Perception is a funny thing. Particularly in political seasons we tend to quickly label both ourselves and others. There’s so much information, and misinformation, swirling around us we want shorthand to simplify things. And so ________ becomes “good” and ________ becomes “bad.”
But context is also crucial. For example – I’ve had some great conversations with parishioners who would hastily deny being “progressive” and would be much more comfortable with a label like “conservative.” I respect that – and yet I don’t think there is anyone at West Heights who thinks that women are not called to be pastors. We, here at West Heights, and for the most part in the entire UMC, take that as a settled issues. Women are called to be pastors, fit to be ordained, even to be Bishops. Yet that is still a fairly “progressive” stance within the larger body of Christians and certainly within the totality of religious thought. Roman Catholics, Southern Baptist, even Presbyterians in Australia, do not consider women fit to be pastors. The “conservative” Salvation Army does ordain women as “officers” at all levels but Anglicans/Episcopalians, often thought of as a fairly progressive bunch, are still debating if women can be Bishops, with different parts of their worldwide communion holding different polity.
In politics – whatever your thoughts on our nation’s debate on health care, the fact is that a conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, devised the blueprint that was used for the Affordable Care Act – which is now praised by “the left” and decried as heavy handed socialism by “the right.” Funny that.
It’s a complex world. There are many (many!) people that I disagree with – and yet we also have commonalities. One of the things that most strikes me about the life and ministry of Jesus, indeed about the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus – is that God doesn’t seem to hold much stock in our differences but embraces them. Not to simplistically erase them – but because they are part of the larger, intended, diversity and splendor of creation. Maybe that’s because if we are all thinking alike, then nobody is really doing much thinking. Blessings on your journey.