An Open Letter to my Readers (Whomever you may be)
Ah, yes, so here we are again. I would imagine there may be five or so people who read this blog on any kind of regular basis and with any form of remote enthusiasm, but even so, I realise it has been a while. I profusely apologise.
This is not so much a blog entry per se, but rather an “in-betweener” of a few things I would like to address. The first is, as might be an obvious point, the long absence of any kind of regular work from me here. One of the primary reasons for this stems from undergoing a period of realising just how little I know and how much more I wish to learn and articulate. This does not mean that I am feeling any less fervent in the convictions I espouse, but I wish for a season to be a little more of a listener and a little less of a talker. So that’s the first point.
A couple of other points I need to address, are those raised by a recent commentator on my blog who brought up some interesting critiques. Now, I did think about just leaving a comment in return, but since these were very valid concerns and ones which might possibly have been concurred by others who visit here, I felt best to address them somewhat more openly.
Anyway, the commentator in question, a Mr (Ms?) “N. Inquisitor” challenged me in the following ways (And by the way, if you’re reading this, I wish to thank you both for reading and for commenting): It was said that my posts come across as quite complicated when Jesus’ teachings were themselves very straightforward, that they appear to be lacking in love, and that they are perhaps overtly political.
All great points, I’m quite grateful they were raised. This is going to make me think a little more about how best to present my thoughts in the future, but for now I wanted to provide a bit of a defense.
The apparent “complexity” of anything I post is acknowledged, but I’m not necessarily certain that anything I’m putting forward is anything particularly mindbending or hard to understand. I have had certain friends comment on my “intelligence” upon their reading of my work (And I am very flattered by this!), but I’m not convinced that aptitude has much to do with it. I consider myself to be a faithful (and failing) Christian, constantly seeking new growth in my relationship with God in Christ, and striving not only to articulate my convictions but also to search out the ways in which I know I must myself change and repent. I do agree that Jesus’ teachings are (or at least ought to be, for us) very simple and straightforward. What I find unfortunate is that we in the church don’t always find this simplicity to be very practical, and so we invent new ways in which to contort and stretch out scripture in a way that makes us feel more confortable. It is exactly this type of thinking which I oppose, and for this reason I almost feel like I must make out arguments which end up detailed, in an effort to allow us a return to the radical simplicity which leaps at us from the Gospel. I do not consider this to be any kind of skill or intelligence, lest I be arrogant enough to assume that I am capable of holding onto truths which others are not. If ever that were to be the case, I would hope to know instantly that it were not a truth from God, who has hidden the things of Heaven from the wise and revealed them unto children.
The next point… that my posts lack in love. This too concerns me, that I might often fail to convey that Godly love which is absolutely central and paramount to the Christian faith. While I understand how this might happen, and while I promise to watch how I express myself in this regard for future posts, I would say that everything written here… is most definitely done in love. My vision is for Christians to reach a realisation of love in the fullest possible sense of the word. This also ties into the whole point of “simplicity” that you raised, my fellow Inquisitor, when you spoke of how Jesus’ teachings were often straightforward. Well, I would be ecstatic if more of us within the church were to view, say, the Sermon on the Mount with precisely this mindset. To me, there is little more that is plain as the commandment for us to love our enemies, and yet many of us in the church have tragically dismissed the simple nature of this piece of scripture and approached it instead with the attitude of “Jesus couldn’t possibly have meant what this appears to say, He must have meant something different.” And we have fallen into the trap of believing that we can still love a person while having them sentenced to death, that we can still love someone with the love of God and shoot at them in the battlefield. If my posts appear to lack love, then I must apologise for that, but my wish is for my readers to journey with me in understanding what the love of Christ really means and how we effect that in the here and now.
Which somewhat conveniently ties in with your final point… that my posts are overly political. Politics is ultimately reduced to the ways in which human beings interact with one another and with the world around them. In this sense, there isn’t much in the world quite as political as this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your strength, and all your mind. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus did speak of saving souls and bringing healing to those who suffer, absolutely. I identify as an Evangelical Christian and would never wish to remove the vital spiritual component of the Gospels. However, if I get political, it is because I see salvation as a very present event which brings transformation to people in the here and now. I also see healing not just as something miraculous (which it is), but also as something we effect by being agents of the Holy Spirit. I wish to love my neighbour as myself. If my negligence in caring for the environment is inadvertently contributing to a detrimental livelihood for the poorer sectors of society and consuming valuable resources from the earth (thus negating my very spiritual role as a responsible steward of God’s creation), then that is a political matter about which I must necessarily be concerned as a follower of Christ. If I habitually buy from a clothing company which produces its goods off the backs of families in developing nations who are paid well under a sustainable living wage, then that is a political matter about which I must necessarily be concerned as a follower of Christ. If I see my fellow spiritual brethren coopted into nationalistic service of a military which thrives on upholding order by lawfully killing others, then that is a political matter about which I must necessarily be concerned as a follower of Christ. If I am called to love my enemies, and to love my neighbour as myself, then those are political matters which I feel require the attention of any person professing to be a Christian. When all is said and done… love itself is political. Not party political, though, I must add.
I hope this provides some insight into why I often post the way I do. With all of that said, I am going to see if I can keep these critiques in mind when I post from now on, in the hopes that there will be a little more of that fiery Christ-centred love present in my work. Who knows, I may even try to be a little less academically-minded! 🙂
An actual, “proper” post coming soon. Watch this space (Or Bloglines… or Facebook… etc).