Friday, September 15, 2006

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… 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 Genesis Bible College Community: For, introducing me to interesting books to read which contributed to my becoming a life long learner and reader...and...for, rescuing me from an extreme Christian legalistic community.

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 Toronto: For, shaping how I understand and critically interpret history.

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.

Stanley Grenz and Brian Mclaren: For, helping to affirm that my subconscious postmodern leanings were not simply the imagination of someone who had finally gone over the edge.

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.


Dave said...

That's an impressive piece of work, Bilbo... quite an inventory of the significant influences that have shaped your spirituality and view of life over the past few decades! I want to read and re-read it more carefully before I comment further - I'm kind of doing a quick "drive-by" catch-up on my emails, favorite blogs, sports scores, news headlines, etc. so I hope you understand! But wanted to send you a note of appreciation and encouragement for offering this review to us.

julieunplugged said...

I really enjoyed this list! I am a huge Charlotte Mason fan through Susan Schaeffer MacAulay's book too. I used to be a part of a group that taught her educational philosophy to home educators. We did monthly seminars and even several conferences. Cool to think of you adopting some of her philosophy in the public schools.

I agreed with your Phil Keaggy, Keith Green and 2nd Chapter of Acts too. I loved all three of those. Saw Keith Green and Phil Keaggy in concert and was deeply moved by both experiences. Keith Green was a man after my own heart - his commitment and energy, his willingness to lay his life on the line for what he believed to be true. I always liked it about him.

I, too, credit our St. Francis Schaeffer with helping me to see that all of life is spiritual at a formative period in my Crusade years. Thank God for that!

Charismatics = experience. YES!

You did a great job of capturing the key insights of these moves, even when some of the philosophy was unhelpful. I appreciate that.


Bilbo said...

Hi Dave and Julie,

I just wanted to give credit where credit is due regarding my past. Sometimes we can become overly critical or cynical about our past which in turn alienates alot of folks and closes the door to further or deeper communication. I feel this has happened to some degree with a number of our fellow cyberspace religious companions on the discussion group why I also posted this blog entry on pomoxian.