Growing Up LIberal II: The Swing Right

(My counterpoint to Philip Yancey’s “Growing Up Fundamentalist” - Part II)

As I thought about it, my upbringing in a Liberal Church taught me to be open, accepting and gracious, but left me lonely, empty and directionless.  That led me to an ecclesiastical adventure through the various shades of Christianity; from the fundamentalist to the radical and from the charismatic to the meditative.  Then over a decade later, I am asking myself again “what was I looking for?”

I remembered where I would be affirming (“you’re okay!”) but never got the same response.  So I ran back to what I thought was my safe place—my Liberal church.  But then an opposite twist to the conversation began to emerge:

“As Christians we should be open, accepting and gracious to
other people, religions and ideologies.”
“We should be willing to be open and learn from ________________
(insert other religion or ideology).”
“Of course!”
“We SHOULD BE LIKE them and ___________________
(insert discipline of other religion or ideology).”
“Uh…but that doesn’t make us virtually ___________________
(insert other religion or ideology)?”

Depending on who was talking, the pattern that would emerge was that while we were Liberal Christians we were becoming a “fundamentalist something else”—whether it is a Buddhist meditating, a Muslim in discipline or a Marxist in service and sacrifice.  And what I already know at that point was to be a fundamentalist of sorts was to assume you are right and others are wrong.  To adhere to a belief, worldview or a philosophy assumed that others who did not match those must be wrong in some ways and are in need of “fixing” (or converting, or indoctrinating, or evangelizing…whatever you call it).  And my realization was that I was on my way to becoming something else besides a being a Christian—which at that point, I was not even sure what it meant.

But something in me was screaming “I want to be a Christian!” and so launched me on a quest through the various shades of Christianity to figure it out.  And I started in the opposite end of the spectrum: the far right.  I went as “right” as far as I can go until they started looking at me as someone totally depraved because I had the wrong version of the Bible.

And so it begins…


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