To She or not To She
There I was with an enlightened and predominantly female group discussing modern art and out of the female curator’s mouth came the word mankind. At my daughter’s elementary school the hip young gay teacher has written on his chalkboard “mankind,” and the pronoun for God was he. I felt like I was revisiting the 1980s. Maybe I am a dinosaur but I really thought that in 2016 inclusive language would be part of the vernacular of the young. This is not PC; it should be normalized by now. God is not a he, we are not mankind but humanity. I can remember teaching my toddler son that God was not a he or she but a Spirit beyond a singular gender identity. Of course this became a problem when he, with his new found knowledge, tried to correct my parents in their gendered language and began to speak in his toddler little voice that God is not a he or she but, wait for it, a ferret. He could not say his sps yet. Inclusive language was a stretch for my parents but this new god as animal thing was a bridge too far.
Inclusive language has been around awhile and is one of my measurements whether a person has really considered things or have they only accepted the culture around them. One of the problems in society today is that the liberal fashion has caught on. So now you can have ‘hip’ people in dress and style but not in their thinking. Their thinking even has a shadow of liberality but is conservative once you look behind the curtain. So to defend myself I have made markers of true liberals. Inclusive language is the beginning. And believe you me you can ferret out quite a few people this way. If I use the pronoun she for God and they look at me confused or with that “you must be a liberal” look I know that if [your other is a liberal] you must be a conservative if “she” for God confuses or bothers you, you must be a conservative.
Now some will say labeling people is not cool. I propose do not ask me what church I go to, where do I work or live because this is the beginning of the labeling process. Of course we label people; it is not the labeling that is the problem, it is what you do with the labels. You may not use inclusive language and in my book you are leaning conservative but I will respect you and I will assist you but I also will not go on a liberal rant (unless necessary). To be clear I do not consider myself a liberal but a radical thinker. A radical thinker does not fall cleanly into either camp. But is literally in a world unto themselves.
But I digress. Trump has shown us the patriarchy is alive and well. Use inclusive language. When this practice becomes habit you will be ready to move to a conversation about there are more than two genders discussion. Which is the discussion that is now on the plate and has its own inclusive language issues.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
I have always been a believer in small things. That one is called to do enough and not more. I know that in a world full of hurting people enough can seem so little. But enough and small are not to be confused with scarcity and unimportant. In fact you might be surprised what a small group of committed people can do as Margaret Mead once said.
But I firmly believe it is the quest for the big thing that causes the conflict in the world. I need you to move so I can have space for my project. Countries invade other countries over the perceived need to be bigger and the need for more. People take advantage of others so that their bigger and more important dreams may come into reality. I was bemused by how social agencies and the workers in them can become so territorial.
So when one sets out to create something small and useful you are proclaiming peace. I will allow space for others. It is the ultimate in conceit to think you have all the answers. But to be the dreamer of small things has problems too. People lose interest in the small and often feel compelled to move on and up. So it can be hard to keep the creative energy thriving.
If you do small things well you have opportunities to do more. Which is okay if you can keep the “small is beautiful” with each new venture. But the temptation grows exponentially harder with the rise in opportunities to think big. Plus if you remain small people do not have the appreciation for what you do. The big shiny apple always appeals to the eye and the taste buds.
One other problem is the big thinkers are always looking to take over. They promise they can deliver what you are doing and more. And in fact they can, especially at first. They put all their resources to the project and work hard to make it right but inevitably they move on and leave a shadow of what once was.
Yet in the final analysis those who think small are the ones who will creatively deliver and never lead us into war.
The heartbreak of my life has been the advent of cultural Christianity. This is Christianity which is informed more by prevalent culture than the teachings of Christ. While I may loosely call myself a non-religious Christian I do respect and have incorporated the teachings of this “Jesus” fellow into my life. For this I have at times paid.
What keeps me up at 3am wanting to twitter is people who have no concept of the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount but want to be classified as Christian because they attend church and swear over and over they love Jesus. I grew up Southern Baptist. The Southern Baptist churches I grew up in were conservative but left room for difference by allowing each person with their Bible and working with the Spirit to choose their own path. I felt loved and cared for in those early Baptist churches. But with the advent of the Moral Majority the Southern Baptist convention was hijacked. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary one of the grandest in the world when I was there was converted into a fundamentalist headquarters of such. Every professor I had was dismissed or saw the writing on the wall and left within five years. The Religion and Arts school gone, the Social Work school gone, female theologians gone, and conservative theologians that did not hold the new creedal line gone. At the last annual meeting of the Convention I observed Ollie North (believer in speaking in tongues, and the second filling of the spirit both anathema to even the new Baptist teaching) was the key note speaker. He spoke in the midst of the Iran Contra Scandal. Now if this was not bad enough during his speech a three story flag was unfurled behind him and most pastors had a small flag which they waved during his speech. Baptists who once were the prophets of separation of church and state were now hoping for a theocracy. There was no turning back.
So here I offer you,You might be a cultural Christian if:
· You attend church regularly and never hear a single social gospel sermon.
· You are anti-gay and do not know Jesus never referenced homosexuality and do not know where all the references of homosexuality are found in the Bible.
· If you have trouble understanding people who are different from you.
Of course this is only a partial list if you want share some of your own. Finally, cultural Christianity is defined in a nutshell as when anything else is treated as more edifying than the teachings of Christ.