“Haud Metus. Haud Fastosus.” That’s my personal motto. It means “No Fear. No Pride.”…I think. Maybe it means “No Pride. No Fear.” I can’t really remember. It’s been a while since I looked it up on an online Latin/English translator. Those things are unreliable anyway. But I believe that’s what it means, I guess that’s the important thing.
I originally made my slogan for my lucrative career in sales. It hung above my desk in that bold impact font. You can’t sell something with fear or pride. You have to be this whimpering fool begging for a sale or you’ll starve to death. But you can’t let anyone know you are whimpering fool. If you do you look like a pathetic whiner, then no one will buy anything from you. You have to be confident and ooze charisma while secretly, on the inside, you’re crying.
I got rid of pride because I don’t really care what anyone thinks about me. Unless of course my hair’s messed up or my fly is down or something is stuck in my teeth. And fear was kinda pointless because what’s really to fear besides AIDS, random gun violence, and facebook addiction? Okay, so maybe pride and fear have their places. The jury is still out. Maybe we should have some sort of governmental department of concerned citizens to debate the merits of these things along with honor, political correctness, and internet smilies :). We’ll call it the Department Of Personality Enforcement, or DOPE, for short.
I swear I was going somewhere with this…
Oh yeah, the church. Pride. Fear. I should construct some sort of coherent thought out of this. At least I thought I should a coupl’a minutes ago. Upon further consideration the matter looks to cause unnecessary trouble…but what are church magazines for?
I was talking with this fella the other day. A maniac. Going on and on about the queers and those dern Nazi liberals and the ongoing slaughter of the nation’s unborn. The whole planet was at risk. The church was being overrun and corrupted by evolutionary theory and Nancy Pelosi’s private jet. Civilization, or what was left of it, was on the verge of collapse which most likely would result in worldwide genocide of the nation’s Protestants or some-such. The guy was a nut. The guy owned a lot of fear. You can buy the stuff cheap on Ebay, I hear. This guy bought it by the case load.
I don’t know what you can do about this sort of thing. If you hold this perspective it has to be coupled with unrelenting religious legalism. No one can enter the temple without some sort of ceremonial cleansing. Which brings up the question: Will baptism cleanse the Democrat off of you? And if not, should there be trials by fire? And, if trials by fire are required, should we charge admission?
All of those are fine and dandy questions. Maybe, if we thunk on it really, really hard we could answer them. And if not, we’ll send it to DOPE who is sure to have loads of idle time.
But these kinds folks produce another set of people I equally fear. I guess in some attempt to erase perceived radical legalism there’s a whole new crop of Christians. Christians who want to open the door to anything and anyone. The Bible no longer is the inerrant word of God, religious pluralism should be the norm, God is really a vegan. Who knew?
I was talking to friend, we’ll call her Joan the Priest because that’s who she is. And for a female priest at an independent Progressive Catholic Church we agree a lot (though not all the time.). Do we really want a church that is so open that God doesn’t really matter? When does a Christian church begin to not be Christian anymore? The Conservatives bar the doors so no-one can come in and the lefties take the doors off the hinges and knock down the walls while they’re at it. Do people want to come to church where they don’t feel welcome? And if we get rid of God so people feel welcome, will anyone come? To answer both, I don’t think so. Why come to church because it’s good for the neighborhood with it’s soup kitchens and tree hugger bumper-stickers and advocacy of women’s rights? Those things might be swell but you don’t need to come to church for them. All of those are widely available outside of church sanctuaries. People come to church to seek God. The church should be there to help people find their way. You cannot accomplish that mission by selecting pre-approved converts. And you certainly cannot do it by making gospel-less disciples.
I know there are many moderates at church. I’m not talking about political moderates, but moderates of a different stripe. Those who see the need to open up the doors gently, with much humility, and maybe even a little chagrin. We might still fear but the amazing thing about humility is that it understands priorities. We might not agree on the role or women in the church or the much overhyped state of sexual orientation or whether or not white privilage is a pressing issue within American social structures. We don’t necessarily need to. We need to begin agreeing where it matters most: Within our own hearts and congregations to meet the spiritual and physical needs of those whom we serve and worship with. But to do that fear of the unknown and our own issues of pride need to be put aside.
Will you join me in gently opening the doors? Refilling our baptismals? Welcoming the oppressor and the oppressed alike? I look forward to it.
If not, will you prayerfully appeal to God before you tie me up and send me off DOPE?