This question – whether or not anyone can believe in God without reward – drives the work and witness of so many of my LGBTQ faith heroes who practice Christianity despite being rejected by and cut off from “the true Church.”
The American Church’s anxiety and desperation to survive – much like that of our nation’s reeling education system – frequently occludes its view of how to be helpful both to the world and to itself.
Who better than a pastor – called to live in a peculiar way on behalf of a group of people unable to live this way most days – to practice the art of prophetically being one’s authentic self, rather than attempting to be one’s best, most marketable self?
Trump isn’t altogether wrong – gun deaths in America are driven by a mental health crisis. However, instead of that un-wellness resting upon a lone shooter or evil terrorist, it is visited upon all of us who still believe that the same circular conversation will actually result in something different.
When there are four year olds in jail at the border and the Arctic Circle hits 80 degrees, it’s time to find out why exactly the world needs the unending existence of our aging fellowship hall and sparsely-populated sanctuary. If we don’t know the answer, I’m not so sure Millennial church members are going to pull us out of that tailspin.
Of the 25 to 30 students, adults, married couples and whole families I see each week in my practice as a psychotherapist, almost nothing is more difficult to overcome than our collective commitment to the anxious pursuit of happiness at all costs.
The bad news that our world isn’t fine, that life is profoundly unfair, misaligned and wobbly and violently broken should tell us all something important about depression – namely, that depression isn’t wrong to declare life on earth uninhabitable; it’s just terribly misguided about what causes our maladies and exactly what solutions provide their remedy.
A Christianity that brings newness to deadness, even if the newness was something we would never have chosen for ourselves, is the sort of thing that just might blow the doors off the universe if we’ll let it. At the least, I know this kind of Christianity manages to empty my tomb year after year after year.
My sisters and brothers in the Methodist tradition (and elsewhere), if you do have to leave your denominational home, I hope that you keep your eyes and ears open for a God you or your tradition can’t hold on to: a God at the bottom of the slippery slope, in a field Rumi famously described as one beyond right doing and wrong doing.