Chapter 13, “A Semi-Pro-Life Movement”
John, the author, writes that during the Covid Pandemic the filters of good Christian people were not in place. He uses the phrase ugly authenticity to describe himself as the found himself fussing and cussing as he faced people he knew who were maintaining a beautiful lie. When filters and facades are lost, the real person is revealed for good or not. He says, “Under normal conditions, a thin veneer of decorum and a bit of ornamental religiosity can cover a multitude of sins for long periods of time, but wholesale cataclysmic trauma like we have experienced in the path of Covid-19 doesn’t allow for such expendable emotional income….. We become a little bit more of who we are at our core – which is why they say that crises don’t create character but simply reveal it.” He goes on to write of cognitive dissonance with saying one thing and doing the opposite without being aware.
The remainder of the chapter focuses on the issue of abortion and pro-life opinions and how those opinions create a narrow understanding of life and God. He makes a case for God giving all of us the ability to make decisions for ourselves along with giving us free will to make those decisions.
This chapter is complex because of the issue of our images of God and how we treat ourselves and each other. Here are some questions about life to ponder: how do we adopt a wider defense of the living? Do we treasure all life fiercely? Do we advocate for all of it passionately? Do we oppose all legislation that assails it? Are we burdened with it regardless of where it resides? Does our defense of people transcend pigmentation, orientation, nation of origin? And, “Until many Christians find a pro-life ethic that is not bound by politics or preference, we’re not going to be able to fully embrace our calling to love all our neighbors, and we’re going to continue to put a barrier between the Church and those who think humanity beyond the birth canal matters.”
Chapter 14, “Holy Ferocity”
This chapter explores anger. Can one be Christian and be angry? Are anger and love mutually exclusive? Can we assess the object and purpose of our anger and use anger appropriately.
What is anger? Anger is human energy. We all have this energy available to us but how we use anger is the important issue to consider. Anger is on the surface so to speak. Anger very often masks over deeper issues that have been repressed. When those issues are not dealt with anger energy rises to the top creating an explosion and destruction as well.
John suggests people of faith interested in protecting the common good replace anger with ferocity. Ferocity can defend a child from harm. Ferocity for humanity birthed the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the fight for LGBTQ equality, the Black Lives Matter movement, the right for a woman to decide her own reproductive health issues. Ferocity fueled Jesus in the temple turning over the tables.
He suggests “places where people of faith, morality, and conscience gather should be places courageous environments where the absolute most difficult aspects of being human are laid bare.” What would Grace Church be like if we were people of ugly authenticity engaging in tough conversations, awkward silences? Instead of feeling good and comfortable once a week, we allowed ourselves to question, feel all our feelings including anger and passion for all of humanity on planet Earth. John reminds us “Jesus wasn’t always nice. He was always love, but not a soft, saccharine, Hallmark-movie, pop song love. In Matthew 10:34-36. Jesus says I did not come to bring peace but a sword. What does that mean to you? What is the place of ferocity in these words of Jesus.?
Questions to ponder:
“Doubt is a profound and effective spiritual motivation. Without doubt, no truism is transcended, no new knowledge found, no expansion of the imagination is possible. Doubt is unsettling to the ego and those who are drawn by ideologies that promise the dispelling of doubt by preferring certainties never grow. In seeing certainty they are courting the death of the Soul, whose nature is forever churning possibility, forever seeking the larger, forever riding the melting edge of certainty’s glacier.”
James Hollis, PhD, Jungian Analyst
- In what ways has doubt influenced your thoughts about pro-choice and pro-life?
- Do you agree with the author that many Christians who claim to be pro-life ignore much of humanity after birth because that is a much more costly activism? Why or Why Not?
- What is the greatest obstacle to developing a consistent pro-life ethic for you?
- What makes you angry from a spiritual perspective? When do you feel that holy ferocity the author described?
- When do you most have difficulty slowing down and looking at your anger?
What are your thoughts: ”They rightly cannot reconcile how so many followers of Jesus are seemingly able to place the word “abortions” on one side of a massive moral scale—and have it far outweigh the lives of caged children, mass shooting victims, murdered Black men; or the prevalent threats of generational poverty, systemic racism, and a litany of human rights atrocities that barely seem to register or matter.” p. 145-146
Overvaluing Niceness —– Sanitizing Jesus’ Fierce Love for Humanity
What are your thoughts about niceness?
What is Fierce Love?