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diagnosing and treating 
CRIS* in yourself and others 
(conflicted religious identity syndrome)
new epidemics often go 
unnoticed until a high-profile 
figure is stricken. 
2
George mason university 1
George mason university 1
2010
Anne has concluded that she will never 
truly belong to the “quarrelsome, hostile, 
disputatious, and deservedly infamous 
group” known as Christians unless she 
becomes “anti-gay … anti-feminist … 
anti–artificial birth control … anti- 
Democrat … anti–secular humanism … 
anti-science … anti-life.”
Tell that much of the story, and you have the 
sort of thing the news media love to report— 
another celebrity break-up, if you will. But this 
time, the celebrity is divorcing God. 
But that’s not the whole story. Really, it’s not 
the story at all. Anne explains that, “My faith in 
Christ is central to my life.” She is still “an 
optimistic believer in a universe created and 
sustained by a loving God.” “But,” she says, 
“following Christ does not mean following His 
followers. Christ is infinitely more important 
than Christianity and always will be, no matter 
what Christianity is, has been or might become.”
And so, she concludes, “In the name of 
Christ… I quit Christianity and being 
Christian.”
Just this week, Israeli intellectual 
Shlomo Sand ... “I resign from being 
Jewish.”
George mason university 1
Last Fall: 
a graduate of an 
Evangelical 
Christian college
Last Fall: 
“We’re dropping 
out because we 
don’t want to 
belong to a 
religion that 
requires us to be 
hostile.”
Today: how many of 
us? 
Tomorrow: same? 
worse? better?
Do you have 
CRIS? 
Conflicted 
Religious 
Identity 
Syndrome
SELF-MEDICATION: ADJECTIVES 
__conservative ___liberal 
___Evangelical ___progressive 
___emergent ___moderate ___a new 
kind of ___mainline ___ not THAT 
kind of
Why I am a missional, 
evangelical, post/protestant, 
liberal/conservative, 
mystical/poetic, biblical, 
charismatic/contemplative, 
fundamentalist/calvinist, 
anabaptist/anglican, 
methodist, catholic, green, 
incarnational, depressed-yet- 
hopeful, emergent, 
unfinished Christian. 
2005
1972
Kelley spoke the then-shocking truth that 
“Mainline” Protestantism, which had 
historically been the main form of 
Christianity in the United States, was fast 
becoming “old line” as it declined in 
numbers.
ML/OL was losing ground to a “new 
line” of conservative churches 
characterized by seriousness and 
strictness. 
serious about meaning 
strict regarding their 
norms of belief and behavior. 
This ... made them socially strong, and 
this social strength made them grow – as 
their adherents enthusiastically recruited 
others.
SERIOUS 
+ 
STRICT 
= 
STRONG
lukewarm 
+ 
lenient 
= 
weak
According to Kelley, strict, serious, and 
growing groups ... 
are not ‘reasonable,’ they are not ‘tolerant,’ 
they are not ecumenical, they are not 
‘relevant.’ They often refuse to recognize 
the validity of other Christian churches’ 
teachings, ordinations, sacraments. They 
observe unusual rituals … they [persist] in 
irrational behavior … They try to impose 
uniformity of belief and practice among 
members by censorship, heresy trials, and 
the like. (26).
The Paradox: 
There is about any serious meaning venture 
a certain irreducible fierceness, asperity, 
insistence, exclusiveness, rigor – a 
fanaticism that brushes everything else 
aside. Yet that very single-mindedness 
renders it objectionable to those who value 
balance, brotherhood, respect for individual 
diversity, mutual forbearance and self-restraint, 
civic peace, pluralism ... (164)
Chapter 6: 
Why Not a Strong, 
Ecumencial 
Religion?
“But why must there be any conflict? Are 
not freedom, justice, respect for others 
essential parts of the Christian faith? Ideally 
they should be, if rightly understood. One 
can conceive of a high-demand religious 
movement devoted to justice, freedom, 
beauty, respect for others, and so on, which 
could effectively explain life to [humankind] 
without fanaticism, absolutism, intolerance, 
or judgmental moralism. That is what – 
ideally – Christianity ought to be.”
“Yet where is such a phenomenon 
to be found?” 
