I think that the single most impressive thing that Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has done so far is to utter the sentence, "We've got to stop being the stupid party." He was speaking as a Republican, but that isn't the issue today.
Christians are getting the label of the stupid party, or in this case perhaps the stupid religion, and there is a reason. Low-information evangelicals ratchet up the uncivil discourse with wild nonsense about our daily news, such as the predictions that if Cardinal Turkson is elected Pope he will fulfill the warnings in the Book of Revelation, and be the last Pope or the Antichrist (or both).
That is actually a departure from the initial hysteria about President Barack Obama being the Antichrist, but that isn't a big thing to them. The evangelical fear-mongers are nothing if not topical. But I noticed an article today on the Internet that seems very sensible, and I will add my thoughts.
Steve McSwain, who describes himself as spiritual but not religious, put an article on the Huffington Post called Six Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying. His points are well taken, I think, because what he deals with is the "stupid party" things that primitive Christians keep bomb-throwing into the media in what I suppose are acts of defiance: I'm ignorant and I'm proud! Just try to do me something!
Okay, well you are entitled to your opinions. And you are entitled to build your own walled community and shut yourself in, but you can't have it both ways. If you want to congregate with your fellow True Believers, it ought to be clear that the world in general isn't going to go along with you.
The available option of primitive Christians is to stick together, because they have failed dismally at trying to impose their beliefs on the American society at large. So it would be good if they followed McSwain's advice and just stopped saying things like, "The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God."
Pay attention here: nobody says you can't believe that. But if you want to, you are going to have to accept that such beliefs are an uphill battle. Those of you who resist what I am saying can do this: most of us know the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers to get rid of him, but the question is to whom was Joseph sold? If you look in the Old Testament you will find two different answers, and there isn't any getting around it. Look it up for yourself.
Another thing that Author McSwain objects to is the idea that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Of course there isn't anything wrong with this idea if you will go to the trouble of defining your terminology.
Do the primitive Christians mean that you must convert before death or else? Obviously they do, but the idea that Jesus is still around on the Other Side throws a monkey wrench into the theology. He could be ready to interview everybody over there, regardless of what they did while on this side, couldn't he? So he just might have his rubber stamp that we can all get imprinted on the foreheads of our risen bodies, which makes this whole denomination thing moot at best.
McSwain also makes a devastating comment on the continuing created crisis about LGBT people when he quotes his own son, who is honest enough to give us all a pause for thought:
"My son said it well the other day. We were discussing homosexuality and same-sex marriage and he observed, 'Dad, it's your generation that's hung up on these issues. Once you guys get out of the way and the younger generation moves into the decision-making arena, these issues will disappear. The day will come when, just as slavery is unthinkable in our consciousness today, it will be equally unthinkable to deny anyone the right to be who they are or the right to same-sex marriage.'"
Some of the anti-gay hysterical evangelicals seem to think that world domination is just around the corner, but their Rapture-predicting preachers have scored 100% wrong so far, haven't they? You would think that they would look at themselves in the mirror and observe their gray hair and aging faces (like I do) and think that perhaps they aren't going to get the world on a string before they die, since most of them are in their seventh or eighth decade of life right now.
McSwain ends his article with a declaration that is right up there with his son's blunt appraisal of contemporary bigotry when he ends by saying:
"Now, there is one thing I think all Christians, including me, should remember -- no, should practice (and we should practice this between ourselves first, too) -- and that is the one simple thing Jesus once said would be the one-and-only thing the world would know us by...
"Not our beliefs.
"Not our doctrines.
"Not our denomination's distinctions.
"Not even our declarations.
"Jesus said, 'They will know you are my disciples by your love.'" [John 13:35]
When you have a church community that is actually involved in demonstrating love to the community at large, as I enjoy and appreciate at the Episcopal Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Tucson, your heart breaks when a man like McSwain disavows religiosity and simply describes himself as spiritual. Obviously the Church has failed people like this, but I continue to say to any unchurched spiritual pilgrims, including LGBT Christians, that the Progressive Congregational Church, the Episcopal Church, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the United Church of Christ and the Unity Church--among others--welcome you just as you are.
For more info: find McSwain's article in full on the Religion or the Front Page of the Huffington Post. However, it will drop off the front page and go to the religion page over the next couple of days.