A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Boobs and Atheists, (got your attention, huh?)

Twice in the last week I have heard female politicians criticized for their breast size. (Once Hillary Clinton and once Michelle Bachman, so we cover the whole political spectrum.)  Apparently competence in governing is proportional to boob size.  Sort of explains the state of things in male-dominated Washington.  

Not only does the sexism of these comments infuriate me, it causes me to despair we may be losing our ability to carry on rational conversations over topics about which there is much disagreement.  But, then there are other conversations which give me hope.  I notice the sources of these conversations are atheists, agnostics, and those outside of the church more often than Christians.   

As I reflected upon this fact, I realized there are some things I would like to say to these often thoughtful, caring, forward thinking brothers and sisters in the human species.   

And so, to my fellow humans who prefer an athiestic or agnostic way of thinking and to those who have been turned away by the Christian church:

First, I want to acknowledge the Christian privilege which is a reality in the USA.  I would not have thought of it as a privilege if not for your insightful comments.  But now that my eyes are open, I see it everywhere.  The assumption of Christian beliefs or at least the belief in a god, is pervasive.

Secondly, I want to acknowledge the defensiveness in myself and others like me when we hear your right and just criticisms of Christianity.  I so often want to say, “but I don’t believe that!” I want to beg you not to judge all people of faith by the loudest amongst us and point out it is difficult to be heard when one is trying to be respectful in a sea of angry voices and power plays.  But the history of the Christian religion humbles me enough to think listening needs to be my priority.  When “They will know we are Christians by our love” has become laughable, when those like me speak such words with desperate longing and those like you are too often justified in speaking them with derision, humility needs to be the word of the day for me. 

In fact, even when I feel the sting of words implying no one of any intelligence could have my beliefs, still I feel I should set aside my defensiveness and let my commitment to thoughtful, open and informed dialogue speak for itself.

Too much pain has been caused by those who call themselves “Christian.”  Perhaps it would be better if those of us who recognize this fact commit a public act of repentance by letting go this name.  After all, due humility would make it seem more appropriate to use the name of the one we follow rather than a title which in some ways speaks to the very type of power he eschewed (Christ meaning anointed one, anointing a way of crowning a king).  Perhaps something like "Jesus Followers" would be better.

Even more important than all of this, though, is what I sense beneath the conversations we share: many of you have a similar commitment to compassion and justice to that which I hold as central.  Perhaps we, together, could turn away from those so loudly muddying the waters with talk of judgment and words of prejudice.  Perhaps we could turn our focus toward all people, of any religion or philosophy, whose highest priorities are working for the sake of peace, justice, and mercy for all the world.

I have this suspicion and this hope: if we joined together behind such ideals as compassion, freedom, and justice we could do amazing things...

regardless of our boob size or...you know, whatever.


Charlene said...

Owning my "amen, sister!" I'll work with you for compassion, freedom, justice, and more boobs in Washington DC (and all other levels of government too). :)

Sheri Ellwood said...

Thanks, Charlene!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a great, thought-provoking post! I could not agree more.

You didn't dwell on the hostility with which atheists sometimes attack people who believe in God: "the sting of words implying no one of any intelligence could have my beliefs."

I have to wonder how much of the hostility comes from atheists' insecurity about their own beliefs. You know the saying, "If you're not sure, yell it louder."

BTW, you and I think along the same lines (including the stupidity of sexist remarks in politics):


Sheri Ellwood said...

Thanks. For the comments rinth89! It is interesting that we landed on such a similar title:). There may be some insecurity behind some atheists' more biting comments but I also think there is a lot of justified frustration because of the privilege Christians claim in our society and the closed minded ness of the more vocal Christians in the USA. Thanks again for reading and commenting. I will have to check out your writing too.