Friday, May 28, 2010

For the Lutherans

The local ELCA Lutheran congregation voted on Sunday to leave the national church over the social statement adopted last summer.

One of my best friends and her family have been members of this congregation for over twenty years. As good country folk, the church was their social community and home away from home; relationships formed in church were very important to them, and the Lutheran spirituality permeated their lives.

This Sunday, though, things changed. It has been brewing for a long time; the pastor had made it very clear in the pulpit that he wanted to take the congregation out of the ELCA. The congregation has been breaking into two groups, and there was little Christian charity from one side toward the other. No room for disagreeing on 'the gay issue.' No room for sharing at Christ's table for those who, in good faith and conscience, held to a position that others disagreed with. One side just couldn't have that. There is no compromising the 'purity' of the faith.

There were some underhanded political moves as well. Human beings are political beings.

The pain I saw in their faces hurt me deeply. The actions on Sunday were divorce and death at the same time. I know that they'll persevere. They're not giving up, as the vote won't be final until ninety days from now. They'll keep trying to heal wounds and exorcise demons that work so hard to fracture and destroy the Body of Christ (Yes, I say exorcise; when hate, pride, and schism abound, I say something dark is at work). Will it work? I have no clue. But I know them, and I know the depth of their faith. That doesn't erase the pain, though.

Saturday, May 15, 2010



The cornerstone of the stereotype of Europeans. The hallmark of disillusioned college students.

I've noticed it a lot more in myself lately. I don't know if it's just the continued rancor in the national discourse. I don't know if it's just a dissatisfaction with my life as it is. I don't know if it's just a feeling of aimlessness since I'm a lot less sure about my life than I was just a year ago. I don't know if it's just loneliness and a fear that I won't find a romantic partner.

Safest bet is that all of those are working together to breed cynicism in me.

Cynicism is so incredibly destructive. Not only does it destroy hope, but it also actively attacks anything positive. It refuses to believe that anything can change for the better. Considering that hope is a fundamental Christian value, it's easy to see why cynicism is a sin.

I wonder how many people in this country would see cynicism as sinful. I know it's taken time for me to see the effects of it in my life. My commentary during the morning news used to be insightful; now it's just spiteful. The great progress on positive self-image I've made in the last few years takes hits as my cynicism turns inward.

What's the remedy for such a brutal sin which tries to eradicate any hope?

For me, I'm not sure. Now that I see it, I can be aware of its harmful effects. Finding the cure will be more difficult. I will, with God's help, try to loosen the hold that cynicism has on me. It'll be highly appropriate, since a good friend of mine and her children will be baptized on Pentecost! What better time to break the hold of something destructive?