A critical examination of the past, particularly a hard, honest look, at one’s life, family, and relationships with various institutions can be a mixed bag, especially if one has experienced a significant amount of abuse, neglect, rejection, etc. It’s can be a mixed bag because even in the midst of abuse or mistreatment there are generally examples of love, care, support, or acts of kindness by those who may have been abusive or neglectful. Imo, self awareness of one’s past is potentially a good thing…but…it can also result in temporary or sometimes long term rejection of those individuals or institutions who may have been abusive at times. I have no desire to suggest or judge how people deal with their past but simply to point out that a critical examination of one’s past will generally lead to a growing self awareness that may potentially lead to a significant amount of cognitive dissonance and or rejection of one’s past…
For many people religion and our relationship with a religious community is a very important aspect of our lives and thus effect us on a very deep and profound level…..and….for many, if not the majority, our experiences with our religious community may swing back and forth between the positive and the negative…but…. for some…ones past experiences with the Christian subculture may now, in hindsight, border on the abusive, manipulative, and even cultish…..and thus…..one may understandably be tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater or chuck religion altogether. I suspect for most of us the experiences with our religious past may not be so extreme so we may just become critical to the point where it either rubs people the wrong way or creates questions of doubts about our standing with God and the Christian community with our fellow brethren.
Over the years I have done my fair share of criticizing this or that regarding my Christian past and, the Christian subculture in general, but today I want to acknowledge and pay tribute to some of the positive contributions of my religious past. I came up with the idea for this tribute while teaching one of my classes earlier this week. While I was teaching I was reminded how my teaching style and the fact that I was a teacher to begin with was predominantly and positively influenced by the Christian subculture.....In an effort to not sound too long winded I'll limit my acknowledgements to the major influences. Here is my Cliff note version the people, communities, and authors who I am forever indebted for positively influencing my life.....
Beulah Nash: For, taking me under her wing when I first became a Christian….and….for her generous hospitality.
The Charismatic movement: For, modeling that "experience" is an important part of our lives and a legitimate and equal partner with science, reason, and logic....and....I don't need to suppress my feelings. It's o.k., to have feelings, even the dark emotions.
Maranatha music industry, Keith Green, Phil Keaggy, and the Second Chapter of Acts: For, revolutionizing the Christian music subculture and providing millions of young Christians with something relevant to listen to.
Dan Bushy and Glenn Calkins: For, being such great Christian friends. I wish I knew where you guys were today.
Francis Schaeffer: For, teaching me that "all" of life is spiritual and rescuing me from the world of religious dualism....and....opening a window to the world of art, culture, philosophy, environmental issues, and classical music at a time when I took great pride in being a cultural barbarian.
Franky Schaeffer: For, risking his career and reputation by engaging the culture, on it's terms, at a time when most evangelicals were steeped in a pietism that made them culturally irrelevant...and...for later following his conscious to become Eastern Orthodox which took alot of guts.
Susan Schaeffer Macaulay: For, inspiring me to become a teacher and introducing me to the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason who influenced my teaching style and methodology.
Jacques Ellul: For, opening the door to the dialectic method of thinking which helped provide a critical corrective to my black/white, either, or, thinking….and….for stimulating my thinking in regards to the role of technology, pacifism, and neo-orthodoxy.
Vernard Eller and the Christian Anarchist community: For, helping break the bonds of my political and theological leaning ideology.
C.T. McIntire Jr., George Marsden, Herbert Butterfield, and The Christian Institute of
Calvin College: For, producing professors and writers who stimulated my thinking for almost ten years on the relationship between culture and Christianity…and….teaching me that Christianity could make important positive contributions on such topics as science, pop culture, technology, war, the environment, music, literature, etc.
Barry Lily and Al Wilson: For, accepting me and not judging me during some of the darkest days of my life.
Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan: For, helping me understand and accept that one can maintain the “essence” of the Christian faith without agreeing or accepting all of the particulars…and…for modeling a spirit of religious tolerance.
Pomoxian, Faithmaps, and other Christian Postmodern leaning discussion groups: For, providing a safe place to interact with others while continuing learning…and…for, probably helping prevent me from throwing out the baby with the bath water in regards to my faith…..And thanks to all of those people and communities that also made positive contributions but were not mentioned due to limits on time and space.