Posts Tagged 'church'

Doing The Unthinkable

Every household has its own little culture. Within Thor’s and mine, I did the unthinkable last night: I drove (did not walk) the 3/10 mile from our house over to choir practice.

This was not even in the Prius or other hybrid we have yet to purchase, but in our 1993 Nissan Sentra. As I was stepping out the door to walk to the church, I realized there was a hard, driving rain. Changing into rain gear would make me late. I didn’t want to be either late or soaked, so I jumped into the car for the 3/10 mile journey. Normal in many households; unthinkable in mine.

How would I respond to a ‘normal’ person’s charge of being obsessively PC (politically correct)? Well, my answer is about context and about the dismissive power of labels.

The context is that Portland Oregon (where we live) wins awards for being the Most Sustainable City in the nation. We are ‘early adopters’ in that arena, with excellent public transit, bike lanes, land use and biodiesel availability. So my household makes choices in a city-state context of sustainability.

Concerning the label of PC or any other label: it’s a form of dismissal. For instance, to say that New Yorkers are rude, or Southerners ignorant, dismisses them from further thought. It also makes them lower-than, less worthy than the one labeling them. “Portlanders not wanting to drive? How PC!” — and the speaker and listener toss away the notion of driving less, without thinking about what they’ve tossed.

That thing of not thinking is how we’ve landed in the global warming mess we’re in.

My work-day today involves getting input from my statewide transportation-options group about my idea of an Oregon residential energy tax credit (RETC, rhymes with Betsy) for carpooling, and then meeting up with a leader of the state’s Drive Less, Save More publicity campaign.

And you can bet I will not be driving to those meetings — though I’ll admit to my colleagues my slip-up last night :).

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Confession: I Love Church

Most of us have a closeted part of ourselves, a part we don’t readily reveal. For some, it is sexual orientation, or political beliefs. But for me, it is the fact that I love church and love to worship God there, with others.

Why am I shy about this, when I am not known for shyness in general? There’s more than one reason, but just one I can tackle before I walk over to my Methodist church at 6161 SE Stark (I’m writing on Sunday morning).

A progressive church-lover in Portland, Oregon (that would be me) is somewhat like a black person in a white school — prior to integration. There are few of us, and we find ourselves on the defensive. Our progressive friends associate church with political stances toward the poor, for example, that are the polar opposite of what Jesus actually taught. My friends are outraged. And I am too, but at those political stances, not at Jesus or God.

My confession here to the secular blogoshere is that I believe with all my heart in a loving Creator that cherishes you and me and every living thing on earth. At church, I’m practicing that belief. I feel it most strongly while singing the hymns (and if you want to experience some kick-ass lyrics, just pick up a copy of the New Century Hymnal and start reading).

I tell you, a person can find both comfort and fierce joy in this church thing. Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers, describes it well in her nonfiction books, and even makes us laugh in the process.

I am a churchgoing believer, at the same time that I’m committed to sustainability and progressive politics. That is my confession. I’ll be delighted if you post a comment. I’ll publish it after I walk back from church. Related post: Consuming Jesus and the Diamond-Cut Life.