Friday, July 28, 2006

What happens inside you when you hear the word, "Evengelical". You have a response, don't you? You feel strongly aligned with the word, or strongly opposed to the word, and what it means for you, true? I have yet to meet someone that is completely neutral about this branch of Christianity.
Remember the 4th of July carwash story? I was with my cousin and her husband, a pastor and wife team from an Evengelical church in the Chicago area. We had all been together for a family reunion. My family is large and far-flung. Descendants of a Baptist minister, all of us, we couldn't be more divergent in our current religious beliefs, or non-beliefs. My cousin and her husband were debriefing about the reunion, and the different responses they evoked from relatives, just by their presence in a conversation. Whether or not they opened their mouths, whether or not they agreed or disagreed, "approved or disapproved", they were judged as judges. Nobody asked them what they thought about something, or how they arrived at their thinking, they just assumed.
This was hard for them. They had driven three young children across the country to re-unite with their families. They had open minds, open hearts, and were eager to have meaningful conversations and connections with relatives long unseen. They had not driven thousand of miles in the heat of the summer to stand in judgment. They had driven out of love, to be "with", not "against". Few gave them a chance.
Whatever your religious beliefs or allignment, do you agree with every single other person of the same? What about politics? Are you a democrat? Republican? Green Party? Do you agree with every person walking the party line? Are we not a country founded on free speech, free thought, and free choice? Are we not willing to extend these rights to those with whom we don't agree, or scarier yet, with those whom we fear don't agree with us? Why do we feel so threatened?
"Those Evengelical zealots on TV are just as disturbing to me, as they are to other people," my cousin's husband commented. Had I ever considered this? No, I'm ashamed to admit. I, too, assumed that Evengelicals were all for one and one for all. How dare I? How DARE I?
I'm sorry. You have taught me an important lesson, and I thank you. Now I'm going to go pray for sun.


Suzy said...

Fantastic piece Carrie. I am guilty of this type of "labelling" when it comes to Catholicism, but only because it was instilled in me, very early on that the Catholic Way" was the only way we would get to heaven and be saved. I tend to run fast and far from Catholics that believe in this nonsense.

kario said...

I think we all need to remember that most of what we see and hear in the media are the extremes. That's what makes for good news. The vast majority of people walking the earth are "normal" like us. The passions of those extreme people get away with them and they tend to make waves more than us normal folks, so we hear about them more often. Good reminder, Carrie!

Michelle O'Neil said...

This is a great post Carrie. I had a similar wake up with the responses to my recent teletubby post. I was moved by the vehement response of other Christians to Falwell and his ideology.

Wanda Tucker said...

I appreciate the reminder about what happens when we assume we know what the other guy is thinking, feeling, believing, or standing for. Just because we have a bad experience with a _____________ [fill in the blank] doesn't mean they are all alike.

I get very upset when someone tells me what I think or what I mean, rather than letting me speak for myself. I need to extend the same courtesy and respect to the theys in my life.

Ziji Wangmo said...

Great post. It makes me think of ways that I discriminate against members of my own family having left the Episcopal church to become a Budhhist. We all need to be open to one another -tolerant and open. Thanks. I think we are all trying to find the divine one way or another.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Carrie. I don't label myself...but the rest of the world does. I have a relationship with God - a covenant. Because of that my family calls me the "religious freak." I find in our culture today it is MUCH more accepting to be Buddhist, atheist, even Catholic. But, call yourself a Christian and people run. It comes with a big fat label and it makes me sad. I want to love God. Just like others love Buddha or Mary, or nothing. I feel like I have to be so careful who I tell that to because I don't want to be labeled. It is a constant tug and pull. Thanks for this piece Carrie. I so appreciate your writing and your insight. It is so honest.

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