-- Dean Kelley, 1972 
In the 40 years since ...
a search for a cure for 
CRIS 
Conflicted 
Religious 
Identity 
Syndrome
We know how to have 
a STRONG-HOSTILE 
CHRISTIAN IDENTITY.
We have the only way. 
You are going to hell. 
We are God’s chosen. 
You worship false gods. 
resistance if futile. 
you will be assimilated - or 
eliminated. 
we possess absolute truth. 
STRONG-HOSTILE
We know how to have 
a weak-benign 
CHRISTIAN IDENTITY.
it doesn’t matter what you believe. 
all religions are the same. 
all roads lead to god. 
only sincerity matters. 
doctrines divide. 
keep religion private. 
Mind/Matter: I don’t, it doesn’t. 
weak-benign
strong-hostile 
OR 
weak-benign?
where did our 
strong-hostile 
identity come 
from?
From Follow the Sacredness, by Jonathan Haidt 
http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/forget-the-money-follow-the-sacredness/ 
Despite what you might have learned in 
Economics 101, people aren’t always 
selfish. In politics, they’re more often 
groupish. When people feel that a group 
they value — be it racial, religious, 
regional or ideological — is under 
attack, they rally to its defense, even at 
some cost to themselves. We evolved to 
be tribal...
... The key to understanding tribal behavior 
is ... sacredness. The great trick that humans 
developed at some point in the last few 
hundred thousand years is the ability to circle 
around a tree, rock, ancestor, flag, book or god, 
and then treat that thing as sacred. People who 
worship the same idol can trust one another, 
work as a team and prevail over less cohesive 
groups. So if you want to understand politics, 
and especially our divisive culture wars, you 
must follow the sacredness.
Religions united our ancestors around 
a sacred object or idol ... and that 
unity gave some tribes survival 
advantage over others.
George mason university 1
But it’s not just the idol in the 
center that unites us: it’s also the 
“other” outside the circle. 
"Historically, the amity, or 
goodwill, within the group has 
often depended on enmity, or 
hatred, between groups.” 
(Robert Wright, Nonzero: The Logic Of Human 
Destiny, quoted in Evolutionaries by Carter Phipps)
Give people a common enemy, and you will 
give them a common identity. Deprive them 
of an enemy and you will deprive them of 
the crutch by which they know who they are. 
- James Alison
unity 
via 
hostility
Misconception: 
Our religious differences 
keep us apart.
Actuality: 
It is not our religious 
differences that keep us apart, 
but rather a haunting religious 
similarity ... that we build 
strong identities through 
hostility.
Can Christians today re-build our 
identity and ethos without 
hostility to the other?
We have the only way. 
You are going to hell. 
We are God’s chosen. 
You worship false gods. 
resistance if futile. 
you will be assimilated - or 
eliminated. 
STRONG-HOSTILE
it doesn’t matter what you believe. 
all religions are the same. 
all roads lead to god. 
only sincerity matters. 
doctrines divide. 
keep religion private. 
weak-benign
Because I Follow Jesus, I love you. 
I move toward “the other.” 
I break down walls of hostility. 
i stand with you in solidarity. 
you are made in God’s image. 
i am your servant. 
I practice human-kindness. 
strong-benevolent
Can there be 
A strong and benevolent 
Christian identity centered on 
Jesus and his story (good news) 
of the kingdom/commonwealth of 
God?
6 When he came to Nazareth, 
where he had been brought up, 
he went to the synagogue on the 
sabbath day, as was his custom. 
He stood up to read, 17and the 
scroll of the prophet Isaiah was 
given to him. He unrolled the 
scroll and found the place where 
it was written:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
because he has anointed me 
to bring good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim release 
to the captives 
and recovery of sight to the 
blind, 
to let the oppressed go free, 
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s 
favour.’
20And he rolled up the scroll, gave 
it back to the attendant, and sat 
down. The eyes of all in the 
synagogue were fixed on him. 
21Then he began to say to them, 
‘Today this scripture has been 
fulfilled in your hearing.’
22All spoke well of him and were 
amazed at the gracious words that 
came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is 
not this Joseph’s son?’ 
