Right now as I type, the inter-webs is still blowing up along the hashtag #ThingsJesusNeverSaid – This is a very clever thing. A place for progressive Christians, non-Christians, and conservative Christians to sling the proverbial spit and mud at their blind counterparts in 140 characters or less.

I have to admit many of the posts made me chuckle. Many made me angry. Many more made me quite sad. Again we’ve found a way to rob our ‘one anothers’ from civil discourse and meaningful dialogue. We continue to pursue biting memes and short-hand kvetching as opposed to sincere conversation.

We can stand around pointing fingers all day long but on this day (It is ‘Good Friday’ as I write) no fingers were being pointed by Jesus. In fact on this day Jesus said very few things…one of the more profound things that the New Testament declares he said is, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

It breaks my heart that the church that is to be known for its ‘love of one another’ is instead trotting around and showing its disdain for one another. This is always the danger of taking a religion that had a communal concept of life and salvation and allowing it to transition into a faith that is all about personal salvation and personal gain/growth. If we could only return to the time when the church was in it together…not to win rhetorical dance-offs but rather a time when the heart of the faithful was about lifting the oppressed, serving the marginalized, caring for the downtrodden.

Jesus, it is said, died for the entire world…not for those we like or agree with. Jesus exposes power structures that rob others of their fullness of life. Jesus served the oppressed in order that their hope might be restored.

The irony of #ThingsJesusNeverSaid is that most folks sincerely believe that Jesus is in full agreement with their quips. I find it hard to imagine that Jesus, who fought for the dignity of ALL people, would side specifically with any of us in our foray into Twitter fame.

Put down your hashtags…put aside your polemics…lift up your neighbor whether they are gay or straight, conservative or liberal, male or female, fundamentalist or progressive, religious or not, optimistic or pessimistic, friend or enemy.

Because the one thing we are assured of in the Gospels is that Jesus did say to “love our enemies” and on this particular Holiday we are even called to remember that Jesus not only loved them he also stood before G_d asking on their behalf for their forgiveness. May we learn something from this day of remembrance.

Peace to you and yours. Remember: Agreement should never be a prerequisite for loving others.

Beginning from the End

We begin so many conversations from the end; from our conclusions. I find this to be unhelpful both when we agree and when we disagree. When we agree we assume the journey that was travelled was either the same or very similar…this, of course, allows us to swim in very shallow waters. The second problem with this is that the underlying fundamental belief that brought us (or, at the least, was our foundation) to our conclusion(s) may be diametrically opposed and therefore our conclusions are incompatible with each other!

What, then, with ones we are in disagreement? The inherent danger is that to argue backwards from differing conclusions is that it is nearly impossible to make an argument (convincingly) from a premise that the other sees as fundamentally flawed.

So, then, where do we begin? I would argue that we must begin at the last place that we found mutual footing (keeping in mind the problem with agreeing from above), this becomes our common ground that we can at any moment return in order to reorient or return to civility.

Today, we are inundated with memes, sloganeering, and bumper stickers that contain polemic conclusions and no effort to help bring about understanding and mutual appreciation for the other’s view, intellect, and lifelong experience. The danger of anonymity today also plays into this..we are able to lay in wait, unseen in the fringes of the internet’s forest – sniper rifle raised just waiting to fire upon those whom you oppose. No chance for them to confront their assailant.

I recently came across a statement that we must be reminded that even though we do the vast majority of communicating with others through machines, gadgets, and objects –> we truly are interacting with subjects! (See Martin Buber’s I and Thou for a great treatise on the importance of others as subjects!)

The great tragedy of our day is that we have so many ways to communicate with each other…we’ve lost the appreciation of that time. Flippancy and shortness rule the day…gone are the days of handwritten notes and other thoughtful discourse. Text messages, tweets, Facebook status updates – these are the things that line our shallow shores.

So let’s start from the beginning – let’s start from a place of mutual adoration and appreciation for the other’s views. Respecting one another and treating them as humans and not objects to be discarded. Maybe then we’ll get some place a bit deeper and more meaningful.