Blog Roundup – February
This month I posed an important question to our young writers: what do you expect from the leaders of your religious and non-religious traditions? We featured their responses, some of which, like Aamir Hussain’s, were my favorite blogs this month.
The question got me thinking as well, particularly since this month saw leaders of my own religious community, the Christian Church, enter the news in ways that left me angry and discouraged rather than hopeful.
To judge from the newspapers this month, leaders of my religious community are more concerned with women’s bodies (funny enough, most of the leaders in question happen to be male) than with social justice. To judge by discussions of faith coming from presidential candidates like Rick Santorum, the greatest moral problems facing this country aren’t poverty or hunger, but rather the possibility that college encourages students to renounce Christianity in favor of secularism.
These news stories provoke a variety of responses (for one thing, if my mind blithely and uncritically accepted secularist “indoctrination,” was it really robust enough to genuinely believe in Christ in the first place?), but mostly I just get mad.
I want radically different responses from church leaders than what I heard in the news this month. Like Peter Dziedzic, I want leaders of my Christian religious community to focus on the heart of the Gospel—the hungry, the naked, the sick, the dying, the “least of these” with whom Jesus identifies in Matthew 25—rather than peripheral social issues. I want a church that embraces rather than eschews critical thinking, one that challenges prevailing stereotypes and facilitates the “Pal Al” relationships that Usra Ghazi discusses.
But most of my demands are on me. I don’t want to be angry and snarky. As fun as ranting is, it’s rarely productive. I need to stop bashing the Rick Santorums of the world and start asking myself, how can I love them? How can I reach out to and work with them to build God’s Kingdom on this earth, even though our theological priorities are worlds apart? Looks like I need my own conservative Christian “Pal Al.”
As we continue to hear about young people’s expectations for their religious and ethical leaders, I invite you to discern where you fit in. How can you build the world you want to see?
“Speaking Up” by Aamir Hussain
“Twenty-first Century Catholic Leaders” by Peter Dziedzic
“Discovering Pal Al” by Usra Ghazi
This month we premiered a new collaboration with State of Formation, an online journal whose religious and secular bloggers will be responding to our own young writers. Join the conversation and let us know what you think on our Facebook page. The content of this blog reflects the views of its authors exclusively.