Friday, August 20, 2010

Jesus stirs things up

This past Sunday the good old lectionary contained one of those passages that preachers cringe at. Luke 12:49-56, a rather troubling passage about how Jesus came to cause division and bring fire to the earth. Our pastor gave a beautiful sermon about family relationships and gave a challenge to the congregation to reconcile any broken relationships with our family members and then to look beyond into our communities and world.

I'm particularly struck by that challenge this week.

Jesus says outright that he did not come to bring peace to the earth but division instead. Ouch. While awaiting the Messiah, people expected a great king who would end all conflict and bring only good things. But if we look back through history we can see how Christianity has failed in that regard: the crusades, the Inquisition, the Holocaust and countless other deeds that we Christians have committed in the name of Christ. For people who follow a man who preached love, we don't seem to be very good at loving our neighbors.

The controversy making headlines these days is the proposed Mosque near the site of the fallen World Trade Center towers in New York. Everyone seems to be outraged by this proposition and while I want to laugh at their arguments against the Mosque, I can't help but weep at their ignorance. If only these critics could understand that the people responsible for the 9/11 attacks were extremists who are about as good a representation of Islam as the Westboro Baptist Church is of Christianity. Not a fair representation of the religion at all. And yet our society is so quick to fear and hate anything possibly associated with this "evil" religion. This week polls show that 1/5 of Americans believe President Obama is Muslim. He is in fact not Muslim and even is he were it doesn't mean that he would be in cahoots with the terrorists lurking out there in the world.

So what are we (as Christians in particular) to do about this situation and the many other conflicts in the world? The last portion of the lectionary passage is telling: Christ calls us hypocrites because we know how to predict the weather better than we know how to interpret the present time. I have to chuckle at this passage because even with all our amazing technology, we still can't predict the weather with 100% accuracy. Perhaps if we stopped relying on the computers and radar and such, we'd be better in tune with what the weather is going to do by stepping outside and taking a look at the skies. In the same regard, if we stopped relying on what all those Foxy people on TV are telling us about Muslims and terrorism, we'd actually give ourselves the space to listen and understand what it is that our Muslim brothers and sisters are all about. And then maybe, just maybe, we'd have the chance to love our neighbors the way Christ calls us to.

Update: Check out John Shore's blog for a really great post about Christian/Muslim relations and how we all love Jesus.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Awkward "what are you going to school for?" conversation #41

Tonight's awkward conversation is brought to you by the pothead who was buying a bottle of Boone's Farm at our store tonight. This interaction took place at the register as I rang him up.

Customer: Whoah, you gotta tattoo?
Me: Yeah.
Customer: You don't look like the type that would have a look like you just got out of church or something.
Me: Well I am going to seminary.
Customer: Huh. Let me see that tattoo again...what is it?
Me: A stained glass window from the church I grew up in.
Customer: I knew you were the church type!
[At this point I started to chuckle, thinking maybe he doesn't know what seminary is.]
Customer: Are you from Salt Lake City? You're a Mormon right?
Me: Nope, I'm from Colorado.
Customer: No way! What part?
Me: Near Boulder.
Customer: What? Like near Nederland? Right on. So are you Mormon?
[I chuckle again at the circular conversation]
Me: No, Presbyterian.
Customer: Wow. Well at least you're going to Heaven. I'm definitely going to Hell!
Me: Well, I think you'll be alright, I don't believe in Hell.
Customer: That's a relief. Hey, I believe in you. You know that? You're one badass chick.
Me: Thanks.
Customer (walking out of the store): No Hell, huh?