Wednesday, May 5, 2021

A New Song & New Direction

 A reflection I read this morning based on Psalm 98 ended by saying,

"What new song is God inviting you to sing?"

Indeed, it is time long past overdue for Christianity to sing a new song.  When those who have claimed the most loudly and fiercely that they are the 'true believers," yet they lift Donald Trump up as their messiah king - a man who no more lives out the acts and prayers of Jesus than a fly can lift a car -- there is trouble in the Christian theological realm. 

The Christian theological realm has had a heavy "Orthodox" overture for nearly a thousand years that arose in a vastly different time, culture, and worldview.  So much has changed.  Yet, Christianity has limped along carrying perspectives of life from the Dark Ages; perspectives that survive only in the smallest and darkest of earth's places - wee human hearts with stuck imaginations and dysfunctional neuropathways.

There is a scene in The Mission*, where the former soldier newly converted to Christianity is assigned the penance of carrying his heavy armor up the cliffs of a high waterfall. Nearing the top he cuts the cord and the armor clatters down the rocky face.  This is an image in my head of how we must cut the cord that holds back the church with the worn, tired theologies of some epistle writers, St. Augustine, Anselm, and other "church fathers" (Euro-Caucasian fathers.) I don't expect a single one of them expected for their refrains to still be reverberating the way they do in 2021!

New more profound understandings of the unique unfolding of life on this planet, the global interconnections, the fragility of health in the midst of toxicity generated through human avarice and indifference, vulnerabilities to pathogens after a long period of supposedly conquering them, the struggle to hold on to democratic principles that all people are created equal are demanding a new song, a new word of inspiration.  The old formulations of sacrificial or substitutionary atonement are nonsensical in the 21st century.  The ancient lineages of authoritarian abuses taint and a "top-down hierarchical structure" to the Christian faith leave most post-modern people cold. 

The following Christian-held doctrines have (honestly) never held much sense under the spotlight of Divine love or the teachings of Jesus:

  1. The idea that a "loving" God has to nail someone on a cross to "pay" for one's "bad" behavior.
  2. That God authorizes human authority to burn, drown, draw & quarter, nail to crosses, disembowel, chop, behead, ostracize, exile, banish... anyone because their beliefs didn't match up with the letter of that group of human's enacted law.
  3.  Heaven has a specific location "up there" with St. Peter guarding the gate and streets of gold.
  4. Hell has a specific location "down there," and it is run by a red man in horns with a pitchfork (i.e. Satan, the devil, Beelzebub.)
  5.  Humans have "dominion" over the earth, so, for the dominate "good Christian authority" it is okay to burn, cut down, bulldoze, concrete, asphalt, pollute, hunt to extinction, or commit genocide against all creatures great, small, prescient or not.
  6. The mentally ill and others (including LGBTQ, midwives & herbalists, witches, non-white...) are demon possessed and must submit to painful exorcism and "re-indoctrination," or in our modern times be marginalized from every Christian assembly.
  7. The assumption that nobody experiences the presence of God on their own without the proper indoctrination of how to think, live, talk, and be in "the right" church.
These are just a start on naming why a new song is needed.  The Christian faith did not start out as an individualistic saving grace with most of its power waiting in "eternity" for the beloved to die in order to receive it.  It didn't start out as a weapon of fear used to scare people into faith and thereby submission to the ruling authority or class.

It was initially a communal fellowship of believers who frequently ate together and shared all they had.  Looking to Jesus for the model for life, he ate with tax collectors and sinners, fed people, and pretty diligently worked to remove boundaries that isolated or separated "the least of these." While he was clear his intent wasn't to wipe away the model of  "The Law" (of Moses), his acts focused, for all who would follow him, on "loving God and one another as yourself."  For this "radical" re-ordering of the religious habits he was judged to be a revolutionary disrupter and turned over to Rome under false testimonies to be killed.

We need to get more engaged in confessing the hurt this false co-optation has caused and work more diligently to bring forth a clear articulation that warring with the devil is not the purpose of Christ.  Bringing forth communities of love, caring and sharing all that we have is the goal.  I will be attempting to sound some chords for new songs in all future blogs. 



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