Christians Caring for Creation

Column by Rev. Dr. Mark Sandlin on 13 June 2024 0 Comments

There is not much in this world that I would call a miracle, but the world itself definitely is. It's existence and ability to support and sustain the life that it has is simply improbable. How dare humanity so go about to indifferently as we are destroying a miracle.

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Watching the rise of White Christian Nationalism is alarming, do you see progressive Christian Churches
adequately rising to meet the challenge of countering that narrative?


Just like you, Charlene, I feel alarmed and very concerned about the rise of White Christian Nationalism.  I am grateful for many of the recent weekly articles about this authored by the guest writers for Progressing Spirit; as well as a number of similarly themed books being shared in the Progressive Christianity email re-caps.  More than ever, we need scholars, teachers and preachers to be providing accurate contexts, identifying scriptures within the history.  This is a necessary and helpful way for us to recognize how current political messages are using Hebrew scriptures and the teachings of Jesus in ways that are out of integrity or blatantly untrue.  It is a painful irony that the Bible repeatedly invites us to identify and halt the human tendency to misuse power.

The ways we practice identifying and halting happen in large and small ways.  No matter how uncomfortable it feels, it’s important to be familiar with what’s being said.  We need to exercise moderation in how much news we’re taking in each day and we need to listen to a variety of news sources so that we can observe how messages are being used to plant fear, scarcity, separation and un-truths.

The progressive movement, in its intention to welcome everyone is also guilty of standing by or remaining silent when we need to be speaking up. If we lack the theological knowledge to offer other interpretations for the scripture being tossed around, we need at least to ask questions. In the moments when a comment is shared that feels unloving or blatantly out of line, we can say, “Does that feel true to you?” or “What about that approach makes you feel safer?” or “Are there ways we could meet that need without anyone being harmed in the process?”

I am particularly thinking of my friends who are not Christian but, as citizens of the US, are subject to a scriptural debate that is not synonymous with democracy or governance. For those of us who have spent time in religious education, Bible studies, or teaching Sunday School, our practice is to model what is actually true. Jesus was speaking out against empire. Jesus was against economic practices that put transaction over relationship. Jesus looked for more and more ways to be radically inclusive, choosing love in ways that continually unsettled well-established practices. This is the way we rise to counter the narrative of White Christian Nationalism: in our book groups, with our yard signs, around our dinner tables, in our parent support groups, and especially in the moments when it is ours to ask, “Are you sure that’s what Jesus really meant?”

~ Rev. Lauren Van Ham




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