Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"I am a secular Christian"

From Cathy Lynn Grossman’s religious discussion blog on USA Today is an article suggesting that the word “secular” is being tossed back and forth in the culture wars to see if is can be used as a safe or as a hot code word.

So much about religion and marketing and consumer polls is about what is the right word to sell or critique a product in this modern age. Religion has become a commodity like everything else on the planet including it’s inhabitants.

Titans like Dick, Newt and Rush devour their young for the ultimate civic pontiff title of it all – God, Country, Power – (hell’s last acre) at present. The rest of us have to settle into a bumpy ride of semantics to help us label what is good or how to communicate in this age of fusion.

It is this present and ongoing fusion of ideas, myths, religions, political structures, economics and the very breath of life itself that is coming together to formulate the ideas and communication touch stones of the future – in a hopefully more civil human Global Town Square.

From the USA Today blog:

The U.S. Constitution is 'secular:' Fighting words?
The word "secular" in European, Muslim and Israeli cultures and, of course, in the USA, has become a verbal grenade.
It is often used -- or rather misused -- interchangeably with "atheist," according to the "Jewish Word" column in the latest issue of Moment, a magazine of contemporary Jewish thought, in which various experts sort through the linguistic thicket.

From the “Jewish Word” Column:

Flash Point in the Culture Wars
“People since the 19th century have said ‘I am a secular Jew’ to mean ‘I am a Jew, but I am not a religiously observant Jew,’” says Susan Jacoby, author of the 2008 The Age of American Unreason who runs The Secularist’s Corner on The Washington Post website. In contrast, “you never hear someone say ‘I am a secular Christian.’”
And of course I had to go out on the Internet to see if anybody actually calls themself a Secular Christian. Voilà.

Statement of Faith by Robert Traer Ph.D
The love of family and friends continues to convince me that love is life's greatest gift. I am grateful for all those who have shared with me this wonderful gift, and I bear witness that these loving persons include Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Unitarian Universalists, agnostics, and atheists, as well as Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

I also give thanks for the Source of all that is. I believe all that we know and are, including our consciousness, our freedom and morality, come from the way the cosmos is evolving. I look to science, literature, history, and religious experience for insight into this wondrous unfolding.

I am a secular Christian. I am secular because I believe all human knowledge is limited and must be tested by experience and reasoning. This includes religious wisdom as well as scientific theories. I support secular government rather than religious government, because history reveals that secular governments are more likely to protect our freedom to pursue the truth through open debate and the rule of law.

I am a Christian because my highest aspirations have been inspired by biblical stories and teachings. I "live and move and have my being" (Acts 17:28) within the witness of scripture.

My faith, however, is not defined by a belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God risen from the dead. I see this as mythological language, which resists (as we should) the claim that Caesar (or any ruler) is god and savior of the world. I find in the symbol of resurrection an affirmation that injustice does not have the final word in history.

The heart of the Christian witness, for me, is the hope that we may know and manifest the love that does not die when we do.

The New Testament stories of Jesus and his followers call me to be more forgiving and to struggle with others for justice and reconciliation. Humbly, I embrace the hope that: "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God in them." (1 John 4:16)

I have found that this wondrous hope is affirmed in many traditions of faith, and is manifested wherever women and men love and forgive one another.

November 2007

1 comment:

Dave said...

Count me in! What a wonderful statement..just fantastic and honest. I got goose bumps just reading it. A huge smile on my face. Thanks Mike..that is special stuff..right there!