I’m a city kid. I grew up in Flint, Michigan and was only an hour away from Detroit. The 1970s, my childhood, was the time when we heard a new phrase: white flight. It was a time when whites who lived in cities like Flint and Detroit, left the inner cities to head to a new life in the burbs. At least in Michigan, the move to places like Rochester Hills, Farmington Hills, Troy and Southfield created segregated metro areas with a black and poorer inner core and a white outer ring.
So, I grew up with an antipathy towards the suburbs. They were places that were gated paradises filled with racist white folk who couldn’t give a damn about the folks in the cities.
Twenty years later, I don’t have the same hatred of suspicion of the burbs. They are still not the places I prefer to live in (thought I did live in the Washington, DC suburbs of Arlington, VA and Silver Spring, MD in the years following college). Part that is because I actually started paying attention to what is going on in the suburbs. Over the years, I’ve learned that hunger take place in suburbs like Maple Grove, Minnesota, which is just west of Minneapolis. I’ve learned that domestic violence takes place and that there are shelters for women and children in the tony suburbs of Oakland County north of Detroit. I learned that runaway youth who live in the burbs need a place to stay. I learned that suburban schools are becoming more diverse, handling people from different parts of the world. What I’ve learned is that the suburbs are not some fascist utopia, but are real places with real problems.
But while the burbs are far more complex than I was led to believe, they old stereotype still exists, especially in churches. Church leaders constantly rip the burbs as being against the will of God.
Last week, Acton Institute blogger Anthony Bradley blogged on how the new radicalism being preached by several evangelical ministers seems to favor the bold and daring instead of ordinary. Here’s a key paragraph.
In the 1970s and 1980s the children and older grandchildren of the Builder generation (born 1901 between 1920) sorted themselves and headed to the suburbs to raise their children in safety, comfort, and material ease. And, taking a cue from the Baby Boomer parents (born between 1946 and 1964) to despise the contexts that provided them advantages, Millennials (born between 1977 and 1995) now have a disdain for America’s suburbs. This despising of suburban life has been inadvertently encouraged by well-intentioned religious leaders inviting people to move to neglected cities to make a difference, because, after all, the Apostle Paul did his work primarily in cities, cities are important, and cities are the final destination of the Kingdom of God. They were told that God loves cities and they should too. The unfortunate message became that you cannot live a meaningful Christian life in the suburbs.
This led to a response from the folks at the Fare Forward blog who countered Bradley’s assessment of the suburbs. They believe that Christians in America should abstain from suburban living:
Yet some forms of cultural resistance should be universal, because some aspects of “normal” life in America are deeply unChristian. Bradley laments that “anti-suburban Christianity” has lead to this kind of legalism. But there are some things deeply unChristian, and deeply counter to even natural virtue, in the suburbs. Will Seath does a good job of laying those out in his article from the winter edition of Fare Forward. Bradley suggests that the anti-suburban Christians advocate for urbanism at the expense of the suburbs. But, as the buzz around Rod Dreher’s latest book on moving home, a lot of the anti-suburban sentiment comes from people who support small town living just as much as from those who support city living. And the thing that unites the city and the country against the suburbs is the belief that the suburbs are not, as a matter of fact, ordinary, natural life, but a strange artificial construct that hinders ordinary live and ordinary relationships (see Seath for more).
Notice what’s being said here. It’s not that suburbs aren’t optimal to Christian living. No, suburban living is unChristian, it goes against what it means to be a Christian. I haven’t read the Will Seath article, but even without reading it the above statement is astounding. What is being said here is that nothing good comes from the suburbs, and that millions of Christians in America are basically committing a grave sin because they chose to live outside the city.
In some ways what we are seeing here is a religious version of the war between sociologists Joel Kotkin and Richard Florida. Florida is well known for his book of a decade ago called “Rise of the Creative Class.” Florida tends to focus on America’s cities and focuses especially on cities that can attract the “creatives” persons in the arts that can enhance the life of a city. Kotkin on the other hand, tends to focus on America’s suburbs and less cooler cities. It’s obvious from the tone of this post that I tend to agree more (though not totally) with Kotkin. If you want to get a different view on suburbanism, read Kotkin’s 2010 essay “The War Against the Suburbs.”
