Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Appeal - A Follow-Up

If you read my last post on Enter the Rainbow but not on Facebook, you missed the 50 comment dialogue that happened there. My post was about Christian unity. The comment thread ended up being about homosexuality, which certainly was not directly responsive to what I had written, but perhaps provided a case study for the point I had actually intended to make.

To be sure, there were several commenters whose remarks were germane to the post itself, but a handful of those commenting were actually responding to the first commenter, Steve. I went to Camdenton High School with Steve – sang in the Bel Canto Singers with him, in fact. I haven’t seen him since then, and only just recently “found” him on Facebook again.

In one of his comments, Steve wrote, “Try reading the scripture and taking it for what it says instead of what makes you feel good.” This statement, of course, did not win him any fans. Because, as soon became apparent, the people who were disagreeing with him had, in fact, read the scripture and were, in fact, taking it for what it says. It just so happens that their take of what it says differs from Steve’s.

Rather than get into the specifics of their conversation, I’d like to remark on the conversation itself, and on the people participating.

One of the first to respond was Clayton, who I went to Northeast Missouri State University with – he was a few years ahead of me in the music department, in fact. He is now a UM pastor, and one of the smartest human beings I know. Clayton and I share the distinctions of being nerds in two separate areas of interest: music and religion!

Clayton’s thoughts were echoed by Cale, with whom I went to college also, but he was a few years behind me – sang in the NEMO Singers with him, in fact (or was it Cantoria by then?) He’s a few years younger than me, and he married his husband (who has almost no vowels in his name, by the way) in California.

Cale was talking back and forth with Cindy, with whom I went to Camdenton High School also, though she was a few years ahead of me – sang in the Bel Canto Singers with her, in fact. She briefly described her religious life in her comments, and I have to say it is fascinating. I’d love to hear more about how she practices her faith.

Cindy was asked a couple of questions by Kory, with whom I go to Campbell United Methodist Church – sing in the praise band with him, in fact. Kory just got married this summer and, in addition to leading the praise band, keeps track of all of our computer stuff at church. He is a poet, and a deep thinker with an artist’s soul.

Steve, Clayton, Cale, Cindy, and Kory – five people from three different chapters of my life, meeting together to talk about their beliefs. Now, Facebook is not going to be the place where we work out all our differences and end up in perfect agreement with each other. And it’s not as if that’s the goal, either.

But I’ve got to say that it was pretty cool to watch that conversation unfold over those three days. It was interesting to note that all the people in that mix are people with whom I have made music. It was a pretty good example of our vibrant, complicated, mystifying, frustrating diversity, actually.

I wish there was enough passion about the issue I was actually writing about to generate 50 comments. I’m going to keep writing about it, keep preaching it, keep living it. The unity of the body of Christ, a unity that transcends difference of opinion, a unity that celebrates diversity rather than fearing it, this unity is desperately needed as an alternative to the bitter divisiveness that seems to dominate our society these days.

Again I’ll emphasize, I hope we don’t blow it!


Kory Wilcox said...

An artist's soul, you say?! PSHAW! Clearly, I'm a business man, through and through.


John Schmalzbauer said...

Maybe this will turn into a heated/polarized debate about whether Kory is an earnest poet or a hard-nosed business man.

Maybe, he is a "bobo":

Shawn F. said...

Thank you for being you. I appreciate your commitment to reminding us all that the conversation matters.

As for your Appeal...

I wonder if we can see the alternative community proposed by Christianity as being divisive and unifying? Christians are called to live differently, foreoging sin and choosing to love God and others as much as we love ourselves. Living such a life would seem to seperate Christians from those who do not make these commitments. Divisive? I might say so. But also unifying. Unifying in the sense Christians are reminded of their own sinfulness and need for grace. We're all in the same boat even if some see it sinking and have reached out for rescue.

If I have misunderstood your use of "divisiveness" or if I've over-simplified the point, please accept my apology...I hope I didn't blow it.