Tuesday, February 9, 2010

“. . . A Knife to a Gunfight”

By Eric Von Salzen

In a comment to a recent post of mine, a commenter (Chris H.) referred to a post on the Anglican Curmudgeon blog about a discussion “between atheist author [Christopher] Hitchens and a progressive priest” as proof that “liberalism [is] as damaging to faith as Creationism”. Point well taken.

The Curmudgeon was kind enough to link to one of my Anglican Centrist posts a couple of months ago, and I’m happy to link to one of his.

In The Kingdom Of The Blind provides excerpts from a discussion between the fervent atheist Christopher Hitchens and a retired Unitarian minister (not, thank goodness, a priest). Although the minister describes herself as a Christian, she believes that the God, Christ, and the scriptures are true only “metaphorically”. It’s the atheist who has the best line:

[I]f you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

Amen, brother.

This discussion proves – if the point needed proving – how useless it is for professed Christians to try to make their religion acceptable to secularists by diluting all the “God stuff” out of it. The secularists won’t buy it; why should they? And commenter Chris H. (not to be confused, I trust, with Christopher Hitchens) is right that it damages our faith.

The Anglican Curmudgeon is too kind in the title to his post (if he means that the Unitarian minister is the one-eyed person in the kingdom of the blind). I think the title I’ve chosen for this post describes the situation about right.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Can You Go Home?

Can you go home?

As Buechner tells us, a longing for home is a universal human thing. We all long for home...where it's safe, and warm, and comforting. Home's a place we were made for -- and we've tried to make them wherever we can, whether cave, caravan or condo.*

Since God knit us together in our mothers' wombs, we have yearned to be connected, cared for, and expected at home.

But, can you go home?

Home is what we long to go to -- and come from -- and work towards. And yet, so much of this life involves our leaving home. In good ways and bad.

Certainly a big part of growing up is leaving home, and making a new one.

But, can you go home?

Jesus had a hard time at home. Consider his home life. His first home was a barn. Then he lived on the lamb in Egypt as a refugee from Herod. Then he was raised in a podunk town. And in his religious homelife -- the synagogue where he knew them all and spent his faithful young life tried to kill him, and the Temple which he called "His Father's House" did eventually get him killed.

Yes, even Jesus had it hard at home (and his parents were saints.)

What about you?

Home, like life, can be a mixture of hopes and hurts. Maybe like Jesus you feel you cannot be yourself when you return home -- either to parents, family, hometown, friends, or whatever. Maybe you don't now. Maybe you've had to start a new life, away from too much hurt at home, and not enough hope.

I think we all struggle to match the inner yearning for home with the realities of where we are.

Jesus presents the Good News in an interesting way. I believe he presents the Kingdom of God as the fulfillment of our longing for home. If one substitutes the word 'home' for 'Kingdom' you can see what I mean. Imagine if he said, "home is a place of enrichment, it is good news for the poor in body, mind and soul." Or, "home is a place of liberation, not captivity." Or, "home is a place of light and vision, not shadow."

Jesus tells us that God's dream is that all people have a home like this -- ideally on earth as in heaven.

The Good News of Jesus is that He has come to build the way to that home, and to offer us the building materials for building such heavenly homes on earth (as best we can with God's help.)

The building materials of such homes are grace, mercy, forgiveness, and above all, love. Love not for self, but for other.

These building materials are precious, and of course, we can't forge them ourselves. This is where our prayer life and corporate life in Christ come in -- we must obtain all we need to build our Kingdom homes from the Maker himself.

Can you go home? Allow Christ to bring you by His way.