Back in the day, the late great comedian Robin Harris (may he rest in peace) had a routine about BeBe’s (pronounced Bay-Bay)kids. BeBe’s kids were/are the kids that everybody wants to avoid, but nobody can. Hence the slogan…”We BeBe’s kids; we don’t die, we multiply.”
So on Sunday, Ross Douthat–columnist for the New York Times–asks the question “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?” At first I thought it was a silly question that deserved the most curt “Yes” that could be given. The response to the article though, has made me rethink.
Liberal/Progressive Christians seem to always be anxious; worried that somehow they are losing the battle about what Christianity is about/for. I think that has to stop; worry/worrying gets nobody nowhere.
Conservative/Non-Progressive Christians on the other hand, seem to be overconfident; entangling themselves with powers and principalities in ways that makes it hard to know when the state stops and when the church/religion begins.
This, my friends, is the problem; American Christians too often confuse liberal and conservative politics with liberal and conservative religion (conservatives do too, this post just happens to be about the liberal side of the coin). As long as Liberal Christians continue to allow the definition of liberal or conservative to be framed ONLY by how one comes out on a small set of social/political issues, the anxiousness will never change.
Here’s a little secret though. No matter how much today’s liberal Christians might bungle it, Liberal Christianity is like BeBe’s kids; it doesn’t die, it multiplies. But the only way to notice it is to look outside of your little sphere.
Liberal Christianity is more than just Borg, Spong, Erhman, Butler Bass and Brown Taylor. How many liberal Christians have read Monica Coleman’s “Making A Way Out Of No Way”? M. Shawn Copeland’s “Enfleshing Freedom”? Rita Nakashima Brock’s “Journeys By Heart”? (which was written before she was writing books with Rebecca Parker) Or even Shane Claiborne’s “Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals”?
Liberal Christianity is EVERYWHERE!! It just looks different from the WASP forms of the 1950s/1960s/1970s. Liberal Christianity is Rev. Don Robinson and his work at Beacon House in Southeast D.C. Liberal Christianity is Rev. Ron Robinson and his work in Turley-North Tulsa with A Third Place. Liberal Christianity is the modern monastic movement. Heck, Liberal Christianity is the old monastic movement.
Liberal Christianity is anyplace that preaches that love ALWAYS wins. Love conquers all.
Liberal Christianity is anyplace that preaches a gospel that increases the love, peace, joy, mercy, grace and beauty in the world and says that it is available to all.
Liberal Christianity doesn’t need to be saved. BeBe’s kids never need to be saved. They don’t die, they multiply.