Toward an Ethics of Consequences

Column by Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Frantz on 24 August 2023 0 Comments

the term ethical grace emphasizes the importance of the choices we make in our lives every day to support the goodness of life on earth. Every day, we make choices that matter.

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As a Christian, when I read or watch followers of other faiths accusing Christianity and the Bible of being a lie while elevating their own religions along with their religious texts as true, how should I answer them that the views that they hold about my religion Christianity are wrong? 


Dear Roy, 

Do you know that poem by Rumi, the 12th-century Sufi mystic?  It goes:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other"
doesn't make any sense.

Reflecting on your question, I’m struck by the words “true” and “wrong.” Because of what these words imply, they can carry a lot of weight.  We have been schooled to get the answer “right.”  We were graded on our ability to discern “true” from “false.” We put all kinds of pressure on ourselves to make clear decisions and to stick to them.  But guess what?  Divine Love doesn’t know these boundaries!  Jesus took every opportunity to share this love with every person.  At a deep level, every religion is about helping us to see beyond being right or wrong and moving toward curiosity, care, and generosity.  When Jesus perceived difference with others, instead of turning away, he turned toward.  He would invite them to a meal, and he would ask questions.

The politics and media of today desperately want us to choose sides and judge everything as good/bad, right/wrong.  Our most loving response might be, “It sounds like this is really important to you.  Are you willing to share with me why you feel this way?”  Whether or not we’re able to find a shared commonality, we will have exercised curiosity, and we will have practiced listening to another perspective, and that gets us closer to the field Rumi mentions.  In a best-case scenario, we might learn something new about the fear or pain the other person is carrying. We might be given the chance to reflect on our own fear or pain.  We might both come away from the conversation feeling seen, heard, healed.   And in that place, our souls know the goodness and grace of resting in the grass.

~ Rev. Lauren Van Ham




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