From the Bathroom Theologian: Do you know any truly evil people? History has taught us that they exist. They have caused wars, destruction, and the deaths of millions upon millions of people. But as you sit in church on Sunday morning, look to your left and look to your right. Then look behind you and look in front of you. Do you see anyone evil?
You see people you know…maybe not bosom buddies, but you know who they are. You know about their families. You know what they do for a living. Through the grapevine you probably know a little about their “troubles.” All people have “troubles.” You chat with them in the back of the church before Mass. Chat in the aisles midway through Mass. And share the Communion Table with them as we participate in God’s great Sacrament. They are good people…just like you are good people.
Then why would anyone allow a difference of opinion relating to national, state, or local political policy make one think that a person is evil or somehow less a person? We don’t have to agree on 100% of everything to be friends. We don’t have to agree on much of anything to be friends…because we are all good people.
I am often asked how a rock-ribbed conservative like me gets a long in one of the most liberal progressive liturgical churches in the country. I go to the national church website, and its policy pronouncements are at complete odds with my own personal belief system. We differ profoundly on how national issues are handled in the secular arena…and how they should be handled within the church. Even the sermons on Sunday can be challenging. Popular vernacular uses the phrase “trigger words.” Conservatives are also sensitive to certain words that trigger a visceral reaction within them.
Sometimes when I hear an overtly liberal sermon, I walk away from it and say…what a great sermon!!! Why? Because I know the person delivering the sermon is good people. I know that he/she has the best of intentions in his/her belief system. Believe it or not, most of time I agree in one way or the other with the sermon because 99% of the time we share a common goal based on human caring, love, and a firm belief about what life should be. We might choose a different path; emphasize a different approach. We may lay out different rules. We may even differ on who can achieve salvation. But we are all good people. We all want a better world under the guiding eye of God.
I am not so presumptuous to believe I know all the answers. More likely than not I know none of the answers. In God's magnificent universe of infinite time and space...how can my puny brain begin to comprehend the correct questions let alone the correct answers? God's word will always mean different things to different people. Good people might not be able figure it out...but good people must try together notwithstanding our differences.
The personal relationships we build in church are important. The relationships to God we build in church are important. We don’t have to leave our political opinions at the door. But we also have to bring into church the basic belief that we are all good people who want good things for our church, our community, our state, our nation, our world. Respect for everyone's views and/or beliefs is paramount.
At the end of the day, it is God’s world. We are only short-term tenants. We should celebrate our differences. Celebrate our commonality. Celebrate the great brotherhood… and sisterhood…and people-hood...of God. Mark M.