Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More on religion

I've been doing a fair bit of traveling lately (with more to come.. at least 6 more plane trips in the next month) and getting on a plane always seems to inspire what little spiritual energy resides in me. Take off and landing move me to prayer. I'd like to think that this is not a result of a fear of flying (at least not really.. perhaps just an acknowledgment that flying in a plane puts my safety almost completely in the hands of others and, sometimes at least, in the hand of chance or god (take your pick)) but more a fear of pain and death (same difference?). At the moment when a plane starts to jettison down the runway I always find myself thinking "God, please bless this flight." This incantation is usually repeated when my stomach jumps a bit at the sound of wheels and pressure being lowered as the plane heads for home.

Who am I to ask God to bless my travels; and who is this God I'm supposedly speaking to? If there is a God and he picks favorites to bless or curse I certainly have done very little worship-wise to buy my way into his good graces so why should he bless me especially when he has forsaken so many others (who are often arguably more virtuous)? On the other hand... I'm a good person, I smile at strangers and try to give a little to charity -- so why not me? But then why should I have to remind God to save my ass with my little chant? Isn't he omniscient? Shouldn't he know (or at least presume) that I would not enjoy dying in a plane crash?

Twice in one day people.
Reading this article: Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock

I found this especially poignant:
“More and more people are saying this has gone too far — the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right,” Mr. McLaren said. “You cannot say the word ‘Jesus’ in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word ‘Christian,’ and you certainly can’t say the word ‘evangelical’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people.

I've heard a bit of mumbling in the conservative media about how Christians are discriminated against and while I'd like to deny that I am anti-Christian I have to admit that when someone describes themselves as Christian I bristle. I think this passage captures a lot of what I feel. The church has aligned itself with the republican agenda and often seems to support conservative politics without asking questions. Somehow this has managed to overshadow the traditional Christian beliefs (I think we can all agree on things like "love thy neighbor"). The church would do well to instill a little more critical thinking in its flock. Of cours critical thinking is a very dangerous tool when dealing with faith. Can Christians learn to question politics without also learning to question church doctrine?

Yes, I know I never update my blog...