Come July 2017, desert spirit's fire the blog will celebrate 15 years online; no surprise that over time this blog has changed. Starting out I posted mostly content I'd saved from online discussions; soon after that book reviews. Along the way I began other blogs: art/design; preservation project—about our built urban environment; Arizona travel; music; more theology. I've kept them all but publicly list only this blog and the four somewhat active ones on my sidebar. While still in Former City I began trying to write more openly about concerns in my own life; since relocating to Current City I've done some lifestyle posts and updated blog description to • Theology • Ecology • Liturgy • Life. However, the "life" stuff often retains a theological focus, whether it's my own testimony or more scripturally reflective.
Yes, let's get alone! A well-known ecclesiastical slogan or tagline reminds us:
In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity
I researched and discovered it came from "German Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century, Rupertus Meldenius ... [from a] ... tract on Christian unity written circa 1627 during the Thirty Years War (1618–1648)." You might appreciate the article I found on the Ligonier site. Nineteenth century church historian Philip Schaff called this concept "the watchword of Christian peacemakers." Can we make it a watchword for our families, our political exchanges, civic activities? Church conversations? The English language love-word charity derives from the Greek word for grace! Christians often remind each other that God's love is agape love, but even more so, how divinely-sourced is our behavior and attitude when it originates from the Divine impulse freely to grace all creation?
Some of the design freebies I get every week from creative market are useful for client projects, but many are so clearly in the style of that artist-designer I hesitate to use them anywhere, even though I have a legal license to do so. I got the tropical bouquet in my header image during 2016; it hints that we can look to a garden in bloom, an arrangement of colors, sizes, and shapes of flowers; fresh salad assembled from a dozen varied yet compatible ingredients as getting-along examples. Flowers, fruits, birds, mammals, and vegetation also remind us that certain geographical locations simply cannot support growing the same goods from the ground that others do. We can make an analogy to individuals or communities with particular needs or backgrounds that may do best with a style of government others might not prefer; some people might require interventions and help from government with some basic needs.
During the sixteenth century no social media circled cyberspace connecting people and ideas, but in terms only of the continental European Reformation, printed material got around town and between cities at a rapid rate, connecting people, connecting ideas, inciting excitement! People cared intensely about church, about God, about doctrine and salvation to such an extent some Christians cast aspersions on other Christians by issuing anathemas and condemnations! This year as we celebrate #Reformation500 and #Luther500 (Katie Luther is my #homegirl) with a true sense of the liberty (or freedom—sometimes a slight difference in connotation), most followers of Christ rejoice and commend rather than condemn denominational and theological distinctives that make the Church of Jesus Christ much richer than it otherwise would be. Certain emphases and styles appeal to people's unique personalities and perspectives. Over the past four decades, historically unprecedented agreement and unity on essentials, across-the-board agreement to have liberty in non-essentials, an astonishing grace-motivated charity has gone down among churches of the protestant mainline that in this country have been in earnest dialogue for over four decades, and even between some Protestant traditions and the Roman Catholic Church. They say religion and politics are the two topics to avoid in civil conversation, but if churches can do it, how about politicians? To be human is to be political, to care about how structure and decisions, leaders and possibilities affect me and my family, my neighborhood and my friends.
God became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth amidst a particular culture – you could call it a lifestyle – in measurable geography and history; his daily human life wore and carried the signs and marks of where, when, and how he lived. Besides embodying Jesus Christ, church traditions also reflect and sometimes rock the time and place of their origin. You still can recognize the nineteenth century American frontier in denominations such as Christian Church-Disciples of Christ and Latter-day Saints that came out of nineteenth century Restoration movements. One can find congregations in the Reformed tradition that allow only psalms as hymnody; architecture and appointments of worship spaces designed by Lutherans of Scandinavian heritage usually are plain, clean, and spare; Roman Catholics of Italian and Latin heritage tend toward the ornate. You get the idea!
Haven't you found starting at the micro level between individuals, telling your stories to each other, works best? Talk to each other! Tell your own stories and your family's stories; listen to mine. Let's get along! You may find out your neighbor voted for the other candidate because of neighbor's experience and needs. You still may prefer your candidate or your way of assembling a salad or arranging flowers, but with charitable grace, you still can agree to disagree.