And, as a progressive Christian, I’m also reclaiming repentance.
Given Lent’s themes of penitence, it’s actually a season well-suited for progressives. Unfortunately, it is also season often marred by the popular piety of giving up sodas and sweets and frequently misrepresented through a common misunderstanding of repentance.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. We had bookend services, one at 8:00 a.m. in the chapel, the other at 7:00 p.m. The services were essentially the same: readings, sermon, imposition of ashes, confession, communion. Just the essentials.
Someone asked a question along these lines on Facebook recently, asking what one piece of evidence in particular persuades people to adopt the view that they do.
There are multiple things that I find particularly indicative. The reference to a dome in Genesis 1 is itself significant. But the point becomes even clearer if one knows other creation stories from the Ancient Near East.
Some of my Facebook friends have been posting beautiful, excruciating articles about the loss of Noah Pozner, the youngest victim of Newtown. He was a twin. He was a darling child. And his family has been thoughtful, yet unflinching, in their mourning of him.
You can read the articles here and here—please be warned that they are wrenching. You may forget to breathe.
One of the oddest bits of Genesis is this from chapter 6:
When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit shall not abide in mortals for ever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterwards—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.
What on earth—or heaven for that matter—is this all about?
At a recent clergy gathering, one of the other preachers said that the problem with the church is that we aren’t asking the right questions. He said that the only question we should ask is how many people we have brought to Christ this year. When he said that, everyone sort of turned their heads and looked at him sort of funny, not sure what he was actually saying.
I said no to something recently, something pretty cool. Not because I wasn’t interested, or because it wouldn’t be beneficial in some ways. I just knew that saying “yes” meant I could not do that, and probably many other things, as well as I should. So I said no.