Adele: Admiring Your Strengths

(Part II of: STARTING WITH OUR WEAKNESS)
Existential Punk
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Click here to read more in this conversation . . .

* Starting With Our Weakness: Peter
* Starting With Our Weakness: Adele


A
DMIRING YOUR STRENGTHS
As I have stated on numerous occasions: I do not know everything, and my weaknesses are abundant. To be truthful – and as hard as it is for me to admit – you have many strengths; strengths that I even admire. The YOU I refer to here are those people who are often my detractors: people with divergent viewpoints from my own, whether theologically, politically, and/or philosophically; people who find me to be a heretic, reprobate, and on my way to hell; people who are anonymous or leave fake email addresses; people who basically like to argue for argument’s sake.

You all challenge me in my arrogance, pride, bullshit, ungraciousness, and anger. Sometimes I am wrong and you call me out on it. Sometimes I am not wrong, but you still brave the waters to express your disagreement. I admire that.

Peter and I are, 'continuing to reflect on what it means to be transparent about our weaknesses. Part of that necessarily demands that we be honest about “your” strengths: those places where you may hold the upper hand in an argument. Or where we haven’t fully developed a cohesive or coherent argument, or apologetic.'

To reorient since the last post…

* * *

Peter Rollins said:
“…What I really want to do is to enter into dialogs where I can talk about the weakest part of my argument and you can talk about the weakest part of your argument. and I can accept and celebrate the strongest part of your arguments and visa-versa.”

* * *

We’re inspired to celebrate the strongest part of your arguments. Here’s why that’s both natural and difficult for me to do: I became a conservative Evangelical, charismatic, non-denominational Christian during my sophomore year of college in January, 1989. I was on fire for the Lord where I went to church 2 to 3 times a week, joined Bible studies, volunteered in the youth group, witnessed by going door to door and handing out tracts, attended prayer meetings, et al. Inspirational preachers visited our church where we had healing services following the preaching. We often hosted big praise and worship services and contemporary Christian concert events. Each of these always had an altar call at the end. Even though I got brutally burned, which left a bad taste in my mouth and a lot of disdain I’m still working through, I am beginning to recognize there is much that I can learn and admire from my early Christian roots. I do not like to be boxed in, so I need to remember not to box YOU in! I am aware that not all Evangelical or conservative Christians manifest or concur with the following observations I make, but for those who do, here are some STRENGTHS I observe and admire:

EVANGELICAL/CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS are. . .

* Committed to G-D with heartfelt passion

* Care about and are concerned for the well being of others

* Are very serious about Truth and scriptures

* Attempt to live moral lives


Here is my attempt to flesh these out more:

1. Evangelical/Conservative Christians are “sold out” for G-D and living a life expressing that personally and publicly. They are not ashamed of who they are or what they believe.

I see a weakness in the Liberal Mainline Church of not being outward in their expressions of faith. For many it, is public by going to church on Sunday, but then the rest of their faith remains private. For those on the Evangelical/Conservative side this is a puzzling thing for them to grasp. For them, to compartmentalize is foreign and even un-Christian. With a desire to respect all people and honor differing religions, liberal Christians avoid “proclaiming” too loudly… but that translates into lacking the enthusiasm conservatives have in spades.

2. Evangelical/Conservative Christians are genuinely concerned with what happens to others. They care about their needs, physically, emotionally and spiritually. They pray for others, often spending great lengths in intercessory prayer for people and nations.

3. Evangelical/Conservative Christians take the Bible very seriously, and work very hard to see how it applies to their lives. They seek out Truth and G-D's will in their lives, and desire to please and obey G-D. They spend staggering amounts of time seeking G-D through the Holy Spirit, praying to discern how best to live according to the Bible.

4. Evangelical/Conservative Christians attempt to live upright, moral lives in order to obey and be pleasing to G-D. They want to do right. They want to avoid wrong. They are tireless advocates for upright living, and are often great examples.

As G-D-loving human beings, we have a lot more in common than many of us remember or care sometimes to admit. Though sometimes disappointing and painful, I’m beginning to be thankful for my Evangelical background and the things it taught me about G-D. I’m thankful for the opportunity to reflect on the ways faith can connect and enrich our divergent, complicated lives. At times, we may not agree on very much, but I hope we can always find areas of common ground, and admire common beauty. Divergent viewpoints paired with love and respect are what make this world a beautiful place to live in, and I think make G-D smile.

Shalom!

15 comments:

Al said...

I've been thinking on a similar track and came to the conclusion (for now at least!) that there is value and strength in many of the things that others may believe strongly in, but I might not. I may now (like you) be questioning some of my charismatic/evangelical roots, rethinking what I am supposed to be. I may feel I am to have a rather different focus and purpose. BUT God has His purposes for charismatics, and is calling them to continue to be who they are. Their strengths are valid for them. Indeed, they are valid to God. But they may not be valid for me.
So, I need to celebrate their calling, but follow my own--and not expect them to drop everything and become like me.

Sabio Lantz said...

I am just learning the spin of this blog. When I read this post, I admired its wisdom and vulnerability. Then I was it was addressing evangelical-conservatives. "Wow, if this was being addressed to atheists", I thought, "it would have been perfect." Then I looked at the bulleted list of commonality that Adele sketched, and I wondered what the list would look like for atheists.

