Every now and again I’ll get a friend request, or a Twitter notification that I’m being followed, from someone whose outlook on life is so divergent from mine that causes me to get a bit nervous. I enjoy blogging and sharing ideas, and even being honestly disagreed with, but I’ve also been attacked by the social networking piranha so I do tend to keep my guard up.
This isn’t to say that the only people I connect with on social networking sites agree with me, quite the opposite in fact. It is to say, however, that I’m wary of people who are are looking to disagree with me due to some misguided crusade mentality. I’m even more wary of people who begin to follow me thinking that I AM just like them, only to become angry when the find out that I’m not. So if you’re following me around the networks, or if you are thinking about following me around the networks, let me lay some things out for you.
- I’m not a Republican. If you follow me because you want a place to share your “wink wink, nudge nudge” comments about how evil Obama is, please go follow someone else – I’m not interested.
- I’m not a Democrat. I shouldn’t even feel the need to share this publicly, but I will anyway – my voting record is all over the place. I’ve voted Democrat, Republican, and even Green party depending on the election. If, among the candidates, I can’t find someone I feel would be good for the community, I write someone in. I say this because when my Republican friends hear that I’m not a Republican they tend to immediately say, “How you can you be a Democrat?” I’m not. I think the Democratic party is part of the same pandering, money-grubbing, power-hungry system that the Republican party is a part of.
- I’m not an Evangelical. I used to be, but over the past few years it’s become a designation I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable with. I try not to make this a big deal publicly, because I find that to be a cheap way to disassociate with people I might find personally embarrassing (a tactic which tends to irk me, keep reading). If I critique Evangelicals, it’s because I’m part of the same family not because I want to throw a group of people under the bus.
- I’m not a Charismatic. I don’t hate hymns, I don’t find it uplifting to mock liturgy, and I think Tradition is a good thing. I’m filled with the Holy Spirit, but my experience of the Holy Spirit’s power is profoundly different from that of my Charismatic brothers and sisters. My different perspective causes me to use much different language about the Spirit.
- I’m a student of history. I get seriously annoyed by people try to re-write American history into their preferred image. This goes both for the Neo-Atheist tendency to claim that the founders weren’t religious in the slightest and the Evangelical tendency to believe that the founders were good, 20th Century, Evangelical Christians. Neither is true, and the truth is more wonderful and complex that most people are willing to embrace.
- I’m a pretty bad Baptist. I have serious problems with “soul liberty,” especially when combined with the individualist mentality of Western Civilization. I love liturgy, prayer postures, and my theology of worship is profoundly mystical. Communion, in my understanding, cannot be “just a symbol,” there more to it than simply stoking our memory of “what Jesus has done for me.”
- I am a Christian. I both get and don’t get the whole “Christ follower” thing. I understand the desire to say that we don’t agree with the dark parts of the Christian heritage (forced conversions, religious wars, the crusades, etc). Yet, I worry that by breaking with the language which binds us to the path we’re making the assumption that we couldn’t possibly do anything as evil at the things Christians have done in the past (this is the reason why I try not to make a big deal about not begin an Evangelical, I know all to well that type of temptation). I embrace the word Christian in a way that I can’t embrace Evangelical precisely because it forces me to be connected with people and actions I repudiate as being opposed to Christ and his Kingdom. Knowing, at the same time, that in generations to come other Christians will look at our contemporary Christianity and inevitably have to repudiate many of the things we do in Jesus’ name. So, I’m connected to the Crusades, Martin Luther’s anti-semitism, the violence between different sects of Christianity, the sex scandals of the Roman Catholic Church, and even the terrorist impulses of a Christian Fundamentalist in Norway. If fact, it’s precisely because I’m connected to all these things that I feel I can say, “This is not the way of Christ, in Jesus’ name, I repent.”
So, if what I’ve described above sounds like someone you want to follow, then follow away. If my points above got you angry or upset, then please don’t bother. I’m sure there’s a better use of your time out there somewhere.