23He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will 
quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, 
cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do 
here also in your home town the 
things that we have heard you did at 
Capernaum.” ’
24And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet 
is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 
25But the truth is, there were many widows 
in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the 
heaven was shut up for three years and six 
months, and there was a severe famine 
over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to 
none of them except to a widow at 
Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also 
many lepers* in Israel in the time of the 
prophet Elisha, and none of them was 
cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’
When they heard this, all ... were 
filled with rage. They got up, drove 
him out of the town, and led him to 
the brow of the hill on which their 
town was built, so that they might 
hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed 
through the midst of them and went 
on his way.
a 5-part treatment plan for 
CRIS 
Conflicted 
Religious 
Identity 
Syndrome
The historical 
challenge
Jesus - we killed the prophets, God 
loves the other ... 
Stephen - our violent past 
Paul - I was a violent man 
Emperor Constantine 
Colonizers and Conquistadors 
“Biblical” racism and apartheidt
The Doctrinal 
Challenge
Trinity - litmus test for persecution 
Election - justification for genocide 
Original sin - God as hostile 
Doctrine - divisive teachings 
Trinity - image of one-anotherness 
Election - chosen for the benefit of all 
Original sin - original violence 
Doctrine - healing teachings
The Liturgical 
Challenge
Baptism - reinforcing clean/unclean? 
Eucharist - an altar of sacrifice 
Baptism - repentance = rethinking! 
Eucharist - a table of reconciliation!
The Missional 
Challenge
the old colonial “evangelism” - you 
give us your resources & labor in this 
life; we’ll give you heaven after 
death. 
the old liberal “development” - you 
give us your resources & labor in this 
life; we’ll give you western medicine, 
technology, government, economics.
words from vincent 
donovan
“‘…do not try to call them back to where 
they were, and do not try to call them to 
where you are, as beautiful as that place 
might seem to you. You must have the 
courage to go with them to a place that 
neither you nor they have ever been 
before.’ Good missionary advice, and a 
beautiful description of the unpredictable 
process of evangelization, a process 
leading to that new place where none of us 
has ever been before.” - Vincent Donovan
The Spiritual 
Challenge
in/out - WE are IN; THEY are OUT 
membership - status 
simplicity - dualism 
complexity - pragmatism 
perplexity - relativism/pluralism 
harmony - transcending, integrating 
love
a 5-part treatment plan for 
CRIS 
historical 
doctrinal 
liturgical 
missional 
spiritual
From Catherine Maresca (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) 
- 
Finally, [Maria] Cavalletti emphasizes the 
importance of being specific. You can’t teach 
children language without teaching children a 
language. She writes, “Wishing to stay on a 
vague level without any specific content is 
the same as wanting a child to talk without 
using any particular language.” Some parents 
say they don’t want their children to learn a 
particular religion because they want them to 
be free to choose their own. But these 
children are missing the opportunity to 
become spiritually literate.
To be initiated into the signs of their 
religious tradition creates the possibility 
of grasping the signs of many traditions, 
and of respecting the integrity of each of 
those traditions. So we need to be 
religious in a particular way, true to the 
faith we affirm for ourselves, in order to 
foster the spiritual and religious literacy 
of our children. world this is a service to 
our children. We have to be specific.
While we don’t reject other traditions, a 
particular religion has to be our starting point. To 
say, “I’m spiritual but not religious” is like 
saying, “I’m linguistic but don’t speak any 
particular language.” Everyone has innate 
linguistic capacity that gets activated as one 
learns a particular language or languages. 
Likewise, everyone has spiritual capacity that 
gets activated and mobilized through becoming 
religious in a particular way. Becoming religious 
in a particular way is foundational for relating to 
the religious other.
Children who have learned their native language well 
are poised to learn new languages with greater ease. 
Children who learned the language of their religious 
tradition are likewise poised to grasp the sacred signs 
of another tradition. As we nurture the spiritual life of 
young children with sacred signs, we simultaneously 
build the foundation of respect and understanding for 
others’ beliefs. With spiritual literacy, faith and 
interfaith formation work hand in hand, promoting in 
turn a more peaceful world. 
Children, Signs, and Spiritual 
Literacy: An Interfaith Experience 
By Catherine Maresca
Graciously holding a strong & benevolent identity. 
What does it look like? 
