Friday, September 28, 2012

Brian McLaren

Toward The Other from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

I have been moved by Brian's words time and again.  His writings starting popping up in my life towards the end of my time as a youth worker and I have a pile of his work still sitting for me to read.  I ran across this clip last week and my soul has been chewing on it ever since.

So of course, the issue of world religions came up in the mothership conversation this week.  My experience as a mother has taught me many things, but here is one of the most profound things I have discovered.  All of the really good theological conversations with my children happen in our minivan (a.k.a. "The Mothership") during kid commute time.  I guess it is because we are all a captive audience, and we don't have to be face to face.  Maybe it is less intimidating to ask the big questions when you don't have to make eye contact... at least that's my current working theory.

So my 7 year old daughter wants to sign for the school talent show in the spring.  She wants to sing a worship song and I mentioned to her that she might be asked to pick a different song.  I am not sure what they will allow for a talent show and I wanted to take an opportunity to talk with my older two about the public school setting.  Interestingly enough we had this conversation as we were commuting from the private christian school my 5 year son is attending this year, to the public school the older two attend.  (The reason we have enrolled our kids in two separate elementary schools is a blog post of it's own, that may or may not ever find it's way to this ole' blog space)

It was a great conversation.  I was able to explain to them that at the christian school, the belief system is inherent.  Not every student always has that belief system, but the school is founded on christian principles.  In a public school setting, there is very different distinction in regards to faith.  In the public system the goal is the separation of church and state, or more honestly the separation of religion and academics.  That conversations led to several more heavy questions and I am so grateful to have years of practice doing faith talk with children.  But as I dropped my older children off at their school I was struck by two things:

1.  I am grateful that my children have friends of many different faith backgrounds and several with no faith background.  For my family that is a huge blessing and not because I desire to "friendship evangelize" our other-believing or non-believing friends.  I see it as a blessing because it provides us with a well balanced and non polarizing experience in the life we are leading.  I was raised in the church, went to a christian university, and then I worked in a church for a decade.  When I left that little bubble, I realized just how disconnected I had become from anyone who didn't have the exact same experience.  I was completely entrenched in my religious camp and that caused problems for me.  It created problems because I only embraced the part of my christian identity and history that was pleasant.  I flat out ignored the dark history and the under belly of the faith system I claimed as my own.  These are the sort of problems I don't want my children to have to carry.  I want them to have open hearts, open minds, open eyes, and open arms.  I also want them to have a humility and understanding that we are not God and we do not have a corner on the truth market.  We are a Christian family and are guided by those principles.  That is a good thing.  We are not however, called to decide who is in God's graces and who is not.

2:  I need to learn more about the Islamic faith, as well as, Buddhism and Hinduism.  I have a pretty good working understanding of Judaism, Atheism, and Agnosticism.  My faith shares a lot of the tenants with the Jewish faith, so that's an easy one for me to get.  I have many family members that believe there is no God and avoid religious affiliation, or believe that there may or may not be a God but it does not make a huge difference for them.  I have a limited understanding of Buddhism and Hinduism, but have several friends throughout the years that practice both faith systems, so I feel like I have a fair amount of understanding about each lifestyle. I realized though, that I have a very limited academic understanding of the Islamic faith and almost no personal life experience with Muslim people.  So I need to learn more and maybe I need to move out of my comfort zone in this area.

I am grateful for Brian McLaren for his perspective and his writing.  I am also grateful for the precious teaching moments I get to have as a stay at home mom for my children.  Being present most of the time while I am raising my kids is shaping me more into the image of Christ.  And the more I evolve, the more I feel at home in my own skin because hatred, divisive thinking, and immaturity are slowly falling away.  In the space of that negative stuff has risen up a deeper desire to lean into grace, because I understand all the more, just how much I need grace to cover over me and my humanity.

No comments: