By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Monday, May 6, 2013

When It Doesn't Work Anymore

Religious vs. Christian. Some of our Protestant brethren often speak about this distinction. I know why. You can't read the Gospels without seeing the conflict between the religious elite and Jesus right smack in the middle of the storyline.

What doesn't work?

1. When your love for liturgical ritual really means, first and foremost, your love for your own tastes and preferences present in the liturgical ritual.

2. When your first and persistent instinct is to correct someone rather than to go positive and find common ground.

3. When your religion reflects more a personality addicted to authority, control, judgment, and structure than a personality that generously and warmly reaches out to individuals.

4. When your image is antiseptic and "white-bread" rather than that of someone who is willing to get into the trenches and into the midst of the messy, complex lives and questions of people.

5. When your religious knowledge is a badge of hidden arrogance (no different than secular arrogance) rather than a lesson in humility.

Pope Francis captured it best: we must be people who go out into the streets and risk the inevitable accidents, rather than just staying in the sanctuary and in select "self-referential" circles. We must be people others find immensely approachable, rather than forbidding and intimidating.

Here is Christian wisdom that is good advice for all, whether they are consciously Christian or not. It is advice of value to anyone who wants to be fully human.

The Founder did it. But the lesson is especially true here, that is also true of many other founders: too many of the followers (and some who are the loudest and project the greatest rigor) end up being the opposite of the founder--an ironic but common inversion. (If you want a label, we can call it "follower inversion.")

(Image in public domain)