Sound like? 
Feel like?
The Anonymous Member Approach: 
“You are really one of us - you just don’t know it.” 
Strengths: 
Weaknesses:
The Incarnational Approach: 
“I am really one of you - you just don’t know it.” 
Strengths: 
Weaknesses:
The Common Ground Approach: 
“We’re talking about the same thing ... 
using different words ... 
or different imagery ... 
reflecting our different cultures.” 
Deen = Tao = Torah = Kingdom of God 
Satyagraha = Holy Spirit 
Mindfulness = mind of Christ 
Trinity = nonduality
The Common Ground Approach: 
Strengths 
Weaknesses
The Incommensurable Approach: 
“We’re not saying the same thing about the same 
thing ... 
Nor are we saying different things about the same 
thing ... 
We are saying different things about different things. 
We are asking different questions, solving different 
problems, engaged in different research.”
The Incommensurable Approach: 
West: Rights of the few/one versus the rights of the 
many. 
East: Rights of the dead versus the rights of the living 
Indigenous: Rights of the living versus the rights of the 
not-yet-living
The Incommensurable Approach: 
Buddhism: personal enlightenment before 
death/solving problem of desire/attachment/suffering 
Conservative Christianity; personal salvation after 
death/solving problem of original sin 
Prophetic Judaism/Progressive Christianity: being a 
just person and a just people to make a more just 
world/solving problem of personal and systemic 
injustice
From E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973) 
The Christ of the Indian Road
Pentecost Sermon (Paul Nuechterlein) 
For me, another clear sign of hope comes through the 
irony of God raising up a faithful disciple of Jesus 
Christ who was a Hindu and remained a Hindu. I'm 
talking about Mahatma Gandhi, who said this, among 
many other things, about Jesus: 
“Jesus expressed, as no other could, the spirit and will 
of God. It is in this sense that I see him and recognize 
him as the Son of God. And because the life of Jesus 
has the significance and the transcendency to which I 
have alluded, I believe that he belongs not solely to 
Christianity, but to the entire world, to all races and 
people.”
We might ask, So why didn't Gandhi simply convert to Christianity? 
But I think the better Pentecost question would be, Why should he 
have to convert? Why should he have to change religions? Why 
should he have to play into religion into the negative ways that 
bring division? Did Jesus come to offer us a new religion to add to 
our ways of dividing into differing cultures and languages -- the 
Tower of Babel reality? Or did he come to help each of us within 
our own religions and cultures to find the one true God of unity? I 
think that Pentecost shows us the latter. We can welcome, as many 
Christians are coming to do, the diversity of religious practices that 
help lead to the experience of our oneness in God. Christians are 
learning from Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims and indigenous 
religions the effective religious practices of how to become closer to 
the God of Jesus Christ. That's the Pentecost pouring out of the 
Holy Spirit on all peoples, so that their experience of oneness 
transcends their many languages and cultures.
Finally, the greatest sign of hope to me is how Gandhi helped 
deepen our understanding of the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate. He 
had his own name for it in Sanskrit: Satyagraha, he called it, which 
translates as Truth Force. Satyagraha moved him and many millions 
of people over the last century to learn Jesus' way to peace through 
loving, nonviolent resistance to evil. Like Jesus on the cross, in this 
way to peace we risk taking that old way of sin, righteousness, and 
judgment on ourselves in order to reveal its futility, its wrongness, 
and offering instead God's way of grace and forgiveness. Pentecost 
is Satyagraha poured out on us so that we may bring peace to our 
lives as family members, co-workers, neighbors, citizens, and, yes, 
as both Jesus and Gandhi compelled us to do, as children of God -- 
all of humanity, children of God. Amen 
Rev. Paul J. Nuechterlein 
Delivered at Prince of Peace Lutheran, Portage, MI, May 27, 2012
George mason university 1
As the child of missionary in India, 
who was the child of a missionary in India, 
who was the child of a missionary in India, 
I have 
a lot of India 
in my soul/marrow/terra forma. 
I breathed 
the ancient heritage of India 
when I was three. 
I learned Marathi. 
I ate jalebes. 
I sucked the delicious juice of the sugar cane. 
