The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Be Relevant, Be Joy-filled, Be Compassionate

Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless.
Abraham Heschel

This Polish born American rabbi and leading theologian has it right (of course he does). For faith today to make inroads in society, it must be relevant, active, loving, compassionate, joyful, ... in other words, overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit. The faithful need to roll up their sleeves, enter their neighborhoods, and find out how they can partner with all who struggle there to help improve lives, save lives, and create a better world where they live. The faithful who also believe like Abraham Heschel did need to speak out and write compassionately and engagingly to counter the strident voices of religions that have become irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid, replacing faith with creed, etc. Right now, those voices drown out the rest and all of us are tarred with the same brush. All religion is being lumped into one angry, fuming, irrelevant basket, which does none of us any good. Speak out, engage, live out a loving faith for all to see.  

Right now I'm teaching a Sunday School series requiring articles on specific topics written by Christians (pastors, theologians, etc.) and finding writers who are not of the conservative/evangelical stripe (and there are some great writers in this tradition--don't get me wrong) is very difficult. Moderate to liberal voices of faith simply aren't being heard ... and that is simply wrong, especially for a religion that wants to remain relevant.

I found this quote introducing the first chapter of The Luminous Web:Essays on Science and Religion, by Barbara Brown Taylor

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