Sunday, November 06, 2011

Falling back, evangelicals & sanity

I always think of my maternal grandfather each year during the brief time warps when we switch collectively from standard to daylight-saving time, then back again, as happened at 2 this morning --- fall-back time.

Granddad never acknowledged daylight-saving time, which meant he was never on time for anything during the months when it was in effect. He always intended to make the adjustment in his head, although never in his clocks, but that never worked out well.

Olin and Minnie Davidson, too --- a wonderful couple quite old when I remember them who lived on a farm deep in Winnebago County and invariably drove up to our little white Lutheran church on fall-back morning, looking mildly bemused, as the rest of us were coming down the steps after service.

I'll be getting up at 3:30 a.m., as opposed to 4:30 a.m., for a few days now until the internal clock adjusts. And, no, there's no point in trying to go back to sleep once the conscious wheels start turning in my head.


Getting up early(ier) does, however, provide a little more time to cruise the Blog-o-sphere and, since it's Sunday morning, I've been taking a look at some of my favorites that tackle religious issues, more specifically Christian ones.

I rarely read "liberal" blogs --- I'm one of those; know the territory. Nor do I usually read "conservative" blogs; few surprises there. But I like to read blogs some might call progressive evangelical just to see which direction that wind is blowing.

I came across a July post, for example, on Brett McCracken's "The Search" blog, offering a list of "6 Big Things That Divide Christians" --- Homosexuality, Universalism, Politics, Evolution, Women in Ministry and The Internet.

Keep in mind that these are for the most part "evangelical" blogs, and there are a couple of hallmarks involved. Evangelicals consider their variety of Christianity for the most part the only variety of Christianity worth talking about, so issues like evolution and the role of women loom larger than they do for many other Christians, who have for the most part moved on --- Protestants at least. Most liberal Protestants play freely, too, in the fields of universalism. We can all probably agree about the divisive nature of politics. I'm not exactly sure about the Internet, where folks of all outlooks and persuasians rarely overcome the temptation to behave rudely.

But I always find it interesting  to find "homosexuality" at the top of the list of divisive Christian issues and kind of funny that so many allow such a small percentage of the population to bring the Church Universal to its knees. But putting the issue up there probably is accurate.

The thing you discover on these blogs is that few evangelical old folks (let's say 50-plus) patronize them. These guys for the most part have settled in behind their lines in the sand and are hoping to die and lift off to glory before anything else changes.

The middle ground is occupied by the new love generation (32-49, perhaps) which actually tries to live the old saw, "love the sinner, hate the sin." These guys want to use more love as bait to attract more LGBT folks into the fold so the gay can be prayed away or at least channeled into celibacy. While this is better than a whack up the side of the head with a baseball bat, the strategy probably doesn't have much of a future.

Relatively few sane LGBT people go to church or are likely too. Scratch even more liberal congregations and you'll discover a gnawing fear that if they appear too welcoming, too many of "those people" will show up for communion.

The third group, younger (18-31 perhaps), unconvinced of the validity of assumptions shared by the old folks in Sunday school, seem genuine in their attempts to move beyond divisiveness. It's not clear what will become of them. Perhaps they'll lead the way into a kinder, gentler version of evangelical Christianity; perhaps they'll shift to the mainstream; or perhaps they'll leave the church entirely. It's unlikely, however, that they will be going back.

Anyhow, it's a fascinating topic to browse through early Sunday. But now I've got to get ready for church. Yes, I know, it's a nutty thing to do. But as my old friend Marian, now 92, says: "What else would you do on Sunday morning?" 

1 comment:

Ken said...

Frank, it's almost spooky. Not more than a week ago, I was completing our church's latest on-line survey (we do a lot of those these days), and one of the questions was why I attend the service when I do (9 a.m. Sunday), rather than at one of the other times. My response was virtually the same as Marian's: "Because that's what you do on a Sunday morning." I felt a little guilty for giving an answer that might appear to be flip, but it looks like I'm in good company!