now. This is my America and all of it is my responsibility.
This of course is the simpliest version of our Nation -- the idea that its citizens alone are responsible for both its greatness and its horrors. I am no longer a 4th grader and I recongize that the world is a very complicated place. I understand that corporations and organizations actually have a much more powerful voice than one American 4th grade girl. I also understand that socioeconomic status, gender and ethnicity also have a tremendous impact on whether or not my voice gets heard, but all that aside: America, as we know it, was built by us.
I cannot post enough kittens on Facebook to erase this simple and uncomfortable fact -- this election cycle and its candidates were built by me.
Here's a case in point, if you know who Jen Hatmaker is, you know she has had a pretty tough week. She is a Christian speaker and public figure. I follow her on the Facebook, although I can't remember how or why that happened. I've never read her books, but I love reading her quotes - especially regarding adoption, compassion and being part of a multi-race family. She was interviewed last week, and answered a question honestly, and now she's getting pulverized for her response.
The topic of the question and her response are really irrelevant. My point is, and I've mentioned this before so I apologize for being redundant, but a woman of faith dared to speak something uncoventional -- she was honest about her faith - and the "official" church has attacked, mocked and shamed her. A friend of mine, who I respect, posted an extremely mocking piece regarding her -- a blatant mocking of her statements in a sarcastic tone, and it actually made my stomach turn -- that it would be acceptable to publically mock an honest woman in such a cruel and bitter way. When did it become okay for us to beat up other people of faith?
The Christian church has taken a beating this election cycle, but I submit it is a beating we have earned. We refuse anyone to every ask any questions or admit that they find some things hard to understand. The Christian church has a strict set of values and rules that must be followed, accepted and supported - without doubt or question. We have been this way for years and the result has been two-fold: Believers who follow without thought or question, and who do not value intellect and people who come to believe that their questioning spirit means that they are NOT people of faith, who leave the church. Is it any wonder that the church and people of faith in general are portrayed as mindless simpletons? What has modern Christianity done to promote the idea that we are people of thought as well as spirit?
Case in point, I taught for over a decade at a private Christian school. We hired a brilliant scientist to teach our biology course. This Phd. had the audacity to not only teach one theory of origins. She dared to aruge that our students needed to not only know strict interpretation of the scripture but ALL theories of origin, including the theory of evolution, as well as the theory of theistic evolution. You CANNOT imagine the uproar this caused. Keep in mind, she wasn't necessarily trying to persuade anyone of anything -- she was simply introducing systems of belief held by humans. I taught English at the time, so none of this happened in my department, but my understanding that she was nearly fired for holding firm (THANK YOU) to her belief that believers needed to be educated believers. It is still hard for me to imagine, even all these years later -- the school board was actually arguing that our students shouldn't know about anything other than one view of the origins of the earth. They were greatly troubled at the idea of our students aquiring more information.
This is our downfall. We have so elevated the spiritual telling our young people to live their lives under the spirit's direction, forgetting that we were commanded to love God with our heart, MIND and soul. The Church has determined to "set itself apart" and not rely on what the mind of man values, and in the process have neglected the development of a spiritual intellect. Even church history itself is neglected -- those who came before had developed keen minds -- they were scholars.
And so here we are, bemoaning the fact that we are badly represented and that young people are leaving us in droves. Any public figures of faith who confess to doubts or ask questions are mocked, rejected and ostrasized. We have built the America that we see on our computer screen, and then complain that it is too dark and evil so we are going to "take a break for awhile", expecting that when this election is finally over things will be different. Things will never be different as long as we continue to sit on the sidelines, wring our hands and mourn our fate. Faith is real, messy and active, and Go Time is now.