The Best Thing About ‘American’ Christianity

Diversity For decades people have been prophesying about American Christianity’s demise. Church attendance is dropping, our culture is becoming increasingly immoral and the president is probably the Antichrist. Various pundits, experts and research groups have seemingly made a living predicting American Christianity’s downfall, and yet, while Christianity has become extinct in numerous parts of the world, it continues to live on—and sometimes thrive—within the United States….

There are faith communities for those who are conservative or liberal, egalitarian or complementarian, Calvinist or Armenian, traditional or modern, young or old, Norwegian or Cuban—you get the point. We often view are differences as a bad thing, as a sign of disunity and mistrust, but we serve as a sort of system of checks and balances. American Christianity is a beautiful patchwork of unique characteristics, all united in Christ, challenging each other, holding each other accountable and complementing our various strengths and weaknesses.

SOURCE: The Six Best Things About ‘American’ Christianity | Stephen Mattson.

I am a very strong believer that what makes the U.S. so unique is our diversity. Most of us celebrate our differences without attacking others who think differently than we do. I firmly believe that our ability to do just that is what make for our longevity as a democratic country. I am in awe of our founding fathers being able to create the framework to make that happen.

I celebrate diversity in most things but I have seemed to lack that facility when it comes to my spirituality. I have not been able to understand that it is also a strength when it comes to why we continue to be for the most part a nation aligned with Christian values while so many other countries are quickly falling away.

But I came to this game to have something to live/play, not something to offer/justify; to find the Teacher within, not teach others that they’re ignorant of the importance of an ideal; to belong with others united in comraderie, not divided by heritage or heredity. 

SOURCE: http://www.quakerquaker.org/profiles/blogs/the-quaker-game-of-life

Like my Quaker friend in the quote above come to this game play and not to justify my existence. I hope some of my words here are taken as teacher and not to just push my ideals on you.

Helping The Poor – Reason 2

2)      It’s Not a Sin to Be Poor In a culture obsessed with consumerism, money is seen as the ultimate form of power and success, but it’s not a sin to be poor. For Christians, especially middle-class Westernized believers, it’s easy to assume the worst of the poor. We blame them for not working, being lazy, having drug addictions, making poor choices, and not trying hard enough.

We often equate financial worth with personal value, and we place the poor in the lowest system of our preconceived (often subconscious) human caste systems.

We treat them accordingly—bad, and are continually blaming, humiliating, and shaming them through our condescending criticism, “instruction,” and judgment. We need to remember that being poor in and of itself isn’t a sin and doesn’t make a person less valuable in the eyes of God—if only Christians could realize this. SOURCE:

Stephen Mattson: 5 Reasons We Should Personally Help the Poor | Red Letter Christians.

This is the second post of five for reasons to help the poor as cited by Stephen Mattson.

I know the above comments are probably at the heart of many who have an ingrained prejudice against the poor. We blame them for things that at least partially are their own faults. We blame them for making poor choices that might have contributed to them being poor.

I, like many others evidently, was very turned off my Mr. Romney’s 47% comment. He basically said being poor was their own fault and we should let them stew in their own makings.  We Christians far too easily treat the poor as if their sins are somehow worse than ours and that therefore they don’t deserve grace from us or society at large.  Being firmly entrenched in the Quaker belief that there is the light of God in each and every one of us, I do my best to realize that being poor is not a sin and even if it were we should forgive that sin as God forgives ours.  After all isn’t the phrase “forgive us our sins as we forgive others” found in the Lord’s prayer applicable today as it was two thousand years ago.  It is about time we started living up to that pledge we recite so often.

To Be a Christian….

To be like Christ is to be a Christian  – 1718   William Penn’s last words  

Although I have never attended a meeting I feel quite close to the Society of Friends known as Quakers. They are so throughly grounded in “being” a Christian instead of just proclaiming a set of beliefs.  To see William Penn’s last words here it is obvious that he was a faithful Quaker.

Eternal Peace…


Several years ago I came across a small book entitled Quaker Spirituality – Selected Writings. I’m still not sure what made me pause on the title but I am glad I did. Inside that book was an essay by Thomas R. Kelly (1893-1941) talked about the “Eternal Presence”. I didn’t know it then but this essay put me on the path to learning much more about Quakers. It gave me the most complete understanding of who God was that I have ever had in my life up to that point.

Here are some of the words from that essay. I am just going to give you bits an pieces but enough to get its message across: The Quaker discovery and message has always been that God still lives and moves, works and guides, in vivid immediacy, within the hearts of men. For revelation is not static and complete, like a book, but dynamic and enlarging, as springing from life and Soul of all things. This light and Life is in all men, ready to sweep us into its floods, illumine us with its blinding, or with its gentle guiding radiance, send us tendered but strong into the world of need and pain and blindness. Surrender of self to that indwelling Life is entrance upon an astounding, and almost miraculous Life…..

We are men of double personalities. We have slumbering demons within us. We all have also a dimly-formed Christ within us. We’ve been too ready to say that the demonic man within us is the natural and real man, and that the Christ-man within us is unnatural and the unreal self but nothing could be further from the truth….

It is an amazing discovery, at first, to find that the creative Power and Life is at work in the world. God is no longer the object of belief; he is a Reality, who has continued, within each of us, his real presence in the world.

One of the most basic tenets of Quakerism is the “light of God is within each and every one of us”. It is up to us to show this light to the world of need, pain, and blindness and I might even add deafness.  It is up to each of us to show God within us.  It is an amazing discovery to understand that “WE” contain the real presence of God in this world. God is not some mythical bearded guy up there that decides who will go to heaven or who to punish with hell.  God is real; he is within each and every one of us.

This revelation changed everything in my attitudes.  No longer did I consider myself a miserable sinner who can do no good. I know I now have a small piece of the presence of God in this world. I am to do what he expects me to do. I am not a worthless piece of snot that I was taught growing up in church. I am instead the light of God in this world. When you accept that it fact everything changes. You are no longer living for yourself but now are living to show God’s love within you through your deeds and actions.

When I read the above words it was a sobering moment for me. It made me look upon the current religious establishment with a different view.  It was indeed a very inspiring little book for me.

Mr. President, Keep Your Promises!

Here is a letter from my Quaker friends at AFSC that I thought you might be interested in. If enough of us speak out we might just be able to force some of the politicians to actually do some of the things that they campaign on. 🙂

If you want to sign this petition click on this link   https://afsc.org