My point isn’t that the burbs are better than cities or small towns. My point is that I think Bradley has a point that we are called to live a godly life where we are planted, be that a big city, small town or sleepy suburb.
Are there unChristian things going on the suburbs? Yes. But last I checked unChristian principles like greed are found in the city as much as in the suburbs. Wall Street is in New York, by the way.
I think the guys at FareForward are dressing up their prejudices against the suburbs and for the city in biblical garb. There’s nothing wrong with preferring city over suburb. What is a problem is trying to use the Bible to justify your views.
I think God calls us to different places. We might be called to an inner city neighborhood, or a small town or a suburb. Rod Dreher was mentioned in the blog post by FareForward. Dreher wasn’t saying just live in small towns or go back to your hometown, but that we must put down roots in the communities where we live and work. Dreher commented in a recent blog post about his book The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, a memoir about his sister living and dying with lung cancer:
I want to push back against people who say you should not leave the country for the city — that was my sister’s view — and against the view of people who say that you should leave the country for the city, which, broadly speaking, is the view of my class. The truth is, we are not all called to do the same thing, or, as I’ve learned, to do the same thing for all of one’s life. I had to leave the country as a young man, not only for my own health, but to fulfill what I believe was my divine calling to be a writer. The sojourn I took in the mid-1990s, trying to move back to Louisiana and failing, confirmed to me that God had a calling on my life, and it could only be accomplished away from here. Now, though, nearly 20 years later, I was able to see through my sister’s fidelity to her own calling here in the country, that He was calling me to do a new thing, outside of the city. What did it was being impressed — overwhelmed, actually — by the extraordinary good my sister Ruthie did living here in this little country town, and seeing in that a model of faithful presence that challenges my own ambitions, and the ambitions of many, many people like me…
This vision was expanded by my attending the funeral of my Great Uncle Jimmy, who was a common man of uncommon goodness and greatness. I came home from that a changed man by what I had seen and heard, and started Orthodox Holy Week in a far more prayerful state of mind because of him. All week I’ve been thinking about how much people need to know about the Ruthie Lemings and James Fletchers of this world, and how I am not necessarily in a position to do the things they did, but I am in a position to write about it, to tell others. This is how I can use the gift and the opportunities God has given me.
Are there Ruthie Lemings and James Fletchers in the city? Absolutely; Uncle Jimmy lived in one, actually, in industrial West Monroe. Goodness knows nothing of the city and country distinction — and neither, it should be said, does evil, though country people and city people sometimes flatter and delude themselves that those who live in the Other Place are more susceptible to wickedness than they are. My point is simply that for me, given my own personal and professional story, I have discovered, to my very great surprise, a calling back to the country. Because of the sort of person I am, I could not, or at least did not, “see” the Uncle Jimmys and Ruthies when I lived in the city, though they were no doubt all around me. It took leaving the city for me to be able to do this. Since Little Way was published, I have heard from so many readers who have written intense, heartfelt letters telling me how much this story about a little town and its people has changed their perspective on life and how to live it…
My point, in terms of Christian vocation — which is what Alan brought up — is that God can use us in the country, He can use us in the suburbs, and He can use us in the city.
He goes on to say about how young Christians want to do Big Things, and they do. I wanted to change things when I was in my 20s. But now in my 40s, I want to live a good life, live to be used by God wherever I am.
First off, welcome to all the new visitors who saw my post on Freshly Pressed. Below is a post from last year.
It was about 20 years ago, that I attended a large Baptist church in Washington, DC. The church was an odd mix, or at least it would be odd today. Evangelicals and liberals were somehow able to worship together, along side a healthy dose of members from Latin America and Asia.
The church decided at some point to hire a pastor to the join the good-sized multi-pastor staff. The person chosen was a woman with great pastoral care skills. At the time, there was a bit of controversy because she was pro-gay and some of the evangelicals in the church weren’t crazy about that.
I was at a meeting where a member of the congregation stood up. She was one of the evangelical members of the congregation and she had what could be considered a “traditional” understanding on homosexuality, but she spoke in favor of calling the pastor. You see, the pastor had been involved with congregation for a few years and the two had gotten to know each other. “We don’t agree,” I recall this woman saying when talking about the issue they didn’t see eye-to-eye on. But this woman was a good friend and she saw her as the right person for the job.
