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Friday, February 25, 2005

Join the Choir

The guff over Sponge-Bob Square-Pants (or Limp-Dick Gay-Pants, as his counter-culture fans may soon begin calling him) reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from, of all people, Barry Goldwater. On the occasion when Jerry Falwell called for “All good Christians to fight the appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court”, Mr. Conservative replied, “All good Christians should line up to kick Jerry Falwell square in the ass.”
Like many things (but not the winnable nuclear war thing) I find myself in agreement with Barry Goldwater (wait – let me take my “liberal” card out of my pocket) on this. Beyond the sheer pleasure of abusing Falwell, the truth of the matter is that the comical pursuit of all gay-related material is really a very sad statement about Christianity in general. Actually, it’s a comment about the politicized church, but the two are intertwined.
The problem is that Falwell, like James Dobson and the others in that bunch, is fully earnest in his efforts. Because they are so earnest, they chased away dissenting voices from the church decades ago. This has created a politicized church that is badly tilted toward ultra-conservatism and without any means of righting itself.
Well, so what. That’s the church they wanted and the church they worked hard to create. Let them have it and be damned with them. That’s the first thought that comes to mind. After all, one of the reasons I left the church was because of nonsense like this. The problem is that the church won’t leave me.
When I tell people I am a Christian, these are the images that swim into their consciousness. Falwell’s teary confession of enjoying a few good whores by saying, “I have sinned against you” and Swaggart’s air conditioned dog house and Oral Roberts saying, “God will take me home if I don’t raise eight million dollars” are now appended by doddering men who are so homophobic they have to attack cartoons. It’s demeaning to the faith, and by association, anyone who claims to be a believer.
When people say, “Power corrupts” they generally think of evil Senators and bureaucrats conspiring to deprive people of their freedom in some dark room. They forget that preacher and pastors have power, too. Whereas our government was set up to foil the human nature to grab for power, the church is set up to actually reward such actions and funnel those who are successful to the top. A pastor or preacher already has some credibility on understanding Holy Scripture better than the average person – it is only a step away from denouncing everything from fornication to CoCo Puffs as evil.
Most organized churches have some hierarchy for keeping maverick preachers and pastors in line. However, most are also closed to the public. As the ongoing debacle of deviant priests in the Catholic Church shows, such secrecy is a breeding ground for corruption. Good religion, like good government, takes place under the watchful eye of those most intimately effected by the decisions being made.
The problem is that liberal Christians have no real voice to denounce the penny-ante theatrical stunts of the religious right. When we collectively decided to hold our tongue and remain neutral in the ongoing culture wars, we gave up our ability to shape the discussion. Democracy only works if we participate, and we are called by ideology and theology to be immersed in the reality of the world around us.
Moses was called by God, even though he stuttered badly. We don’t need a perfect speaker, just a sincere one. We need someone with the pride to call upon a long history of liberal Christianity to galvanize action in our communities and our world, but with the humility to stand forward and admit openly when he or she has been wrong. Feet of clay are only shameful when they are wrapped in gold and silver.
I’ve already begun linking to other blogs written by liberal Christians. There are enough voices out there to have a sizable choir. However, no one wants to hear each member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing a hundred different songs simultaneously. We need someone to lead the choir. We need someone to stand before us and call out page and verse and unite us so that our mighty voice can raise sweet psalms for the edification of man and the glory of God.
The floor stands open. Nominations are being taken.

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