27 June 2024

The long defeat, part two

The Convocation Unscripted S1E3. Screenshot from source.
Top: Robert Jones, Diana Butler Bass.
Bottom: Kristin Du Mez, Jemar Tisby.

Last week, in part one, I was thinking about how to pray honestly when considering the "butcher's bench" of history and the persistence of sin—by which I mostly mean the ways we mistreat each other and Creation generally.

Concerning that persistence, I linked to Kristin Du Mez's blog post in which she mentioned Tolkien's "long defeat" as quoted by one of the ministers at her church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She went on say how important it is, in our service on behalf of justice and truth, not to grow dependent on victorious outcomes.

Last week Du Mez published another post, "Peace where there is no peace," with what struck me as a case study for not depending on victorious outcomes—and the case was one which I immediately identified with. Here's a clue from the title of the podcast episode embedded in her post: "When Your Religion Cancels You."

(The podcast, The Convocation Unscripted, features conversations among three historians and one sociologist, all of whom "write about religion and its intersection with culture, history, and politics in America"—Diana Butler Bass, Kristin Du Mez, Robert P. Jones, and Jemar Tisby.)

Kristen Du Mez's denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, is tightening up its discipline regarding churches (and possibly faculty members of its associated educational institutions, such as Du Mez's Calvin University) who dissent from the church's "confessional" teachings on sexuality and marriage. For a brief and seemingly evenhanded summary of the situation, see this Religion News Service article.

Going back to Du Mez's newer post, written shortly before the Synod meeting described in the RNS article:

When your Religion Cancels You.

That was the topic selected for our second podcast episode over at The Convocation: Unscripted. Little did my fellow podcasters know, that’s a sensitive topic for me this week. As I write, my denomination is dictating the terms that will require my home church and many others to leave the denomination over a new interpretation of what is now deemed “confessional,” one that requires condemnation of same-sex relationships.

In terms of getting “cancelled,” my case isn’t like many others’ in that I’m staying with my congregation. We’re all leaving together, along with many other congregations in the US and Canada. Still, it’s a lot to process.

I shared just a bit here [in the podcast], and you can hear Robby, Jemar, and Diana talk about their own experiences leaving the faith communities they once called home. I’m guessing that many of you may find points of connection.

So, dear Friends ... when did "our religion" cancel us? Here's the blog post from 2017 that sums up the story from my personal point of view—our involuntary separation from a body of believers that I loved and appreciated, Northwest Yearly Meeting. One similarity to the process being experienced by the Christian Reformed Church and ours, is the length of time the process of enforcement is taking. In each case, it feels like an experience of the long defeat. Each time our little band of exiles meets, we do get a "some glimpse of final victory," but my heart aches for what might have been.

I'm going to stop here. I don't want to reduce the amount of time you might spend checking some of the links and videos above, particularly the Kristin Du Mez post.

Kent Hendricks: Observations on patterns of division and departure in the Christian Reformed Church. It makes for an interesting comparison with what we experienced in Northwest Yearly Meeting.

Still more sobering reading, this time on Russia and Ukraine. Both of the next two items are from the Meduza service: 

First, Dmitry Kartsev interviews Jonathan Littell, author of the book An Inconvenient Place (with photographer Antoine d'Agata), reckoning with Nazi and Russian atrocities in Ukraine "from Babi Yar to Bucha." The book is available in French and Russian now, and an English-language edition is scheduled for publication in September.

Second, an interview (Russian original; machine-translated English) with Tatiana Kasatkina, wife of imprisoned human rights activist Oleg Orlov, former co-chair of the now-liquidated Memorial organization. 

Adapted from source.
"You are safe with ..." chaplain Greg Morgan.

The Internet Archive (on which I depend constantly!) is forced to delete half a million books from its online library; 19,000 supporters write an open letter to publishers.

Starliner continues to provide suspense. (See earlier post on Rocket science.)

Faith, hope, and love—Nancy Thomas's companions on a journey through time.

Has your church ... or a church you're curious about ... had a visit from a Mystery Worshipper?

Spanish bluesman Quique Gomez and Ukrainian bluesman Konstantin Kolesnichenko in Dnipro, 2019.


Daniel Wilcox said...

VERY weird and desparing though, Kristin Du Mez's denomination, the Christian Reformed are Hard Calvinists, claiming with Calvin that before Creation, God foreordained the vast majority of humans such as myself, my family, my friends, and billions of other humans to Eternal Torture forever!:_((((

Heck, I've attended her denomination and spent many years opposing such horrendously evil beliefs.
Maybe, you don't know, that is the Central Reason I came to the Friends-Quakers in 1967 in Philadelphia to escape the 5 Points of Reformed beliefs. As a public high school teacher I had to teach those Puritan beliefs because most of Americans in the Colonies and after were strong believers in that hard Christdian determinism. I used to teach Jonathan Edwards, Stonewall Jackson, and have read the most famous American Calvinists including R. L. Dabney!
I hafe spent 60 years opposing such religion. IF you remember both George Fox and other early Quakers and John Wesley and his followers specifically rejected the God of the Christian Reformed as an "almighty tyrant"! Wesley even stated he would rather be an "atheist" than believe such immoral and unjust beliefs.
How can Kristen Du Mez possibly believe any of that?
She stated on Twitter that she is a "Calvinist."
I've read some of her articles, including some good ones against white evangelical nationalism.

Johan Maurer said...

On a visit to Calvin University, I stopped into their bookstore, and was intrigued to see the book Why I Am Not a Calvinist on sale. (The book had been published the previous year.)

I see very little wiggle room for theological dissidents in the Faculty Expectations document, which may help explain some of the apprehensions in Du Mez's post.... But I don't know how she or other faculty members at Calvin deal with the specific theological expectations that are tied to (for example) the Canons of Dort. For some points of disagreement, Calvin faculty are allowed to file statements of disagreement, but I think that functionally allows only for a reprieve.

As for me, by CRC's confessional standards, I'm a heretic, but no more so than Robert Barclay, whom I consider good company!

Daniel Wilcox said...

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Johan. Yes, tragically, I've read the Canons of Dort, etc., and how they were the basis for the slaughter of many by the Reformed leaders who who wrote that determinism and many others.
And, like you, I am so thankful for leaders including Barclay, who besides Fox, etc. strongly opposed Reformed views of God.