Saturday, February 5, 2011

Be a Champion?

Some of you may know this, but part of my growing up was being a member of Cascade Hills, a megachurch in Columbus, GA.  I don't really talk about it as part of my formation narrative because we didn't go there very long, and it wasn't very formative for me.  I never really felt like I was part of any community.  My mom and stepdad met there, though, so it definitely had an impact on my life.

Since my time there (almost eight? nine years ago?) the pastor now has his own ministries something.  I'm not sure what I'd call it, though the website looks like it's a store mostly.  I don't know how to call it anything because it's so far from my context, I think.  Except when I'm honest it's not.  Barbara Brown Taylor is a personality.  She's a priest, yes, but she's a personality, too.  I'd just call her an author and writer.

I was poking around tonight and came upon the blog entry "Be a Champion" which disturbed me a little.  Here's a (longish) excerpt (emphasis mine):

You and I can have a championship season in our own lives. 2011 is a year for you to start fresh! God already has great plans for you this year. He says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The question is, do you believe it’s going to be a championship year for you? As you hit the ground running in 2011, plan for the best. Like all of these teams you should work as hard as you can with everything you’ve got. It may not be without challenges, but that’s [okay] because champions fight all the way to the end. I want to encourage you to set your sights high and keep pressing on. With the right determination you can be a champion in 2011!
While part of me thinks that this might be a few logical steps away from Pelagianism, but that's not my point/focus tonight.  Rather, I ask what about the people who work as hard as they can and lose their job, find late stage cancer, or financially just can't make it anymore.  What about people who find themselves being pressed by systems they can't control, systems that aren't set up to help people, except helping people already in positions of power get more?

I don't want to go on a left wing rant here, either.  I think it's a worthy statement, but my big question/learning here is ambiguity in making statements from someone who's ordained.  The statements Bill makes are certainly good news!  Sort of.  "God's got a plan, you have to reach the places he wants you to prosper.  Just stick to it, and you'll be fine."  That's not life.  And this kind of set-up sets people up to either be very comforted by their faith or start walking the fine line of losing their faith.  Where's God's plan when they can't keep going?  How is cancer part of God's plan to prosper?

Some people's faith gives them comfort and gives them a way to see people getting sick as part of God's plan.  Some people's faith wouldn't ever assign that to part of God's plan but put that more into the realm of theodicy.  And some people's faith reject God because God's plan, if that's what their cancer is, sucks, so they'd rather not have that plan or planner.  I think people in positions of religious leadership (me learning for the future) need to have room for ambiguity and for the negatives of life.  There is hope in bad circumstances, but that requires acknowledging that bad circumstances happen when no one -- not even God -- is at fault.

PS - I also found this gem as I was looking for links for things above: WHY THE BOOK OF REVELATION IS HERESY.  Enjoy.

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