Thursday, July 21, 2011

All That We Let In

I love the Indigo Girls. My dad loves their music, so I grew up on it. Nobody warned me that being obsessed with them would cause people to make assumptions about my sexual orientation in high school; but that's beside the point.

The Indigo Girls have a beautiful song called "All That We Let In." Click here to listen to a sample. Below are the lyrics to the first verse and the chorus:

Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it's sticking to your skin
But we're better off for all that we let in

And I don't know where it all begins
And I don't know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in


I've come to see something that seems to be a part of a lot of religious practice that really bothers me. Many Christian seem to me to be preoccupied with keeping out the bad. Being "a good Christian" comes to be about a Puritanical list of "don't"s designed to shield us from bad influence.

I've seen it play out countless times, whether in the controversy over the movie based on Philip Pullman's book The Golden Compass (at least one religiously affiliated school in Durham sent letters home to parents warning them not to allow their children to see the movie) or in the continuing debates over homosexuality, where much of the rhetoric seems to me to be driven by a fear of "traditional" morals and marriage being undermined by the presence of people from the LGBTQ community. Paranoia over movies puzzles and amuses me; the idea that the presence of another human being might pollute a well-to-do community disgusts me.

I believe what the Indigo Girls sang: "We're better off for all that we let in." I think that the church as a whole as Christians as individuals need to shift from a position of defensiveness to one of openness and receptivity. Insulating ourselves from people who disagree with us and experiences that don't fit our understanding of how things should be make us, well, insular. And fearful.

When we draw such black-and-white boundaries on what we can and cannot do or see or feel and who we can or cannot know or associate with or befriend, we create a culture of fear that prevents us from living into the abundance of God's love. There is nowhere you can go where God's love will not follow you. Some rules are there for good reason, but obedience to rules for rules' sake is a vain attempt at controlling God (see my post on Timothy Keller's book The Prodigal God). Obedience is part of Christian discipleship, but it should flow from love and not from fear.

Open yourself up to life. You might be surprised by the places where God can meet you.

1 comments:

Felipe Neumann said...

Love and peace... or else!
Life's supposed to be lived - freely, culture's supposed to be shared - tirelessly, and one's uniqueness is supposed to be respected, God wouldn't want it any other way.
He knows humans come with no previous political-sexual-religious alignment warranty. We're not supposed to be perfect, whatever that means, and were not supposed to be what others claim to be "good".
We just exist, thus, we should let others exist as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

All That We Let In

I love the Indigo Girls. My dad loves their music, so I grew up on it. Nobody warned me that being obsessed with them would cause people to make assumptions about my sexual orientation in high school; but that's beside the point.

The Indigo Girls have a beautiful song called "All That We Let In." Click here to listen to a sample. Below are the lyrics to the first verse and the chorus:

Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it's sticking to your skin
But we're better off for all that we let in

And I don't know where it all begins
And I don't know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in


I've come to see something that seems to be a part of a lot of religious practice that really bothers me. Many Christian seem to me to be preoccupied with keeping out the bad. Being "a good Christian" comes to be about a Puritanical list of "don't"s designed to shield us from bad influence.

I've seen it play out countless times, whether in the controversy over the movie based on Philip Pullman's book The Golden Compass (at least one religiously affiliated school in Durham sent letters home to parents warning them not to allow their children to see the movie) or in the continuing debates over homosexuality, where much of the rhetoric seems to me to be driven by a fear of "traditional" morals and marriage being undermined by the presence of people from the LGBTQ community. Paranoia over movies puzzles and amuses me; the idea that the presence of another human being might pollute a well-to-do community disgusts me.

I believe what the Indigo Girls sang: "We're better off for all that we let in." I think that the church as a whole as Christians as individuals need to shift from a position of defensiveness to one of openness and receptivity. Insulating ourselves from people who disagree with us and experiences that don't fit our understanding of how things should be make us, well, insular. And fearful.

When we draw such black-and-white boundaries on what we can and cannot do or see or feel and who we can or cannot know or associate with or befriend, we create a culture of fear that prevents us from living into the abundance of God's love. There is nowhere you can go where God's love will not follow you. Some rules are there for good reason, but obedience to rules for rules' sake is a vain attempt at controlling God (see my post on Timothy Keller's book The Prodigal God). Obedience is part of Christian discipleship, but it should flow from love and not from fear.

Open yourself up to life. You might be surprised by the places where God can meet you.

1 comments:

Felipe Neumann said...

Love and peace... or else!
Life's supposed to be lived - freely, culture's supposed to be shared - tirelessly, and one's uniqueness is supposed to be respected, God wouldn't want it any other way.
He knows humans come with no previous political-sexual-religious alignment warranty. We're not supposed to be perfect, whatever that means, and were not supposed to be what others claim to be "good".
We just exist, thus, we should let others exist as well.

 

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