“Happy Holidays!” There. I said it. And Jesus? He doesn’t even care.

It’s happening again.  Some of my siblings in Christ are starting to say things that make me want to start calling myself a Christ follower, so I won’t be identified with the Christians.   They begin to say these things, and I feel like that guy in a movie, slowed down so everybody can see that he is not fast enough to stop what is about to occur.  They begin, and I know where it is going, and I just wish… they would stop.

I am not saying that I am being totally fair to my fellow Christians.  I am not proud of all of these feelings.  But… there is something to them, too.  Because here is the thing: if people are trying to spread cheer and joy, it does not matter how they phrase it.

I think it turns out to be historically inaccurate to claim America is a Christian country.  (More specifically: I think it is inaccurate to expect the founding fathers’ Christianity looks much like Christainty does today.)   I am not going to get hung up on this point, though, because here is the thing:

It does not matter.

If we were utterly Christian or utterly not-Christian, it would be quite irrelevant to the more basic point: people are allowed to use whatever words they want to use.

That goes for us Christians, too.  We can say “Merry Christmas”  too the whole world, if we want.  And maybe we should.

I know that there all these stories out there about all this oppression.  This terrible conspiracy.  This evil empire, in league with Satan himself.

The problem is that most of those stories aren’t true.

Private companies are allowed to have whatever policies they want to have.  It kind of boggles my mind when Christianity says out of one side of it’s mouth, “Companies should be free to exempt themselves from health care laws.” and out of the other side of it’s mouth “Companies should not be free to play whatever semantic games they want with how their employees greet their customers during December.”

Truly, I don’t mind looking stupid.  I am a balding man in his mid forties with a pony tail.  We do, by the way, look stupid about this stuff.

What I mind is that we look so petty and out of touch.  There are real problems in the world and there are places where Christians really are persecuted.  But this?  This is just a bunch of words.  We are told that we will be known by our love.  Not our whininess.  Which, in a way is too bad.  Because, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we look quite whiny indeed.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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