I’m in over my head with the details of planting a church. I asked some of my internet friends to provide a guest post so I could spend some time trying to get ahead.
First up is Clay Morgan from the ultra famous EduClaytion.com. Clay is a 90′s enthusiast, pop culture pro, part time Alligator wrestler, and a great guy. He sent me a post in honor of the season premier of part 2 of season 2 of The Walking Dead. Enjoy the writing styles of Clay…
The Walking Dead is becoming my favorite TV drama of all-time (sorry Quantum Leap). It’s terrific zombie fiction with gobs of existential questioning. Season 2 features a farm owner named Herschel, a religious fundamentalist type who lives in denial about the extent of terror outside his land. The world is ending, but he’s trying to convince himself and everyone who will listen that the living dead ghouls really aren’t so terrible. They’re just sick.
Herschel is portrayed as hypocritical and narrow. He goes from reading the Bible and giving mini sermons to forcing vulnerable guests away from the safety of his property and back into death’s way. The story makes viewers wonder who the real monsters are.
During one recent episode, I found myself going from disgust with Herschel to sympathy for him as a shocking event exposed the fallacy of his shallow views that were only able to survive in the bubble of denial he had created.
Then a few days later I heard about some Kentucky church leaders who voted to pass a ban on interracial marriage. No, I wasn’t reading old newspaper clips from 1953. This story is happening now, in 2011.
I didn’t have any details for many hours after hearing about this story, but I did have a knot in my stomach. Here are the approximate reactions I experienced upon first hearing about the racist ruling.
2. That’s messed up.
3. Great, just what Christianity needs, another reason for critics to attack.
The rest of my focus on the subject had to do with how people can call themselves Christians and do all kinds of rotten things, but they aren’t upholding any kind of biblical model of what Jesus did or taught.
Since first hearing this story I’ve learned that the vote was carried by nine individuals. That’s nine too many but at least not a Deep South bigot fest. It’s also been reported that the church has rescinded the ban and called the vote null and void, so we’re not heading for some big-time legal showdown. What we have is a sad yet thought-provoking incident.
I started to wonder if those nine voters really believed that they were justified in their racist views. Will some of them honestly be shocked by the widespread condemnation of their views? How painful must this be for the families caught between the people they love and the congregational leadership that’s brought so much anger upon them, even hatred in many cases?
But then I started thinking about that old fictional farmer Herschel. He believes himself to be a good man, but he’s confused about the reality of evil. He only sees himself protecting what is good and prohibiting that which is evil even while violating the superior law to love others.
Like Herschel, those Kentucky Christians are too sheltered in their own little world to recognize the proper view of others and absolute standard of God. Rather than focusing on the value of others, they expel those who don’t fit into their mold of what is right. They pass judgment on others.
And we pass judgment on them.
I remember times when people instantly judged me because I am a Christian, as if that word tells them everything they need to know about me. Forget the fact that they have no idea who I am or what the word “Christianity” even means to me. Forget the fact that I’m happy to articulate the reasoning behind any view I hold and try to do so out of love. To those who judge out of hand I am a Christian, so I must be simple, abrasive, self-righteous, ignorant, judgmental, etc… You know, kind of like those Southern Jesus freaks who hate black people.
My initial reaction to Kentucky Christian racism instantly put me on the same side as some of the people who have come against me in the past. And then I started to wonder if we were all really that far apart after all.
Something is stinging me. I’m thinking about my negative knee-jerk reaction towards those Kentuckians who profess Christian faith while upholding a racist position. My anger went straight for the people rather than their views. My first response is to call them names rather than recognize that they’re humans who screw up and need truth as much as the rest of us. We quickly forget the rules on hypocrisy once we hear stories about people who do really bad stuff. I hate to be judged, but it’s okay to hammer those creeps in Kentucky, right? I mean, after all, they’re racists!
It’s so hard to not respond to hatred with more hatred. Controversy breeds ugliness. It’s hard to not condemn and dismiss nine Kentucky church leaders in the same way that I’ve been condemned and dismissed in the past for simply calling myself a Christian. No, I don’t believe my views are shallow, hateful, or wrong like the ban on interracial marriage. But for me, the challenge is to not attack those errant leaders even though I do think their belief on this subject to be completely twisted.
The common theme is that it’s hard for us to show grace to others regardless of what we believe. Forgiveness doesn’t come naturally whether we are people who worship God or human leaders or zombies. We all create bubbles of comfort and fight to keep out whatever we don’t like or understand. We start off with good intentions, but human nature tends to push us towards fanaticism. If we’re not careful we can become like Herschel, confused about why no one can see the monsters out to get us. But in reality, the monsters are already inside our bubble with us.
Did you watch the Walking Dead last night? Have you dealt with racism before?