i have no need for anger with intimate strangers

i did a lot of traveling this summer. a lot. and when you’re on the road (or in the air) as much as i was, you talk to people–people you know, people you don’t. and you never know who you’ll meet or where the conversation will go.

i went to kyiv, ukraine on a mission trip with a group from my church. we spent a week at the ark, half the team doing construction work, the other half spending time with the 24 children currently living there. i was with a group of people, most of whom i did not know before this trip, nor did they know me.

we boarded the big plane (the flight to munich where we would connect to kyiv) in charlotte and were not the only group going to ukraine to do “mission work.” i (and part of my group) was seated next to a woman (alyson) from the “brown shirt group” (one of the other groups had on brown t-shirts as they traveled as a team), and across the aisle was the team leader for that group, named ted.

well, we all get to talking: who are you, where are you from, what are you going to do while you’re in ukraine and the like. alyson, upon learning we were from raleigh, asked later on if i’d attended the greg laurie event that was at the rbc center earlier in the summer. “noooooo. i was actually out of town while that was going on” (shit, it’s gonna be a long flight) and sure enough, the conversation among the brown shirts was along the more conservative, evangelical line. i didn’t say much; i didn’t really even pay that much attention to the conversation all the time. until.

ted finally made the comment that there was a group of christians who’d recently published a new version of the bible that referred to God in gender-neutral language.
“can you believe that?” he said.
“actually,” i answered, “i’m glad someone’s finally done that.”
after ted recovered from that apparently heretical statement he asked, “why?”
“because God is BOTH masculine AND feminine and to deny the feminine aspect of God denies part of who God is. at the same time, God transcends gender.”
“but Jesus referred to God as Father.”
“and Jesus was operating within a patriarchal society”
“but we’re all created in the image of God”
“we are. and just as you and i have both masculine and feminine parts to ourselves, so does God. otherwise, how could i, as a woman, authentically relate to God?”
“oh. so you’re one of those.”
“yes, i am.” (i didn’t bother to ask which one of those…i was just happy to be able to say this is who i am)
“well let me ask you this… (i’m sure you can guess which topic was coming up next…) do you think the church should ordain homosexuals?”
“i think the church should ordain anyone who’s been called by God” (i wasn’t thinking fast enough or i would have said that we don’t need to ordain anyone because if you’ve been called by God…hell, if you’ve been baptized…you’ve been ordained)
so then he moved on to another, more typically “evangelical” question and i just stopped trying to give my viewpoint because it wasn’t going to get us anywhere. and ted didn’t say anything else to me for the rest of the flight.

what i hate most about that type of situation is the fact that i come away feeling like i’m wrong for thinking/believing the way that i do…like it’s wrong to be “one of those


3 thoughts on “i have no need for anger with intimate strangers

  1. i might have experienced the baptist excommunication. oddly enough, while in kyiv on the trip, we all (my group, not the other) went out to dinner one night and several of us did enjoy some nonsanctioned beverages.

  2. wow mary,

    I just have to say that i really like your answers to the questions.

    Good grief, why are people so damn anal about religion? I know a certain psychologist that would say these people never developed out of that stage.

    i really know what you mean though. It’s funny with what happened to me at OCBC that not only do people are ALLOWED to think i did something wrong, i sometimes feel like i DID do something wrong. what’s ironic about that is that alison was on their website the other night (and after the pastor’s blog all about THE core values of Christianity believing EXACTLY what he believes (infallible and such (u know the routine)and found the CHURCH’S core values:

    We Believe in…

    1. Biblical Centered Preaching & Teaching

    2. Praise & Worship

    3. Godly Servant Leadership

    4. World Missions

    5. Christian Education

    6. Welcoming Guest

    7. Prayer

    8. Building Strong Families

    9. Discipleship

    10. God’s Love For All People

    Here, i’ve been feeling like i’ve done something wrong, but i was the ONLY one that was working on all 10 “core values” of the church. ESP. # 10!!!! not the pastor, not the guy who started this mess, not the families that participated in my departure! I guess our belief of humility above piety is why we can walk away from something like your experience and still feel like we were in the wrong!

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