I played in the dust of our school-for-orphans-yard 
with Machinder
. . . and, then I got older 
and went south 
to Tamil Nadu 
and Kodaikanal 
to boarding school near Madurai. 
I visited, 
as a child, 
the caves of Ellora. 
I didn't know what to make of them, 
then. 
As an adult 
i visited them 
again . . .
Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists and Jains . . 
all carving caves 
next to 
each other 
in ancient times . . . 
side by side.
The Anonymous Member Approach 
The Incarnational Approach 
The Common Ground Approach 
The Incommensurable Approach 
The Neighborly/Common Good Approach ... 
We are different families with different traditions 
bound together by the past, present, and future ... 
and we must figure out how to work together 
for the common good, 
for the alternatives to conviviality are unacceptable.”
What do good neighbors do? 
They love one another as they love themselves.
wanted: 
people in recovery from CRIS 
to help others get the healing 
they need. 
Every sermon 
Every song 
Every prayer 
Every interaction 
Every week
George mason university 1
George mason university 1
diagnosing and treating 
CRIS* in yourself and others 
(conflicted religious identity syndrome)
a prayer for disciples
O God, whose love 
makes us one family - 
May your unspeakable 
Name be revered.
Here on earth may your 
commonwealth come … 
on earth as in heaven may your 
dreams come true.
Give us today our 
bread for today. 
Forgive us our wrongs 
as we forgive.
Lead us away from the 
perilous trial, 
Liberate us from the evil.
For the kingdom is yours and yours alone, 
the power is yours and yours alone, 
the glory is yours and yours alone, 
now and forever. Amen. 
(Hallelujah … Amen)
George mason university 1
spiritual 
but not 
religious: 
a cliche? 
boring? 
not enough?
we may 
be bored 
but they 
SBNR’s 
are not to 
be 
ignored.

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George mason university 1

  • 1. diagnosing and treating CRIS* in yourself and others (conflicted religious identity syndrome)
  • 2. new epidemics often go unnoticed until a high-profile figure is stricken. 2
  • 6. Anne has concluded that she will never truly belong to the “quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group” known as Christians unless she becomes “anti-gay … anti-feminist … anti–artificial birth control … anti- Democrat … anti–secular humanism … anti-science … anti-life.”
  • 7. Tell that much of the story, and you have the sort of thing the news media love to report— another celebrity break-up, if you will. But this time, the celebrity is divorcing God. But that’s not the whole story. Really, it’s not the story at all. Anne explains that, “My faith in Christ is central to my life.” She is still “an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God.” “But,” she says, “following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”
  • 8. And so, she concludes, “In the name of Christ… I quit Christianity and being Christian.”
  • 9. Just this week, Israeli intellectual Shlomo Sand ... “I resign from being Jewish.”
  • 11. Last Fall: a graduate of an Evangelical Christian college
  • 12. Last Fall: “We’re dropping out because we don’t want to belong to a religion that requires us to be hostile.”
  • 13. Today: how many of us? Tomorrow: same? worse? better?
  • 14. Do you have CRIS? Conflicted Religious Identity Syndrome
  • 15. SELF-MEDICATION: ADJECTIVES __conservative ___liberal ___Evangelical ___progressive ___emergent ___moderate ___a new kind of ___mainline ___ not THAT kind of
  • 16. Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed-yet- hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian. 2005
  • 17. 1972
  • 18. Kelley spoke the then-shocking truth that “Mainline” Protestantism, which had historically been the main form of Christianity in the United States, was fast becoming “old line” as it declined in numbers.
  • 19. ML/OL was losing ground to a “new line” of conservative churches characterized by seriousness and strictness. serious about meaning strict regarding their norms of belief and behavior. This ... made them socially strong, and this social strength made them grow – as their adherents enthusiastically recruited others.
  • 20. SERIOUS + STRICT = STRONG
  • 22. According to Kelley, strict, serious, and growing groups ... are not ‘reasonable,’ they are not ‘tolerant,’ they are not ecumenical, they are not ‘relevant.’ They often refuse to recognize the validity of other Christian churches’ teachings, ordinations, sacraments. They observe unusual rituals … they [persist] in irrational behavior … They try to impose uniformity of belief and practice among members by censorship, heresy trials, and the like. (26).
