Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Watchman

I recently heard of a family who, living in Texas, became discouraged with environmental blight and moved to the pristine Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania only to find that the property they now owned was part of an environmental disaster. I have a parallel story: When I left my home in Colorado Springs, Colorado I grieved in many ways at the loss of home, friends, church, support, stability, but one thing I did not grieve was the new “meanness” I found in the community that was home to hundreds of religious institutions.

Funny how things and events move from one part of the country to another; I am now concerned about the future of my new home. In our local weekly paper last Thursday, a major story talked about conservative Christians – 84 strong – assembled by a "few Christian entrepreneurs ... to unite local leaders, provide them with resources and grow a nationwide movement. The speakers said the nation is in a weakened state, financially and morally, and there is an urgent need for Christians to do something about it.” (Wellsboro Gazette, June 10, 2009, The Marketplace, p 1)To me, this sounds like Colorado Springs.

REACTIONS: At first, I wanted to write a letter to the editor, expressing my feelings of sadness and alarm that a conservative few would speak for all of us - the conservative Christians in Colorado Springs are the most vocal of the religious community. Next, I thought to coalesce some of my denominational clergy to let them know what to expect - that appeared to be premature. Finally, I determined to write this blog. I am afraid that this new area of the country I now call home will become like the old place I left and I will be a clone of the Texas family who traded one horror for another.

I think Henri Nouwen says what I need to remember:

Your unique presence in your community is the way God wants you to be present to others. Different people have different ways of being present. You have to know and claim your way. That is why discernment is so important. Once you have an inner knowledge of your true vocation, you have a point of orientation. That will help you decide what to do and what to let go of, what to say and what to remain silent about, when to go out and when to stay home, who to be with and who to avoid.
Henri Nouwen “The Inner Voice of Love”

Following Nouwen's advice, I need to find and speak with like minded individuals, I need to avoid those who would take me down a road that is counter to my own Christian beliefs to be Jesus-like by supporting the weakest in our community, and I need to avoid the dissidents just as I must be vocal when I can make a difference.

It is difficult not to write letters or shout from roof-tops, to watch and wait. But I will, alert to what longer-term effects come from the “few Christian entrepreneurs” who started the ball rolling on this.

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