I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Faith Challenges

I just got back from dropping the boy off at his first day of 2nd Grade. I hope he is handling it better than me. Of course, school is good for him, but I will miss having him around...

One of the great things about being the minister at a neighborhood church is that your kids can go to the neighborhood public school. In my case, this also means that I can walk him from the parsonage to class and then return to the church. The good thing about this morning is that I resumed this daily morning walk. It is a good time to think.

I was thinking this morning about Pat Robertson. For some reason, this Hugo Chavez thing has been bugging me more than usual. As a Christian, I am concerned by the actions of those who are most readily identified by the press with Christianity. I find that they challenge my faith. Sometimes I ask myself, "are they the real Christians? Does my view and experience of Jesus Christ actually matter in the broader debates and faith discussions? Am I really Christian at all?" I am asked this by colleagues in both the UUA (mostly) and the UCC (occasionally). So I always try to have some inkling of an answer.

These are tough questions to ask yourself and yet I do. Robertson and others so often speak with such security and assurance about who is "in" and who is "out", it can be hard to listen to them and not be swayed a bit by their world view. A view, I should add, that I do not entirely understand. In the end, I remain a Christian but, sometimes, I am a very tired one.

Upon reaching my office at the church, I took a moment to read a recent article by Doug Muder in the UU World. I haven't completely digested it yet, but it has already helped me to better understand the perspective of Robertson. I don't agree with it (Robertson's view, that is), but I think I have a better idea of where he is coming from.

I also noticed the picture (in the print version) that accompanied the article. I am still thinking about that, too. Is it supposed to reflect the artist's perception of the reality of liberal vs. conservative families, or is it to show how we would like to see ourselves and how we would like see religious fundamentalists? For those of you who do not have a copy, the "liberal" family is ethnically diverse and the "conservative" family is white. One has a sign reading "We Choose" and the other one reading "Thou Shalt". Doug writes about the two perspecives using those phrases and does a pretty good job. I am still somewhat curious about the compostion of the fundamentalist family, though. Anyway, I found the picture an interesting companion to Doug's excellent piece, calling for a less two-dimensional understanding of religious conservatives. Lots to think about this morning...