Benjamin L. Corey on Christian “Ghosting”

Those of you who are not millennials or otherwise well-versed in the ways in which millennials express themselves via texting/social media have probably never heard the term “ghosting” with respect to interpersonal relationships.  But you can get an idea what it means:  To vanish like a ghost, suddenly and inexplicably, from another person’s life.

As noted in the previous post, today’s political/religious climate demands 100% agreement with every item of your respective party’s ideological platform because there are numerous special interests out there to enforce this and ensure that you feel the consequences if you dare to deviate.  In many parts of conservative evangelicalism, one of the consequences is “ghosting”.  This has been perfected to an art, long before ghosting ever became a thing in the broader culture or took on that name.  If you dare to deviate from your faith community’s party line on whatever issues are deemed to be of paramount importance (like gay marriage, abortion, or women in church leadership), it is not unheard of for close friends to cut off contact with you and vanish like ghosts from your life.  Some of you probably have stories to tell about this.

Today we are going to look at Benjamin L. Corey’s story.  Corey blogs at Formerly Fundie.  Corey was “ghosted” by his best friend and the Christian community of which they were a part.  It was a conservative, fundamentalist church community and Corey had begun to shift toward some positions which were at variance with the community’s ideology.  They couldn’t handle it, so they left him, and of course he was left having to deal with it himself and explain it all to his children.

For those of us who have tried to live out the Christian life while being open to allowing new information to shape and stretch what we believe, the reality is that at one time or another, we have friends who will ghost us.

Somehow, someway, too many Christian circles have failed to realize that we don’t have to be in complete agreement to be in a complete relationship.

And so, when theological agreement is not in harmony, there’s always at least one family who feels like some evil magician made their life disappear without notice or even a preemptive “abracadabra” to give us a bit of warning that life is about to change.

While we can’t control the actions of others, I do think we can do two things:

We can refuse to be the ones who do the ghosting.

And when it happens, we can practice praying, “Forgive them Father, for they don’t have the slightest effing’ clue as to the damage they’ve done.”

Read:  Christian Ghosting: The Destructive Christian Practice We Don’t Talk About by Benjamin L. Corey

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Charles Featherstone: Church, Flagellate Thyself

Today I direct your attention to a piece by Charles Featherstone entitled “Church, Flagellate Thyself“.

One of the recurring themes in Featherstone’s writing is community and belonging.  In this piece he focuses on progressive Christianity (because that is the universe in which he lives) and the implicit assumption of many liberal churches, specifically Episcopal and Lutheran, that anyone with an ounce of sense would want to be part of their churches and if people don’t it is only because they have excluded them or failed to welcome them.  He cites the example of an Episcopal church where a conversation about adding a wheelchair ramp morphed into an outpouring of self-reproach for all the sins of white Christendom down through the ages.

Reality check:  Not everyone is called to be an Episcopalian or a Lutheran.  These churches can be as welcoming as they possibly can, and it still won’t alter the fact that not everyone has it in them to be an Episcopalian or a Lutheran.

Reality check, on a more fundamental level:  Not everyone has it in them to live the respectable bourgeois dream.  Believe it or not, some people live out on the margins of society because they actually want to be there.  It is where they feel safe.  It is where they feel like they actually belong.

The truth is, there are many reasons people do not want to be ELCA Lutherans that have absolutely nothing to do Lutherans failing to be welcoming or inclusive. It’s not necessarily about us. Even if we say we get the gospel right, in the end, people make choices for reasons that honestly have nothing to do with us.

Maybe some folks live on a margin because that’s where they feel comfortable, safe, and welcome. Because that’s where they know they belong. Margins should be safe, and not abolished.

Liberalism and progressivism, however, in its many forms, cannot abide marginality. And it cannot abide separateness either. All must belong to the one true community. Eventually, the progressive reaches for the cudgel. To force others if it can.

And if it can’t, to scourge itself.

Read:  Church, Flagellate Thyself by Charles Featherstone