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I assume that Jesus understands us better than we understand him. At least I hope that’s true. Otherwise, . . . well, I’d rather not think about it.

Still, I imagine sometimes that even Jesus picks up the phone after watching his super HD TV, dialed in on Fox or the Chinese equivalent for state-supported “news.” Dialing 4-6-3 (G O D), I over-hear this:

“Yo, Dad, how goes it? Say, have you been watching channel 3845? (E V I L)


“Well, let me tell you and maybe you can explain why. . . .”

I figure a lot of stuff down here just befuddles even Jesus.

I read the other day that Marko Rubio was a Catholic but went to a Baptist church most of the time. That seems weird. Then I read that the NOM’s (National Organization for Marriage) main man, Brian Brown, is a former Quaker turned Catholic. That seems even weirder.

I noted, when I was a frequenter of Catholic Answers Forum, that some of the most vociferous “orthodox” types were former Baptists and Seven-Day Adventists. Now converts are more orthodox than the mainstream, that’s clear, but this goes beyond being orthodox, this goes to a self-righteously expressed proclamation against the poor, gays, women, and other marginalized groups.  I daresay most of them don’t like the Catholic position regarding immigration one bit. They are for war and for the death penalty. They consider social justice issues the heresy of the modernist lefty Cafeteria Catholic.

The only difference between themselves and the self-styled unchurched interpreter of “what the bible says,” is that  these Catholics mine the bible and encyclicals and Vatican documents for sentences and paragraphs to justify their arguments.

Frankly, what we find is that the right-wing of the Roman Church is most simpatico with the general home of fundamentalists–Southern Baptists. It seems that those who are “teaching” these new converts turn a blind eye mostly to their propensity to embrace biblical literalism and a failure to embrace things like universal health care, global warming, and even evolution. It seems more, that anyone who will sign on the dotted line, is okay. Just don’t ask too many questions.

I don’t know how other denominations are doing with this. I know the The Episcopal Church has been painfully working through a growing split between the left and right. And Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Methodists all have, are, or will be, doing the same.

The truth is, that most members in all these denominations are moderates. Most that leave their churches do so for no church, or another,  because they are tired of the warring they see.

I frequent NCR a lot, and read a significant number of the articles there. The comments are always the same, mostly supportive of the article or writer, but always with a few who warn of dire consequences if we continue to listen to voices of the progressive left. The Church is either on the perfectly right track and needs to go further, or is dangerously off track and in need of a rescue if it is to survive.

Indeed, many on the far right of the Roman church openly wish that we progressives would leave, even if it means that their church is drastically reduced in numbers. Is this true of other denominations? I have no clue. But I wonder.

Is it the right who cannot stomach “others” in their midst because it makes them uncomfortable in their well-ordered theology? Or is it the left that finds the right an unacceptable drag on the business of getting on with the Kingdom’s agenda of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned? It’s hard to know.

Are there as many “new” conservative churches as there are “new” Catholic denominations. or new Methodists? Are well equally running away from each other?

If we are, they we are both to blame. This hardly comports with “loving neighbor” as Jesus for saw it. I mean Jesus scandalized his world by consistently eating and drinking with all the “wrong” people, all the “others” of his land.

It seems to me that it’s not supposed to be easy. If it were, humans would have realized the efficacy of it long ago and done it. It’s hard to work with those who continually threaten to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Ask any congress person and they will be happy to tell you about gridlock.

Compromise forces us to release our own desires and focus on incremental progress as being marginally better than no progress at all. Not something to throw a party about, but something to feel some satisfaction about.

Are there those in your congregations whom you find embarrassing for their views? How do you deal with them? I know that these Catholics whose political and social views I frankly abhor, are most difficult for me to embrace even in prayer.

 I frankly cringe when I read that some awful hatemongering right-winger like Bill Donahue or Brian Brown is a Catholic. They model Catholicism to an unknowing spectrum of America and the world. A lousy model, but a model nonetheless.

Do you find some “spokespeople” in your faith tradition embarrassing? Do they make you cringe? If you don’t, then need you ask if you are in a tradition that has become lazily easy for you? Is that bad?

I think Jesus wants to know what we think. Have you talked to him lately? I think he wonders about us, and perhaps it means we should wonder about ourselves.