Saturday, May 31, 2014

Part 2 of "The Atheists who are Better at Christianity..."

I've been thinking over what I wrote last week, regarding what I'm looking for and the people that I see. I'm realizing that there very well could be clarification.

There is a goal that I am working toward and I must admit that it has been informed by my Christian upbringing. It is an ideal that was set forth by Christ at the Last Supper. He said simply "Love each other." It is a simple thing that proves to be very difficult to live into, which is why I call it an ideal, rather than a mandate.

In my last post, I said that "I am trying to find the people who are willing to be honest. I am trying to find the people who will whole heartedly show who they are..." What I believe is that honest people, whole hearted people, will naturally make efforts to enter into relationship with others. And once they've entered into relationship with others, the whole hearted ones will offer support and compassion and generally demonstrate a concern for the well being of the person with whom they are now related. In this, I see the ideal that Christ gave.

So I say that I am looking for people who are willing to be honest and whole hearted. I think that gathering these people together can become a force for good change; that the world could become a more humane place and less violent. However, here is where I must add the clarification that I don't think I stated explicitly in my last post: I don't care what has informed someone's drive to enter into loving relationship with others in the world. 

I admit that my sense of this drive has been informed by the stories of Christ, handed down through my religious tradition. But as whole hearted and honest people gather together, I will not refuse to work with another whole hearted person just because their sense of this was informed by secular humanist principals, or by Buddhist tradition, or formed in reaction to atrocities that the person has seen. I will not refuse to work with someone just because their path leading up to this point is different than mine. If I am to work with someone, all I demand is that this person has a concern for others and that they take action as a result of that concern.

So what makes me sad or angry is when I encounter people who set things up to the exclusion of others. It's like saying "We're going to do this good thing, but you can't help us do good because you haven't been a part of our club, so therefor you're bad and you can't do good." That's a really small minded, depressing thing to hear. I think that good is an objective value of something, so the objective Goodness of something is there, no matter the reasons why someone is doing it.

This is intended to be a short blog (which I don't know whether I've accomplished) because I only sought to clarify what I wrote last week (also not sure whether I've accomplished that). My point is that, as I seek to live in the light of the Risen Christ, I feel that that drives me to seek and serve others. And as I do that, I feel that it is important to join with others who are also seeking to serve, regardless of whether or not they are Christians. Goodness is good, regardless of who is doing it. And I think the world just needs more Goodness.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Atheists who are Better at Christianity than Christians

So I found this video a while back. It's from a series called Have a Little Faith and it's syndicated by a YouTube channel I really like called SoulPancake. The host, Zach Anner, is a really enthusiastic guy and I think he has zero qualms about asking wild questions of individuals who represent various belief systems. The video itself is from his visit to the Sunday Assembly, which is an Atheist community in Los Angeles.

From what I saw in the video, I concluded that this particular group of Atheists are interested in fostering the well-being of its members, fostering a sense of community (by eating together and hosting other activities) and they are also particularly interested in civic engagement. These areas of interest reminded me of something I wrote previously about living as Easter people. It seems like this group of Atheists are quite adept at living as Easter people, even though they don't believe in what Easter is. But regardless, it seems that the Atheists in this Sunday Assembly are more loving and compassionate than most Christians, who are supposed to be identified by their love and compassion.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Living Life While Serving Around the Table

How do we, as Easter people, live in the light of the Risen Christ? I've been asking myself this question for four weeks now. I don't think I've got any real concrete answers. I think I've got lots of ideas. Which is great; I'm glad that, through thinking about this, I've been able to discover a few things for myself. Though I do wish that others would leave comments to help me explore the topic...

This week, I'm finding that a return to the Revised Common Lectionary for the Fifth Sunday of Easter sheds some light on the issue. Well... I shouldn't say the whole lectionary is helpful. The gospel this week is from John, from before Jesus' crucifixion, which means that it's kind of odd to have as an Eastertide reading. But hey, last week was a reading from even earlier in John, depicting the parable of the Good Shepherd. So whatever.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Grocery Store Question

I'm still entertaining this question about how we, as Easter People, should live in the light of the Risen Christ. It's a perfect time of year, since we're in the season of Easter. And I'm excited to keep looking into this as we approach the celebration of Pentecost and the season that follows that. I'm also realizing that there was a lot of fodder for my question that I came across during the Three Holy Days. Some of it I saved and documented (some of it I didn't, unfortunately) but the following blog is based on one of those pieces.

So this tweet from Jim Naughton (and my response) went out on Good Friday:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Do Penguins Go To Church?

Recently in my blog posts, I said that I wanted to explore the ways that we can live in the light of the Risen Christ during this Easter season (and beyond, for the record). As a matter of tradition, baptisms are most appropriate during Eastertide (or at the Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday, if it works out that way), as are confirmations. These are both sacramental traditions that give an outward and visible sign to the inward and spiritual grace that we Christians can live into as Easter people.

So, yesterday was the day for confirmation in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota's East Metro Mission Area and also day one for the Mission Area Gathering. I'm not going to explain that whole phrase, just look here. The point is that individual Episcopal faith communities around the East Metro brought people to be confirmed, received and reaffirmed in the Episcopal Church and I was asked to serve at the altar. That meant that I got to sit up in the front of the sanctuary, facing everyone assembled. Which meant I could see who was paying attention, who was "listening with their eyes closed," and which kids really wanted to be doing something else on a Saturday.

For those of you wondering about the purpose of this ritual, it is essentially the renewal and confirmation of baptismal vows. Since we have a tradition of infant baptism in the Episcopal Church, the baptismal vows are (most often) made on our behalf by parents and godparents. If the individual was an infant when the vows were made, it is then up to each individual to make those vows on their own later in life. Well... it's supposed to be up to the individual. Many teenagers do it at the time that their parents or youth director think is best. And by "think is best" I mean that many programs think the end of 9th or 10th grade is a great time for teenagers to analyze, accept and confirm their baptismal vows. BUT this is not a post commenting on this facet of the tradition and I digress...