What’s so interesting about this story is that I don’t think it could happen today. Churches like the one in DC really don’t exist anymore. Evangelicals and liberals have sorted themselves into different churches and don’t really know each other. Which only makes it easier to highlight differences and demonize each other.
When it comes to the issue of gay rights the two camps talk past each other, having very different objectives that the other side just doesn’t get.
For liberals, this is about equality. Framed by the story of the civil rights movement, they see any attempt to block same-sex marriage or gay clergy as akin to denying African Americans the right to vote.
For evangelicals, this is about conscience. They feel they must be faithful to what they believe the Bible is telling them when it comes to sexual morality. They see any approval of gay sex as going against God’s commands.
These differences were there 20 years ago, but I think there might have also been more opportunity to come together and meet the other. Our self-selected society allows us to basically pick our friends instead of trying to build bridges with those who might be different.
Why am I telling this story? I don’t really know, except that maybe I would like us to find ways were we can learn to disagree without being so disagreeable.
Civility is all the talk in our political culture, mostly because it seems like we have less and less of it. We have made it a civic value, but I want to lift up the fact that it should also be a moral and biblical value. We have to learn ways to respect and honor one another; not papering over our differences, but finding ways to still care for each other even when we disagree. Evangelical church planter Tim Keller said it best a year ago:
AMANPOUR: You talk about polarization between left and right. It does seem to be extreme, at the moment, in the United States politically, socially. Is there any hope that that can change, do you think?
KELLER: It will start if we stop demonizing each other. I — my — my — my elderly mother once said that up until about 15 years ago, if you voted for a different person for president and the person you voted against became president, you still considered him your president. He said — she said 15 years ago, that changed, that if you voted against that guy and he became president, you actually act as if he’s illegitimate. And I’m not sure that is a big social and cultural difference. We — and it really means the other side isn’t really just wrong, they’re kind of evil. And that’s pretty bad.
MANPOUR: I have to say that many would say the church plays into this highly acrimonious debate — public debate, not all church, but certainly some parts of the church. What should the church be doing different?
KELLER: At the very least, we should be creating individuals who know how to talk civilly. The gospel should create people who say, I’m loved by God but I’m — I’m a sinner. So there — there should be a certain humility and graciousness about the way in which you talk to everybody. As an institution, most of the churches have lost a lot of credibility. So I think my job is to create individuals who can participate in civil discourse.
AMANPOUR: You’re saying institutionally, the church has lost credibility?
KELLER: The mainline church identified with liberal politics, the Evangelicals have identified, at least they’re identified in people’s minds, with conservative politics. The Catholic Church has had the sex scandals. And so institutionally, each church has lost credibility. So I think it’s our job as individual congregations to care for the poor, to produce civil — people who speak civilly, to just serve our neighborhoods and serve people and be careful about speaking ex-cathedra, you know, about these great political positions on issues.
I would disagree with Keller in that I do think the church has a right to speak out on issues and there are some issues where we have to be clear where we stand. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try to look at our sister and brothers as if they are evil. We can find ways to be civil in maybe in some way speak to people about what church is all about.
What a witness that would be.
“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark!”
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 5, 2013
First Christian Church
Morning, guys. So, I wanted to ask you all: are you afraid of the dark? When I was your age, my Mom and Dad had a nighlight in my room, because I was scared of the dark. Actually, the dark still kind of scares me. When I would visit my relatives in Louisiana, they lived in the country, far away from street lights and the roads could get really dark and scary.
So there was this guy named John who wrote a book in the Bible called Revelation. He has this dream and he’s shown heaven. Actually, it’s heaven on earth. It’s a really beautiful place and the thing is, it’s never night there. John says it’s because the light comes from God, so it’s always day and never night.
We believe that one day we are going see this. But you know what? We can see that now, because God is always with us, even when things are dark. God right now is like our nightlight, and one day God will be like the sun, and there won’t be anything to make us scared.
So, when things are kind of scary, or even if you’re trying to go to sleep in a dark room. Know that God is with us, like a nightlight, telling us not to be afraid because God is right there with us. Let’s pray.