  • 23. The Paradox: There is about any serious meaning venture a certain irreducible fierceness, asperity, insistence, exclusiveness, rigor – a fanaticism that brushes everything else aside. Yet that very single-mindedness renders it objectionable to those who value balance, brotherhood, respect for individual diversity, mutual forbearance and self-restraint, civic peace, pluralism ... (164)
  • 24. Chapter 6: Why Not a Strong, Ecumencial Religion?
  • 25. “But why must there be any conflict? Are not freedom, justice, respect for others essential parts of the Christian faith? Ideally they should be, if rightly understood. One can conceive of a high-demand religious movement devoted to justice, freedom, beauty, respect for others, and so on, which could effectively explain life to [humankind] without fanaticism, absolutism, intolerance, or judgmental moralism. That is what – ideally – Christianity ought to be.”
  • 26. “Yet where is such a phenomenon to be found?” -- Dean Kelley, 1972 In the 40 years since ...
  • 27. a search for a cure for CRIS Conflicted Religious Identity Syndrome
  • 28. We know how to have a STRONG-HOSTILE CHRISTIAN IDENTITY.
  • 29. We have the only way. You are going to hell. We are God’s chosen. You worship false gods. resistance if futile. you will be assimilated - or eliminated. we possess absolute truth. STRONG-HOSTILE
  • 30. We know how to have a weak-benign CHRISTIAN IDENTITY.
  • 31. it doesn’t matter what you believe. all religions are the same. all roads lead to god. only sincerity matters. doctrines divide. keep religion private. Mind/Matter: I don’t, it doesn’t. weak-benign
  • 33. where did our strong-hostile identity come from?
  • 34. From Follow the Sacredness, by Jonathan Haidt http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/forget-the-money-follow-the-sacredness/ Despite what you might have learned in Economics 101, people aren’t always selfish. In politics, they’re more often groupish. When people feel that a group they value — be it racial, religious, regional or ideological — is under attack, they rally to its defense, even at some cost to themselves. We evolved to be tribal...
  • 35. ... The key to understanding tribal behavior is ... sacredness. The great trick that humans developed at some point in the last few hundred thousand years is the ability to circle around a tree, rock, ancestor, flag, book or god, and then treat that thing as sacred. People who worship the same idol can trust one another, work as a team and prevail over less cohesive groups. So if you want to understand politics, and especially our divisive culture wars, you must follow the sacredness.
  • 36. Religions united our ancestors around a sacred object or idol ... and that unity gave some tribes survival advantage over others.
  • 38. But it’s not just the idol in the center that unites us: it’s also the “other” outside the circle. "Historically, the amity, or goodwill, within the group has often depended on enmity, or hatred, between groups.” (Robert Wright, Nonzero: The Logic Of Human Destiny, quoted in Evolutionaries by Carter Phipps)
  • 39. Give people a common enemy, and you will give them a common identity. Deprive them of an enemy and you will deprive them of the crutch by which they know who they are. - James Alison
  • 41. Misconception: Our religious differences keep us apart.
  • 42. Actuality: It is not our religious differences that keep us apart, but rather a haunting religious similarity ... that we build strong identities through hostility.
  • 43. Can Christians today re-build our identity and ethos without hostility to the other?
  • 44. We have the only way. You are going to hell. We are God’s chosen. You worship false gods. resistance if futile. you will be assimilated - or eliminated. STRONG-HOSTILE
  • 45. it doesn’t matter what you believe. all religions are the same. all roads lead to god. only sincerity matters. doctrines divide. keep religion private. weak-benign
  • 46. Because I Follow Jesus, I love you. I move toward “the other.” I break down walls of hostility. i stand with you in solidarity. you are made in God’s image. i am your servant. I practice human-kindness. strong-benevolent
  • 47. Can there be A strong and benevolent Christian identity centered on Jesus and his story (good news) of the kingdom/commonwealth of God?
