On excluding people: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

another blog by Neil Hart on gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.Hey, thanks everyone for your responses. I wish this was more like a newspaper where everyones comments went up as articles. but, as it is…I play the part of the journalist and everyone elses comments take on a “letter to the editor” status. sorry about that!

(Liar Neil! You LOVE it. You love the power… go on.. admit it…admit it…)

[SHUT UP CONSCIENCE!….. Ego?…. Ego? where are you my sweet? ahhh , there you are…come rub my shoulders, baby….mmmmmm….sigh… better now…mmmmmm…better now…]

anyways reader, there was one comment that especially got my attention. Its in the barney and buck blog if you want the full text. but…there are 2 little thoughts in the comment id like to pick up on.

Thought One: “Well, as Lutherans, we are bound to have a lot in common…”.

That has not been my experience AT ALL. My years in the parish taught me that people’s views are incredibly divergent, even in the same denomination, even in the same congregation, even in the same family and…even on the most basic and important of doctrines. Holy Communion for example.

I took to doing a little spot quiz when i was speaking sometimes. I would describe the room we were in as representative of the whole of the christian church’s divergent views on the lord’s supper. against one wall was the view that the bread and the wine were actually and in their totality, the body and blood of Christ, so much so that if we were to bring some of the bread (body) home we could set it up in a corner, light candles and pray to it. (coz its Jesus….get it?..ok).

against the other wall was te view that this is simply a representative meal. It is just bread and wine/ grape juice/ whatever. In fact, to think of the bread and the wine as body and blood of Jesus is abhorrent. (yuck!) nothing special about it  except that it helps us remember and think about what jesus did for us. In the room between these 2 extreme views  is an imaginary line that represents the diversity of opinion from one of those extremes to the other.

I would then ask the people in the room(usually lutheran-church-member-type people) to go and stand where they belong,..to let their opinion on holy communion dictate whether they are in the middle, (not worshipping the bread but thinking that there is much more to it than just  thinking about jesus)  lots or slightly to the left? or lots or slightly to the right. Every time i have done that exercise, including a group at a pastor’s conference, people have stood all the way along the line from one side to the other (although i dont think anyone ever put themselves right against either wall). So it seems to me that the idea of people united under common doctrine is not entirely realistic.

Thats the problem i have with the concept of church “membership”.  if membership is to be based on a common understanding of basic theological principles, then which segment of people should i let into the church? which group was truly lutheran? the centre? the right? the left? the centre left? (starting to sound like a Labour Party caucus meeting yeh? ) Who is in? who is out? try as i might, i could never bring myself to even ask the question.

I struggled with this for some time until i came to a conclusion. I am not comfortable thinking of christain gatherings as some kind of club with defined boundries and entry rules and conditions. Especially where those rules might be used to exclude people, on whatever grounds. I am much more comfortable thinking of christian gatherings as families, where people belong, no matter what. (even old uncle forsythe who was arrested and charged last year for some embarrasing sexual stuffs. He is still family. He is still “IN” coz we really don’t know how to do “OUT” in our family. We just dont leave him alone with the kids any more).

Dont get me wrong. I think there is definitely a place for denominational emphasis. they should be voiced with all the vigour and passion that they deserve. because that particular voice is needed in the world. every shade and colour of the nature of God, encapsulate by all the different traditions…all voiced and listened to and learned from respected, honoured and celebrated .  But i see no need for the full expression of one emphasis to be made at the necessary exclusion of others.

I like language and practise that calls gathers and unites and I have an aversion to language and practise that clasifies, seperates and divides (i think im even allergic to it). Like the language in the constitution of every Lutheran congregation in australia.

In common with the LCA, the Church (congregation) regards unity in doctrine and its application in practice as the necessary prerequisite for church fellowship, and it rejects religious syncretism or unionism in all its forms.  It therefore adheres to the principle: Lutheran pulpits are for Lutheran Pastors only. Lutheran altars are for Lutheran communicants only.

(Damn. I think i started getting a rash just copying and pasting it. I tried wearing protective clothing, filter mask and everything. I think i breathed in some dogma hair and its reacting with my syncretism)

…hmmmm….so much for family :(…and.. believe me… this statement IS in every congregation’s constitution. I know. coz we tried to drop it out of ours some years back and we weren’t allowed. If u wanna be a congregation of the LCA, your constitution has to have that bit in it!

IDK. cant we all just play nicely together???

ok. enough of that…for now….although im sure the issue will raise its head again in the near future. Back to the comment from the barney and buck blog.

Thought Two: “On homosexuality, There is a proscription to even eat with such an immoral person. 1 Cor. 5:11”

Ok. this is prolly the main reason i wanted to start a blog, to have a good hard critical look at our churches view on homosexuality and all things  GLBT (google it). Man! thats one hard nosed approach. Weren’t we just talking about clubs and families and inclusion/ exclusion language and practise?…If this were for real..this attitude that homosexuals were so immoral that we shouldnt even eat with them…then there would be quite a few lutheran dinner tables tonight with one empty chair.

Or…maybe there already are…the thought of it makes me sick. Broken homes, broken and divided families, broken hearts…(Dear Jesus, did I, as a leader in your Church, by my speaking… or even by my silence…contribute to the propogation of this kind of hate? Forgive me Lord, because, I think, by my silence, i may have.)

I know a dear lady, a very dear lady who is well into her eighties now. She has a heart as big as the ocean, passion for God and a desire to do his will, a servant heart and a generous spirit. Moreover, she is not one of these peope who, as they have gotten older, has become narrow and entrenched in her views. Nope! she has continued to grow and has allowed her wisdom of years to make her slow to criticise and quick to forgive. Yup. She is a good person…

except…

The other day i was talking to her about a homosexual person we know. she said “it” was an “abomination”. thats the word she used. “abomination” coz apparently, thats what the bible says about “it”.

She said “it” but  I guess she meant “he”, the person. or… did she think that the person could so easily be seperated from the “abomination”. Did she think that his sexuality, his deep desires, who he is attracted to, who he dreams about, who he loves,,,that that part of him could be cut away and help up as an “it”. Coz i know it doesnt work that way with me.  My sexuality is a incredibly important and inseperable part of me,. No, i think that she meant “he” is an abomination.

(how do you do one of thoses smiley face that is crying lots and lots of tears? how can such a good heart harbour such hateful language and such a harmful attitude?)

Steven Weinberg is an american physicist who won the 1979 nobel prize in physics for combining electromagnetism and the weak force into the electroweak force. More recently, he has written some papers arguing that the smallness of the cosmological constant is due to the anthropic principle.

Now,,,ummm…reader…i have to confess something. I dont have the first idea of what that means. and…i dont really care.

But Steve Weinberg also said this…

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

I understand… and i care….

Reader… are you there still?   Reader…is he right? :(