PB has a great post where she writes about a peice of internet glurge she got, "What makes this an eye-roller to most people I know, however, is not the theology (break it down and it's just like yours and mine: Every human being possesses inherent worth and dignity, if God is present in the world, it is through the work of human hands, people are to be cherished more than things, etc.), but the sentimentality of the writing, the inclusion of angels, the effusive praise of God's grace, the misplaced quotation marks, the misuse of the word "literally," and the fact that this woman actually took her child to McDonald's for breakfast. How often do we conflate pure class snottiness with theological superiority and sophistication? How often does it close our ears and keep us from spiritual solidarity with others?"
I don't know. I have an orthodox Catholic friend who is as committed a church member as I am. When we talk about surface stuff, such as sunday school, jumble sales and potlucks, we get each other. When we talk about the really important stuff, we have some disagreements (that some Christians can read the bible and not come away with the message that it's our duty to take care of the poor mystifes me, but one sees such people all the time, ask Joel Hunter,) but mostly get each other.
But it's the issues in the middle where we feel so different.
One time I said something about not going to church to be told what to believe.
"You don't?" He said, and I almost thought there was an implied 'why else would you go?' in his tone.
I've had a Mormon very seriously ask me why I didn't run around doing evil all the time since I had told her I honestly don't believe that God is lying in wait at the end of my life to punish me for my sins. A friend's mother is very concerned that if her granddaughter should die in a car accident tomorrow, she will go to hell because my friend hasn't taken her to church.
Another Christian once told me that she didn't mind torture because it saved the lives of soldiers like her husband. I asked her if she was sure her husband's life was worth so much more than an Iraqi woman's husband's life and the question seemed to flat out amaze her. Her husband was a Christian. He was saved. He was on God's side in this war. Duh?
All of these times, I felt a huge gulf opening up between the person I was talking to and me. (OK, except when I felt the gulf between the friend's Mom and me as I heard that story secondhand.) It felt like a theological gulf rather than a cultural one, but I'm willing to be talked another way on the issue. Actually I'd LOVE to believe that greater solidarity does exist but is getting lost in translation. It's a far more optimistic vision.
OK, Chalicesseurs, what do y'all think? Are we missing that the message is roughly the same because of cultural differences? Or do the differences run much deeper than that?