Sunday, January 03, 2016

A little progressive Christianity for Sunday morning

I downloaded the other day this little outline of progressive Christianity --- as defined by the group --- in part because its eight points reminded me of the seven guiding principles of Unitarian Universalism, with which I'm more familiar:

The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

It's been interesting over the course of many years to watch the "progressive" wing of more conventional Christianity catch up with my UUA friends --- keeping in mind that many progressive Christians would define themselves in a more theologically orthodox manner than the progressive manifesto here does. And most Unitarian Universalists wouldn't be comfortable moving that guy Jesus front and center.

I grew up gay at a time when there was little choice other than to experience Christians as folks who had sharpened the blades of their Bibles and were coming after me and my sisters and brothers, singing "Onward, Christian Soldiers."

So --- even though there's still a lot of that going on --- it makes me happy now to see some areas of the progressive church welcoming gay priests, pastors, preachers --- and parishioners --- in more progressive times. Many, however, have had to fight their way in, and dealing with self-defined Christians still is problematic.

The wisdom of both the UUA principles and the progressive Christianity points extends far beyond equity and justice in relationship to sexual orientation, however. Building world community, rather than walls, and intense concern about our environment and the all the life it sustains are life and death issues.

We're coming to the close of the Christmas season as Epiphany approaches and we've heard a lot of words about peace and good will as the days passed. Much of this has been packed away with the holiday ornaments by now, however, and much of what we're left with is anger.

Much of this has to do with fear as cracks appear in the old control mechanisms, particularly religion --- be it Christianity, Islam or something else. Fear is a horrible, and a dangerous, thing.

This is the year I turn 70 --- an awesome milestone, especially when you consider how large a bite AIDS took out of my generation. I'm grateful to be here and to be among the "progressives," looking forward with hope drawn from the promise of the future rather than back into dead theology and darker times.

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