Into The Breach Once More

I’m taking a class this fall, beginning tonight, at Seattle University, the alma mater of some of my favorite people and the recipient, in theory anyway, of a lot of my money over the years. The SU School of Theology and Ministry has been the seminary of choice for quite a few of my friends, although that’s an interlocking relationship and hard to split up; my wife went there, and her vocational trajectory placed her in a community of like minds. I just follow and get new friends. One of them is co-teaching this class, Pacific Northwest Culture & Presbyterian Identity, right up my interest alley. As one of the most unchurched regions in the country, I’ve always considered my home a curiosity when it comes to religious affiliation and practice. While the progressive Christian church is sort of buried in our current climate (Christian conservatives making all the noise in our culture), although very much alive and well, the religious community here on the Left Coast has a conservative tilt, at least to a significant degree. The first church I joined here, in fact, has now left the Presbyterian Church (USA), historical bonds no match for homophobia. Very nice people there, apparently very committed to bigotry and bizarre interpretations of Scripture (but common, of course). But bigotry is a big tent. While Christian persecution is a ridiculous notion in a country where three-quarters of our citizens identify, at least superficially, with this faith system (something grudgingly accepted, interestingly, by those who find the whole thing stupid, and weirdly rejected by some Christians, who anecdotally are surprised every time they find a fellow believer somewhere), there’s an active antagonism toward religion—specifically, Christianity—evident all over. I see this in my friends. All the time. These are people who vigorously reject generalizations and bigotry towards Muslims, say, or Jews or Sikhs or Buddhists, but feel free (and justified) to lump all Christians into the intolerance pool, or pretend that the others are outliers. I get it. These are good people. Still bigots. None of this bothers me, usually, or bothers me enough to confront. I’m not threatened or victimized, just curious about this strange knee-jerking, although I know where it comes from. There are bad people out there, some of them evil, proclaiming the Gospel and darkness in one breath. And it’s clear that the conservative evangelical wing of American Christianity has lost even mild interest in a moral compass. I know from where the disgust arises. But, again: not my concern. And if at some point in the future, there are only a few of us left, huddled around a campfire (or a candle), practicing ancient magicks, I think that’d be pretty cool. Pure rationality is boring to me, seeing as the vast majority of the universe is a mystery. That’s where I want to be right now, inside the mystery. I’m just a little irked that I have to read textbooks and stuff. … Today is the last day of summer here, obviously (and probably). The sunrise this morning was brilliant, and we’re looking at 80-plus temperatures and nothing but sun. I see raindrops for the rest of the week on my weather app, and temperatures on a couple of days not breaking 60. It was so nice while it lasted, and it lasted forever. No regrets, and plenty of gratitude. And it calls me, now. I’m thinking the lawn needs mowing. I think I need it.

I’m taking a class this fall, beginning tonight, at Seattle University, the alma mater of some of my favorite people and the recipient, in theory anyway, of a lot of my money over the years. The SU School of Theology and Ministry has been the seminary of choice for quite a few of my friends, although that’s an interlocking relationship and hard to split up; my wife went there, and her vocational trajectory placed her in a community of like minds. I just follow and get new friends.

One of them is co-teaching this class, Pacific Northwest Culture & Presbyterian Identity, right up my interest alley. As one of the most unchurched regions in the country, I’ve always considered my home a curiosity when it comes to religious affiliation and practice.

While the progressive Christian church is sort of buried in our current climate (Christian conservatives making all the noise in our culture), although very much alive and well, the religious community here on the Left Coast has a conservative tilt, at least to a significant degree. The first church I joined here, in fact, has now left the Presbyterian Church (USA), historical bonds no match for homophobia. Very nice people there, apparently very committed to bigotry and bizarre interpretations of Scripture (but common, of course).

But bigotry is a big tent. While Christian persecution is a ridiculous notion in a country where three-quarters of our citizens identify, at least superficially, with this faith system (something grudgingly accepted, interestingly, by those who find the whole thing stupid, and weirdly rejected by some Christians, who anecdotally are surprised every time they find a fellow believer somewhere), there’s an active antagonism toward religion—specifically, Christianity—evident all over.

I see this in my friends. All the time. These are people who vigorously reject generalizations and bigotry towards Muslims, say, or Jews or Sikhs or Buddhists, but feel free (and justified) to lump all Christians into the intolerance pool, or pretend that the others are outliers. I get it. These are good people. Still bigots.

None of this bothers me, usually, or bothers me enough to confront. I’m not threatened or victimized, just curious about this strange knee-jerking, although I know where it comes from. There are bad people out there, some of them evil, proclaiming the Gospel and darkness in one breath. And it’s clear that the conservative evangelical wing of American Christianity has lost even mild interest in a moral compass. I know from where the disgust arises.

But, again: not my concern. And if at some point in the future, there are only a few of us left, huddled around a campfire (or a candle), practicing ancient magicks, I think that’d be pretty cool. Pure rationality is boring to me, seeing as the vast majority of the universe is a mystery. That’s where I want to be right now, inside the mystery.

I’m just a little irked that I have to read textbooks and stuff.

Today is the last day of summer here, obviously (and probably). The sunrise this morning was brilliant, and we’re looking at 80-plus temperatures and nothing but sun. I see raindrops for the rest of the week on my weather app, and temperatures on a couple of days not breaking 60. It was so nice while it lasted, and it lasted forever. No regrets, and plenty of gratitude.

And it calls me, now. I’m thinking the lawn needs mowing. I think I need it.

Chuck SigarsComment