Wherein I shake my head….

So, this happened.

Seems a pastor that prayed alongside leaders of other religions (to include scary Muslims and Jews) was reprimanded by his church and apologized. I’m guessing because he committed that awful sin of attempting to participate in the communal grief of his hometown.

That’s his journey. My frustration would lie more with the bishop or regional minister rather than the local pastor. He’s trying to keep his job.

Several years ago, I was endorsed by a fundamentalist organization. Fine people. Didn’t actually have much to do with me. I guess as long as I paid my dues, they were happy to take them (to the tune of 160 bucks a month. Yes, I paid this group $160 a month for the privilege of ministering in the military. There’s something wrong with that, but hey, that’s another post when I’m feeling particularly froggy…).

They didn’t call. They sent a card once in a while. They didn’t keep up with me. I sent in reports and heard nothing back.

Till I dared use this phrase in my blog at the time: “I’m becoming more open and ecumenical.” Within weeks, this group, who had not interacted with me for years in a real way, sent two men (there would only be men in leadership of this group) to meet with me to test my orthodoxy. We sat at in a Golden Coral and they asked me questions relating to the substitutionary atonement. I gave them the answers they needed to assuage their conscience. After all, if I answered wrongly, they could pull my endorsement and I’d be a civilian again. When your jobs on the line…

They left telling me that no chaplain in their organization should ever “share the stage” with a Mormon and Catholics should be understood to be kind but hell-bound.

I started searching for a new endorser that day.

At a time when Christianity itself is losing relevancy; when in a 200 member demographic, 60+ will be “No Religious Preference,” we’re still going back and forth over whose the “real Christians” among us.

So, I shake my head…

3 Comments

Filed under Chaplaincy

3 responses to “Wherein I shake my head….

  1. Not sure I understand the point of this article. Are you saying that to increase relevancy we should avoid coming across judgmental of other religions? Or are you saying true Christianity doesn’t endorse such distinctions? Or are you saying that discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to keeping your job?

    • I’m saying that it’s sad to me personally that sometimes we Christians, in an effort to defend our faith, have a need to cloister ourselves away from everyone else. I try to talk about what I am versus what I am not. I certainly find that there is a place in the public square for Christians, particularly in times of great trial and grief. Of course, as an American, I also recognize that my place in the public square is as valid as everyone else. This pastor clearly needs to follow his conscience and the authority he has placed himself under. His story reminded me of my own when I realized that my journey in faith was taking me far from the limitations of my endorsing body. That’s my journey and part of my story. I do wish that Christians could be known a little more for the wonderful work they do in the community rather than some of the harsher actions of my brothers and sisters. Of course, those stories don’t bleed so much and we all know what sells…

      • And yes, at the time of the visit from my endorsing body, I was struggling with some very real and personal aspects of my faith. I didn’t feel safe discussing these with people who held my job as collateral. I was not convinced of where I was going and didn’t really know where the road led, so I did not discuss my experiences with those men, kind though they were. I was afraid.
        Now, I would hope I would be able to own my feelings better. Own my thoughts better. Own my journey better. Of course, I would not be who I am without that experience.
        Was “discretion the better part of valor?” I don’t know. I had a young wife and infant at my house. Yes. Yes it was the better part of “valor.” Thanks for asking that.

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