Monday, July 12, 2010

Sacred space

As I was growing up in the Assemblies of God I remember two terms that divided my life right down the middle, in fact it created a sort of dualism of cultures in my life. The terms were "Christian" and "Secular". Christian was everything that was explicitly religious, the music I listened to, the movies I watched, the books I read, even the sports hero's I cheered for. Secular did the same thing for "non-religious" things I did. There was two of everything, secular movies, Christian movies...secular music, Christian music, and it serious as well. I had a Youth Pastor that was so serious about abstinence from "secular" music that he encouraged all of us, especially the newly "converted" to depart from all their worldly ways and break all non- christian CD's, DVD's, and VHS tapes as well as all cassette tapes (we still used them way back then :). I threw out hundreds of dollars worth of CD's because of this position or doctrine or whatever you want to call it. My wife tells a story about her Youth Pastor (she grew up Assemblies of God as well) doing the same, but he also told her that a way she could minister to the youth group was to join a Music Club, like BMG, and purchase Christian CD's for those who just got "saved" that might not have any. PRAISE HIM!!! :) My wife worked for every penny she had growing up, she bought her own car, her own food, her own close, and her mother even made her pay some of the utility bills...she had no extra money to do "ministry" (at lest like that).

I just recently spent a week at Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, KS with the Benedictine Sisters. It was a wonderful experience, I learned and grew and experienced so much. One thing we did was some spiritual growth and development exercises like Lectio Davina and Spiritual Direction. We talked a lot about sacredness and what was sacred and what made something sacred and it confirmed something that I had, in the words of Sister Michaela, "been chewing on in the deepest parts of my soul." It's this notion that all that fundamentalist "speak" that has to do with "secular" and "christian", or in my words, "secular" and sacred".....things, like music, movies, magazines, authors and so false! Joseph Bankard, who is a professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary says "these categories are artificial because they don't refer to anything real." Anything real? The point is that the division between secular and sacred is fake. The distinction between the two really goes against the belief in an omnipresent God whom we are made in the image of. If God is truly everywhere all at once this would mean that there is sacred tendencies in everything, and if we are made in God's image...I believe that we are and that God's image is "fractured" in us, not gone, or "totally depraved" like some would say....than God is in each of us, in one way or another. Even the most selfish, hateful and murderous person in the whole world has done something nice, something that smacks of the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faith and self-control. Even Hitler did something kind....once, even Timothy McVeigh showed someone, even Osama Bin Laden as exercised some point. The point is, everything and everyone has some sacredness, so why the division, whats with the false distinction, why create a sub-culture where Christians have their own Wood-Stock, their own rock-stars, their sports hero's and even their own politicians.

The distinct is simply a result and product of the is the exclusion, they... us... them.. the we/ they of the human condition. I believe that Christ calls us to embrace each other, to go beyond "tolerance" even, and come to understanding. The line separating what is considered secular from what is considered sacred becomes blurred, at best, when we really take a close look at our world and what we profess to believe as Christians. The challenge for believers is to recognize the sacredness in every situation and especially in every person. No more exclusion, only embrace. It's funny, for some, God seems to hate all the same people they do...the truth is God loves everyone and God is saving all of humanity through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.