Today, I"m writing at A Deeper Church. I've re-posted the piece in its entirety here (which I don't normally do), but if you'd like to comment, jump into the DEEPER END and post it there. And even if you'd rather not comment, you'll still want to visit A Deeper Church to check out the companion links to this post.
Thanks for reading. It's rather humbling.
When I was chokered by neck-ties and theology for a living, a man–a good man–informed me that ”doctrine is the foundation of the church, and doctrines, by nature, divide.” He was speaking most specifically to the reasons why conversations with the charismatics at the Waffle House were non-productive, and to why his friends were predominately of a certain evangelical stripe.
When I was chokered by neck-ties and theology for a living, a man–a good man–informed me that “Kennedy and King might have been well-meaning, but if you keep writing essays about the passions of liberals, you’re going to cause division here.” He was speaking most particularly to a piece I had written about the beauty of men who traded small lives for larger causes. I suppose that patriotism and civil liberties are divisive, too.
But I reckon I read the Good Book, and in it, there was a man–a genuinely Good man–and he blazed a trail here to be my big brother. He was sent from my father, so the Good Book says, and I reckon that he came to teach us a few things about living together as siblings. For his first experiment, he brought together a zealot and a tax collector. I’ve read the story about the zealot and the tax collector, and best I can tell, neither ever cut the other, which was a miracle as grand as the whole water-to-wine thing, I suppose.
He left us–the siblings–words about meekness and humility. He asked us to be poor within ourselves. He asked us to be praying folks; he even asked us to pray for our enemies. If we’re supposed to take prayer that far, I reckon he’d ask us Baptists to pray for the charismatics, too. Perhaps he’d asks the progressives to tolerate the conservatives. He’d ask the feminists to pray for the complementarians.
And so on. And so forth.
Once, the Big Brother prayed for unity. I don’t recall him praying for Baptists or Methodists, for those who waited for true love or those who didn’t, for the reformed or those blessed with free will. I think his prayer was more along the lines of “Father let them share bacon and prayer at the Waffle House; let them bring my message of peace and redemption to the waitress so that the Good News will go forward.” Of course, all the theological chokering of my youth may have cut off the circulation to the better parts of my thinking. I might’ve missed the more divisive prayer. It might be somewhere in there.