Thursday, May 3, 2007

Seeker I

“Seeker” seems to have recently acquired a negative meaning. Instead of “one that seeks: a seeker of the truth,” it has turned into something like “someone who hasn’t found, won’t ever find, my truth” or, more charitably, “someone lost and distracted, going nowhere, or nowhere in the right direction.” At least that’s my take on Stand Firm's editorial decision to lift Mystical Seeker’s “Post-Easter Hangover” essay from his blog and to critique his thoughts and feelings (while, at the same time, sneering that such thoughts and feelings would be very much at home among liberal Episcopalians).

While it is tempting to simply chalk up this episode as another example of how rude and uncharitable so-called Christians can be, I think it goes deeper than the dark humours that permeate the atmosphere at SF. It’s getting to the point where even mention of words and phrases like “metaphor” and “metaphorical truth” – let alone the offending “Christian mythologies” – is enough to bring rampant cries of idolatry and predictions of the end of Christianity. While I commend the efforts of people like Sarah Dylan Breuer to find common ground among liberals and conservatives, an unfortunate consequence may be to silence or at least trigger self-censorship among those who seek, quest, and doubt, those who want to talk to those who do, or simply those who recall the days when they, too, faced Easter Sundays as days of trumpets, pageantry, and hoopla that caused their heads to ache. Those who consider themselves to be “liberal orthodox” have to keep hitting all the “orthodox” words and phrases over and over again in often futile attempts to persuade others that they “mean” what they say.

It’s not that there is discomfort or dishonesty in uttering those words of orthodoxy. It does, however, raise the question of where does the conversation (not to mention the flame wars) leave the seekers and the outsiders looking in? Has it seriously crossed anyone’s radar screen that the numbers of people who don’t know any of the words in the context of any kind of faith are rising, right here in the midst of Western culture founded on the Judeo-Christian tradition? How does one proclaim the Gospel (if necessary, with words) by suggesting that those who do not already “know” that they are seeking the “Risen Christ” bodily resurrected from the dead cannot really be seeking spiritual truth? that those who shudder or are repelled by traditional Christian words and images must be “lazy” or “self-centered” if they think twice about walking through the doors of a local church?

Fortunately, PB ++ Katharine Jefferts Schori, has not risen to the bait. She consistently uses the words she knows and trusts will reach people outside institutional Christianity, never mind the slings and arrows shot her way. No doubt she recalls her earlier years of doubts and questions and those of her colleagues in the scientific community. Why should she or any of us be ashamed of our past or supremely confident that we’ve now got it “right”? Why can’t we shout to the high heavens in thanks for the words, knowledge, and understandings we found in the lab, the classroom, in books of poetry, history, and philosophy, as well as the people and places, both within and without the confines of churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples, who have brought us closer to God?


Dennis said...

Best not to ever link directly to StandLimp. It causes them to find the link and blogswarm over to your blog.

by the way, what part of Chicago are you from? I can't wait until we move back when I graduate from this program. I miss it so much. Greatest city on earth.

klady said...

Link, what link? No matter, I'll take them on, if need be. Funny how they used to be the "nice" ones compared to VOL and co.

Actually, I'm not from Chicago proper -- perhaps why I've always loved it so -- but farther north on the lake, right next to the Wisconsin border. My dad worked downtown when I was growing up, I studied ballet there beginning in jr. high school, I spent a semester living on the Near North side studying at the Newberry Library during college, worked summers at law firms downtown during law school, and clerked for a judge there after graduating. After a few years elsewhere, I moved back to northern Illinois, and eventually spent a couple years in the western suburbs before we moved out East.

I've come to love it here, as well, with the rolling hills and near-mountains and fresh air. And I can't say that I miss Chicago traffic. But give me that any day over trying to drive near NYC (my recent trek to Long Island during the weekend before the Nor'easter wasn't quite as colorful as Elizabeth's parking nightmare, but just as stressful. Last I checked (and I was just back after Easter), nothing on the Kennedy or Lake Shore Drive begins to compare to the lanes appearing and disappearing and cars crossing multiple lanes of traffic like on Long Island, and then ending up parked bumper to bumper for miles before the George Washington bridge.

My brother and his family live in Seattle. Nice place to visit when the sun is shining and the flowers blooming. Good coffee and books.

End of travelogue. Nice thing about blogging. No one can tell me I'm off topic.

Dennis said...

You are right. stand up to them. Right after I suggested you unlink from that crowd I then marched over, let 'em know what I think, left my blog address on my post, and put up an open forum for them to say what they like.


I really miss Chicago. The Seattle area is nice (the people are a bit distant) and the scenery is gorgeous (I'm looking out my window at the snow covered Olympic mountains as I type this.) But it will never be home. Chicago feels like home. I was raised in the deep south but my grandfather was from Chicago. And I came to love it from listening to him. When I finally moved there as an adult I knew I was home. I'm away for a few years to get a degree, but boy do I miss it.

I loved studying in the Newberry. One of my favorite places on earth to read a book, especially on a cold snowy day. Soon enough. soon enough.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Why can’t we shout to the high heavens in thanks for the words, knowledge, and understandings we found in the lab, the classroom, in books of poetry, history, and philosophy, as well as the people and places, both within and without the confines of churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples, who have brought us closer to God?

Why can't we, indeed? Thanks be to God for churches where you don't have to leave your brain behind when go in.

At last night's debate among the Republican Candidates for president - which I did not watch - three of them, Brownback, Huckabee, and Tancredo said they did not believe in evolution, for crying out loud.

What are we coming to? Where are we right now?

By the way, I've only been to Chicago once, but I loved it. We just didn't get to see enough of it.

Mystical Seeker said...

You guys are the best. :)