Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Just what is it we're about? 

I was reading yet another article about the 50-50 split in America in the 2000 election and in the coming election. This particular article thought that John Kerry might win in a landslide in November. (I don't think so.) And then, of course, I was reading an article about the homosexuality split in the Episcopal church and the problems the Methodists are having during their general conference this week on the same issue. Those in favor of reaching out to gays in the Methodist Church note that Methodists are in agreement on 90% of issues but they are focusing all energies on that 10% problem. So, splits, schisms, disagreement, hatred.

Perhaps the first dozen pages of C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" affected me more than I thought, because this is just what the book was saying, focus people on their disagreements, focus on the offenses. Anyway, I wondered about the split between Catholic East and Catholic West and read just a wonderful short history of the matter. The history says that there were often disagreements between the East and West, but always they were resolved with each side agreeing that the other brought unique and valued gifts to the faith. But once Christianity was state-sponsored, well then. That was it. Disagreement was punished harshly and often horribly and finally... and the One Faith split.

How does that apply to today? To abortion? To gay marriage? To married priests? To a split Senate? To a divided nation? How can anyone get beyond making the other side say, "Uncle" and progress to what we're about? And just what is it we're about? Is the purpose of the church to eliminate sin from the world? Is our purpose here on Earth to make sure everyone agrees on what is good and on what is bad, what is right and what is wrong?

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