Ironically, I similarly wrote up a note on Why I Troll Christian Sites, with my list what I like about Christians. Peter kindly visited and left a note.

I have a post called the Debater's Golden Rule which agrees with the quote by Peter Rollins.

Bad Alice said...

I have also been thinking about this lately. I work for a very conservative evangelical organization and yet am not myself a conservative evangelical Christian. As many times as it has driven me nuts, I also admire just the traits you list. I have seen genuine caring for others in both personal interactions and in the ministries they develop, such as disaster response and ministries for individuals and families with special needs. This is a reminder to me to watch out for my arrogance.

Bad Alice said...

Sabio: I just went to your site and really enjoyed your site. Your post on generous translations is great. Even though I'm not an atheist, I still take recourse to generous translations pretty frequently.

Existential Punk said...

@Al,

i LOVED it when you said sso eloquently this:

'I may feel I am to have a rather different focus and purpose. BUT God has His purposes for charismatics, and is calling them to continue to be who they are. Their strengths are valid for them. Indeed, they are valid to God. But they may not be valid for me.
So, I need to celebrate their calling, but follow my own--and not expect them to drop everything and become like me.'

AMEN!

Existential Punk said...

@Sabio,

'When I read this post, I admired its wisdom and vulnerability.' THANK YOU very much!

i read your post on WHY YOU TROLL CHRISTIAN SITES and really appreciated your level of vulnerability and open mindedness. THANK YOU for sharing. i think it is important to engage with others with whom we disagree so as not to get caught up in the echo chamber. Yet, i find people who disagree with me who are not open minded fall into their very own echo chamber when not really being interested in listening to divergent views.

Warmest Regards,
Adele

Existential Punk said...

@Bad Alice,

i am with you on this:

'This is a reminder to me to watch out for my arrogance.'

i must be reminded everyday!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

All the best,
Adele

Sabio Lantz said...

@ Adele
I couldn't tell if your last sentence to me was trying to imply that my gestures are fake? That is the problem with written words, no tones.
Thanx,
Sabio

Existential Punk said...

@Sabio,

i was in NO way implying your gestures are fake. i was referring to people in general who really have no interest in TRUE converstaion/dialogue, but who have an agenda to preach at people.

i REALLY appreciated your comments and your blog! So sorry if i was unclear! :)

Best,
Adele

Sabio Lantz said...

ah, NP, glad I asked.
Peace !

Peter said...

Sabio,
Thanks for the comment(s). My view of my own words is certainly anecdotal, but I would say I tend to be far more gracious, patient, understanding and hospitable to atheists and agnostics here than to Conservative Evangelicals. That's one of the reasons Adele and I wanted to address this specifically to them: because we recognize our need to reach out, love, befriend, engage, and exist in community with those BELIEVERS who differ from us in so many things, from theology and Christology to politics and worldview.

But please be certain that I (and I think I could speak for both of us: WE) absolutely feel as loving and as thankful for our sisters and brothers who do not profess a particular faith, but strive to live lives of hope, love, peace and kindness.

I look forward to an ongoing online friendship, Sabio!

Peter said...

Bad Alice,
I am continually thankful for folks like you and Irritable, who maintain ventures, careers and ministries WITHIN Conservative Christian environments you are not exactly A PART OF. None of us flourishes or achieves our highest potential in an echo-chamber. We need diversity and divergent opinions to challenge, stretch, grow and nourish us! I hope there are some secret conservatives in my church, quietly subverting our high-minded liberalism with quietly simplistic prayer and reverence.

Irritable said...

Sadly, I'm just now paying attention to this discussion. Good stuff. I love the "generous translations" bit. I've made it a hobby to try to understand evangelical belief claims on similar terms (though my translations are not exclusively "generous").

I'm committed to the idea that most people have non-pathological reasons for believing the things that they do, and none of us has a claim on the "really real."

Great conversation.

gracerules said...

Adele & Peter - I've been enjoying this series. Some of the things that you have been saying reminded me of something else that Pete Rollins wrote about...the story about two different people coming to him to get his opinion on whether the church they attended was speaking the truth - it was the same church that both people attended - one loved the church and found value in what the church had to offer and teach - to that one Pete said his opinion was that the church was teaching truth - the other person was unhappy with his experience of the church and felt the church was not teaching the truth and to that person Pete said his opinion was that the church was not teaching truth ... do you remember the story? I think it is from How Not To Speak Of God. That kind of thinking does not have to devalue what we believe but it can help us to believe what we believe "in a right way".

I come from an evangelical culture. I have left a lot of what I was taught behind but one thing that I do try to hold on to from that time of my life is the commitment to faithfulness that was ingrained in me. I may not agree on what I should be faithful to or about - but it was there that I learned to have a passion and desire to be a faithful person.

Existential Punk said...

@Liz,

i agree with what you said here:

'That kind of thinking does not have to devalue what we believe but it can help us to believe what we believe "in a right way".'

Some would say that is relativism but not me. i think we all grow at different speeds and G-D reveals different things to us at different times, imho.

i also resonated deeply with what you said here:

'I may not agree on what I should be faithful to or about - but it was there that I learned to have a passion and desire to be a faithful person.'

AMEN!

EP/Adele

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