  • 48. 6 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
  • 49. 18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
  • 50. 20And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’
  • 51. 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 23He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’
  • 52. 24And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepers* in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’
  • 53. When they heard this, all ... were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
  • 54. a 5-part treatment plan for CRIS Conflicted Religious Identity Syndrome
  • 56. Jesus - we killed the prophets, God loves the other ... Stephen - our violent past Paul - I was a violent man Emperor Constantine Colonizers and Conquistadors “Biblical” racism and apartheidt
  • 58. Trinity - litmus test for persecution Election - justification for genocide Original sin - God as hostile Doctrine - divisive teachings Trinity - image of one-anotherness Election - chosen for the benefit of all Original sin - original violence Doctrine - healing teachings
  • 60. Baptism - reinforcing clean/unclean? Eucharist - an altar of sacrifice Baptism - repentance = rethinking! Eucharist - a table of reconciliation!
  • 62. the old colonial “evangelism” - you give us your resources & labor in this life; we’ll give you heaven after death. the old liberal “development” - you give us your resources & labor in this life; we’ll give you western medicine, technology, government, economics.
  • 64. “‘…do not try to call them back to where they were, and do not try to call them to where you are, as beautiful as that place might seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither you nor they have ever been before.’ Good missionary advice, and a beautiful description of the unpredictable process of evangelization, a process leading to that new place where none of us has ever been before.” - Vincent Donovan
  • 66. in/out - WE are IN; THEY are OUT membership - status simplicity - dualism complexity - pragmatism perplexity - relativism/pluralism harmony - transcending, integrating love
  • 67. a 5-part treatment plan for CRIS historical doctrinal liturgical missional spiritual
  • 68. From Catherine Maresca (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) - Finally, [Maria] Cavalletti emphasizes the importance of being specific. You can’t teach children language without teaching children a language. She writes, “Wishing to stay on a vague level without any specific content is the same as wanting a child to talk without using any particular language.” Some parents say they don’t want their children to learn a particular religion because they want them to be free to choose their own. But these children are missing the opportunity to become spiritually literate.
  • 69. To be initiated into the signs of their religious tradition creates the possibility of grasping the signs of many traditions, and of respecting the integrity of each of those traditions. So we need to be religious in a particular way, true to the faith we affirm for ourselves, in order to foster the spiritual and religious literacy of our children. world this is a service to our children. We have to be specific.
  • 70. While we don’t reject other traditions, a particular religion has to be our starting point. To say, “I’m spiritual but not religious” is like saying, “I’m linguistic but don’t speak any particular language.” Everyone has innate linguistic capacity that gets activated as one learns a particular language or languages. Likewise, everyone has spiritual capacity that gets activated and mobilized through becoming religious in a particular way. Becoming religious in a particular way is foundational for relating to the religious other.
  • 71. Children who have learned their native language well are poised to learn new languages with greater ease. Children who learned the language of their religious tradition are likewise poised to grasp the sacred signs of another tradition. As we nurture the spiritual life of young children with sacred signs, we simultaneously build the foundation of respect and understanding for others’ beliefs. With spiritual literacy, faith and interfaith formation work hand in hand, promoting in turn a more peaceful world. Children, Signs, and Spiritual Literacy: An Interfaith Experience By Catherine Maresca
  • 72. Graciously holding a strong & benevolent identity. What does it look like? Sound like? Feel like?
  • 73. The Anonymous Member Approach: “You are really one of us - you just don’t know it.” Strengths: Weaknesses:
  • 74. The Incarnational Approach: “I am really one of you - you just don’t know it.” Strengths: Weaknesses:
  • 75. The Common Ground Approach: “We’re talking about the same thing ... using different words ... or different imagery ... reflecting our different cultures.” Deen = Tao = Torah = Kingdom of God Satyagraha = Holy Spirit Mindfulness = mind of Christ Trinity = nonduality
  • 76. The Common Ground Approach: Strengths Weaknesses
  • 77. The Incommensurable Approach: “We’re not saying the same thing about the same thing ... Nor are we saying different things about the same thing ... We are saying different things about different things. We are asking different questions, solving different problems, engaged in different research.”
