The Reconciliations of Autumn

Column by Rev. Lauren Van Ham on 20 October 2022 0 Comments

In the Northern hemisphere, we are in the season of Fall and harvest.  It is also the time when a number of cultures and traditions encourage communion with our benevolent ancestors, saints, and spiritual teachers.

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What is the best way to gently question the behavior of a new Pastor who seems to be very fundamentalist in her thinking and does not like to be questioned?


Dear Reader,

I think the answer to this depends on how much energy you have for the conversation. We know arguing rarely changes anyone’s mind. I’m of the opinion that, as the Christ said, “They who have ears to hear, let them hear.” Not everyone is ready to give up fundamentalism. Many people find identity and certainty in that paradigm that comforts them. You can kindly suggest books that advance other ideologies and theologies, but there’s no guarantee she will read them. 

My advice is to practice forgiveness. Go to John 20 and read the words of the Christ who said “Whatever you forgive is forgiven; whatever you retain is retained.” Sometimes, the best thing we can do is relinquish any illusions of control over other people’s thinking and actions. To forgive is to accept that people are the way they are. 

I personally would have no tolerance for sitting under the authority and preaching of a pastor whose values and theology don’t align with mine. That’s not to say that pastor is of no worth - certainly she is a beautiful child of God. But my boundary is not to be in tacit support of harmful paradigms, while still maintaining a loving posture toward people whose thinking I dislike. I would say, “peace be with you,” and go somewhere I can remain moored in my own internal peace.

Only you can know if you should leave that pastor’s sphere of influence. In my experience, people who are dug into fundamentalist theological paradigms aren’t usually open to change, until some personal experience gives them the insight they need to get curious. Trust the Spirit to speak to Her beloved and give her insight when the time is right. Remain curious and loving, and ground yourself in forgiveness.

~ Rev. Fran Pratt




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