What a wild ride.
My nights are later in seminary than they ever were in undergrad. Consistently, I'm forced to remain awake pondering the intricacies of Christianity and the merits of alternative theology well into the wee morning hours.
Tonight was only supposed to be a fun gathering to watch the presidential debate. Somehow, we went all the way from ridiculing W's facial expressions to the centrality (or lack thereof) of the resurrection in Christianity. While the former is certainly a topic worthy of discussion, and perhaps the subject of a future post, the latter is what's keeping me awake tonight.
I'm constantly at war with myself about issues like this. On the broadest level, how much time should we spend on issues in theology? Couldn't we better spend our time acting out our beliefs and offering relief and redemption to someone who is actually suffering in the here and now? On the other hand, I love discussing and arguing the ideas, the concepts, and their implications. I feel a powerful call to be engaged in conversation and debate, but was raised in a tradition that emphasizes practice, action, and energetic justice work instead.
But we do talk about these things. And tonight, the topic was the resurrection, and its centrality to our religion. I'm not sure where I stand on the question. But I don't want to be declared a heretic or unfit for membership in the body because of that uncertainty. If certainty were the criteria for belonging, I wouldn't belong to much at all. Yes, I long for a community of believers in which I can place myself that stands firm on its convictions, and acts through those convictions. But so often, that firmness, much like in George W. Bush, turns into obstinacy and narrow vision. And so I recognize the need to make space for diversity, to appreciate the depth it brings to community and conversation. Which one do we lean more heavily on? Which one gets stifled more? We agree upon this creed, these essential tenets of the religion, but we can only do so after kicking somebody (Arius, anyone?) out, someone whose ideas may have been just as valid as ours, only didn't meet the standards of popular preference. The balance is almost impossible to acieve.
But my theologians get it - they talk with me about it. They try to convince me that I am wrong, but listen to what I have to say. They think we're all crazy blasphemers, but stay on for three more hours, contributing to the discussion and moving it forward. They stand in chairs preaching (to a bunch of seminary students, what can only be called the choir of choirs) because their passion overtakes them, but sit down, remember, and remind us, that our disagreements can only be done in love. That is balance. That is evangelism. That is love.