  • 78. The Incommensurable Approach: West: Rights of the few/one versus the rights of the many. East: Rights of the dead versus the rights of the living Indigenous: Rights of the living versus the rights of the not-yet-living
  • 79. The Incommensurable Approach: Buddhism: personal enlightenment before death/solving problem of desire/attachment/suffering Conservative Christianity; personal salvation after death/solving problem of original sin Prophetic Judaism/Progressive Christianity: being a just person and a just people to make a more just world/solving problem of personal and systemic injustice
  • 80. From E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973) The Christ of the Indian Road
  • 81. Pentecost Sermon (Paul Nuechterlein) For me, another clear sign of hope comes through the irony of God raising up a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ who was a Hindu and remained a Hindu. I'm talking about Mahatma Gandhi, who said this, among many other things, about Jesus: “Jesus expressed, as no other could, the spirit and will of God. It is in this sense that I see him and recognize him as the Son of God. And because the life of Jesus has the significance and the transcendency to which I have alluded, I believe that he belongs not solely to Christianity, but to the entire world, to all races and people.”
  • 82. We might ask, So why didn't Gandhi simply convert to Christianity? But I think the better Pentecost question would be, Why should he have to convert? Why should he have to change religions? Why should he have to play into religion into the negative ways that bring division? Did Jesus come to offer us a new religion to add to our ways of dividing into differing cultures and languages -- the Tower of Babel reality? Or did he come to help each of us within our own religions and cultures to find the one true God of unity? I think that Pentecost shows us the latter. We can welcome, as many Christians are coming to do, the diversity of religious practices that help lead to the experience of our oneness in God. Christians are learning from Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims and indigenous religions the effective religious practices of how to become closer to the God of Jesus Christ. That's the Pentecost pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all peoples, so that their experience of oneness transcends their many languages and cultures.
  • 83. Finally, the greatest sign of hope to me is how Gandhi helped deepen our understanding of the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate. He had his own name for it in Sanskrit: Satyagraha, he called it, which translates as Truth Force. Satyagraha moved him and many millions of people over the last century to learn Jesus' way to peace through loving, nonviolent resistance to evil. Like Jesus on the cross, in this way to peace we risk taking that old way of sin, righteousness, and judgment on ourselves in order to reveal its futility, its wrongness, and offering instead God's way of grace and forgiveness. Pentecost is Satyagraha poured out on us so that we may bring peace to our lives as family members, co-workers, neighbors, citizens, and, yes, as both Jesus and Gandhi compelled us to do, as children of God -- all of humanity, children of God. Amen Rev. Paul J. Nuechterlein Delivered at Prince of Peace Lutheran, Portage, MI, May 27, 2012
  • 85. As the child of missionary in India, who was the child of a missionary in India, who was the child of a missionary in India, I have a lot of India in my soul/marrow/terra forma. I breathed the ancient heritage of India when I was three. I learned Marathi. I ate jalebes. I sucked the delicious juice of the sugar cane. I played in the dust of our school-for-orphans-yard with Machinder
  • 86. . . . and, then I got older and went south to Tamil Nadu and Kodaikanal to boarding school near Madurai. I visited, as a child, the caves of Ellora. I didn't know what to make of them, then. As an adult i visited them again . . .
  • 87. Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists and Jains . . all carving caves next to each other in ancient times . . . side by side.
  • 88. The Anonymous Member Approach The Incarnational Approach The Common Ground Approach The Incommensurable Approach The Neighborly/Common Good Approach ... We are different families with different traditions bound together by the past, present, and future ... and we must figure out how to work together for the common good, for the alternatives to conviviality are unacceptable.”
  • 89. What do good neighbors do? They love one another as they love themselves.
  • 90. wanted: people in recovery from CRIS to help others get the healing they need. Every sermon Every song Every prayer Every interaction Every week
  • 93. diagnosing and treating CRIS* in yourself and others (conflicted religious identity syndrome)
  • 94. a prayer for disciples
  • 95. O God, whose love makes us one family - May your unspeakable Name be revered.
  • 96. Here on earth may your commonwealth come … on earth as in heaven may your dreams come true.
  • 97. Give us today our bread for today. Forgive us our wrongs as we forgive.
  • 98. Lead us away from the perilous trial, Liberate us from the evil.
  • 99. For the kingdom is yours and yours alone, the power is yours and yours alone, the glory is yours and yours alone, now and forever. Amen. (Hallelujah … Amen)
  • 101. spiritual but not religious: a cliche? boring? not enough?
  • 102. we may be bored but they SBNR’s are not to be ignored.