One thing it's pretty easy for progressive Christians not to like, though, is, sadly, me.
I know! I can't believe it either! It still shocks me every time one of them yanks a wine glass from my hand and asks me to leave.
"But why?" I respond with wide-eyed incredulity. "I thought we were having such a great conversation."
"Yeah, we were," they say. "Until you joined it. You're to a normal conversation what a backhoe is to a spoon."
But cruel. Witty and cruel. Tough combo. Then again, if Witty & Cruel was a law firm, you'd hire it. But you wouldn't respect yourself in the morning.
Anyway, the reason I tend to in fairly short order utterly fail at blending with progressive Christians is because ... because ... .
I feel a rant coming on.
I knew I shouldn't have had that extra venti latte.
But it's on now. I could no sooner stop this upcoming rant than Willy the whale could have stopped wanting to be free. (I didn't see the movie, but I assume freedom was Willy's goal. Willy was also a killer whale, right? So the reason he wanted to be free can't be good. Willy's kid owners must have been, like, "Free Willy!" And all the dolphins and fish outside of Willy's pen must have been like, "No, don't!" But did we hear their side of the story? No. Freakin' Hollywood. )
But on to my rave. (Though first please allow me to apologize to my truly good friends at The Progressive Christian Alliance [hi, Roger! sorry I was ... born this way!], and also right here at The Christian Left -- whose board of directors I recently joined and you can stop giggling right now.)
So if there's one thing to recommend discussing theology, it's that doing so allows you to remain firmly within the warm and fuzzy confines of The Waffle Zone -- where the food isn't particularly inoffensive, and there's not enough of it.
And nobody more enjoys seeing if they can cram one more angel onto the head of the proverbial pin than does your typical progressive Christian. Progressive "followers of Christ" (and can we please drop that faux-modest nicety, and just call ourselves Christian: why does the right get to keep that word?) are fairly enamored of discussing theology, in the main because doing so affords them two irresistible opportunities: the chance to assume the airs of an intelligent person, and the chance to justify avoiding any thought that actually matters.
Pontification fodder and elaborate waffle dressing! Why, it's like ordering the breakfast platter at the International House of Spinelessness!
(Again: Sorry, friends! I think maybe I'm allergic to caffeine! Don't get up! I'll let myself out!]
A simple-minded person such as myself prefers simple thoughts. Here are two simple thoughts that I think should be fully morphed into the brain (and spine) of anyone with the cajones to call himself a progressive Christian. (Though at all employing the term "progressive Christian" automatically slides you into a booth at IHOS, since it denotes anything from socially progressive, to theologically progressive, to socially progressive but theologically centrist, to theologically progressive but socially centrist, to socially theological but progressively boring, to would you like a little half-flat seltzer water with that half-empty glass of white zinfandel?)
If you're going to call yourself a Christian progressive, I would like to suggest that you step out of the sugary-sweet Waffle Zone, and instead unapologetically claim as your own these two readily comprehensible beliefs:
1. Being gay is no more an indicator of a person's moral status than is the color of their eyes.
2. There is no such thing as hell.
There. Those are two things that all progressive Christians should believe. If you are a Christian who doesn't firmly and comfortably believe these two things, then stop calling yourself a progressive Christian.
Either that, or Christians who believe those things need to adapt for themselves a different name.
Progressive does, after all, imply progress -- which implies Not Done Yet.
So how about finished Christians? Made It Christians? Done Christians?
Well, maybe not done Christians, since that implies a certain je ne sais just got laid. And I, for one, haven't mixed religion and sex since my confounding attraction to Sally Fields as The Flying Nun. And I'm not going back there, man. No way.
Besides, I don't think we Christians should divide ourselves into yet another group. I think existing progressive Christians should just bite the bullet, claim the above two truths, and get on with it.
Maybe one of the reasons progressive Christians are resistant to this is because they find these two beliefs difficult to remember. They are, after all, a brainy bunch -- and those are two extremely simple concepts.
If it is a memory issue, you know what might help with that? Putting those two ideas into the form of a simple rhyming song. That little trick always helps me remember stuff. P-Diddies is what we need -- where the "P" stands for progressive.
So let's try one for the gay belief first:
God's okay with you being gay / 'Cause he knows he made you that way.
Sweet! Catchy! Who could forget that?
Now let's do one about hell.
If you say "You're going to hell!" / then shut the fuck up.
Whoa. Much less catchy. Sorry.
The first big step to creating hell / is telling other people they're going there.
Hey. It's a start.
Next time, I will share all the Biblical, theological, and moral reasoning that any Christian could possibly need to finally and forever get comfortable asserting that there is no hell, and that gay is okay.
(Post submitted by guest blogger John Shore, who also blogs on JohnShore.com. He invites you to "like" his Facebook fan page.)