The Obama Administration has decided to offer Plan B, the emergency contraceptive, to women over the age of 15 without a perscription. All those under 15 have to get a percription. That goes against a judge who ordered that the drug be made available to all women without a script.
Of course, most women’s groups tend to favor the judge’s ruling. It’s about the women’s health, the say.
Yeah. I’m pro-choice and favor comprehensive sex-ed and I even favor giving kids condoms. But going back to have my hypothetical daughter (I’ll name her Harriet, because I’ve always liked that name). I don’t know if I want my little girl being able to go to Target and get birth control when they aren’t even able to drive.
It’s not that I can protect a kid from having sex. I think parents have to do the best they can in telling kids the good and the bad of sex. But I don’t know if I want to give pretend-Harriet the equivalent of the car keys when she may not even be ready emotionally.
Columnist Kathleen Parker echoes these concerns:
There’s no point debating whether such young girls should be sexually active. Obviously, given the potential consequences, both physical and psychological, the answer is no. Just as obvious, our culture says quite the opposite: As long as there’s an exit, whether abortion or Plan B, what’s the incentive to await mere maturity?
Advocates for lifting age limits on Plan B, including Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, insist that the pill is universally safe and, therefore, all age barriers should be dropped. From a strictly utilitarian viewpoint, this may be well-advised. But is science the only determining factor when it comes to the well-being of our children? Even President Obama, who once boasted that his policies would be based on science and not emotion, has parental qualms about children buying serious drugs to treat a situation that has deeply psychological underpinnings.
What about the right of parents to protect their children? A 15-year-old can’t get Tylenol at school without parental permission, but we have no hesitation about children taking a far more serious drug without oversight?
These are fair questions that deserve more than passing scrutiny — or indictments of prudishness. A Slate headline about the controversy goes: “The Politics of Prude.” More to the point: The slippery slope away from parental autonomy is no paranoid delusion. Whatever parents may do to try to delay the ruin of childhood innocence, the culture says otherwise: Have sex, take a pill, don’t tell mom.
There’s the question of what is the church’s role in all of this. Maybe abstinence-only education is a bad idea, but at times it seems the alternative is just as bad. Do I want Harriet to join the “hookup culture?” I want my kid to have knowledge, but I also want to still be kids and not little adults. What does it mean to be a follower of Christ sexually? Sexual ethics has to be more than safe sex.
Of course, I don’t want to see any girl get pregnant at a young age, but having sex is more than preventing pregnancy. Are the kids emotionally ready? As Parker notes, this isn’t just about science, it’s about emotions and those matter too.
But of course, I’m not a father and I’m a guy. But I still feel like making Plan B so easily handy is forcing kids to grow up way too fast.
Rachel Held Evans asks her fellow progressive Christians to start caring about abortion in light of the Kermit Gosnell case:
It seems to me that Christians who are more conservative and Christians who are more liberal, Christians who are politically pro-life and Christians who are politically pro-choice, should be able to come together on this and advocate for life in a way that takes seriously the complexities involved and that honors both women and their unborn children.
Read the whole thing. It’s a good take on how Christians regardless of their views on abortion should tackle this issue.
A few days ago, I was at a church retreat. In response to a question on what challenges the church is facing, a woman remarked that one challenge is how people don’t really want to get involved in church. They don’t see it as a life, as much as a place where they can get their needs met and be on their way.
I was glad to see someone in the pews notice this. It’s been a growing frustration of mine over the years. Pastors are pushed in many ways to try to make their churches appealing to folk, especially the oh-so-important Millenial crowd. We are told that younger folks are not interested in serving on committees. We are told they want to do mission. We are told they want a church that is welcoming to LGBT folk. So, we try to do everything to try to attract people: we offer more mission opportunities. We push for our churches to be Open and Affirming. We try to make our worship experiences more hip. There is nothing wrong in trying to be hospitable and welcoming. I’m not saying we don’t engage in mission and I most definitely am not saying churches should not welcome LGBT persons. But there is a danger in that we start to trade the call to discipleship, the call of Jesus to follow him and replace it with a slick marketing message in order to gain market share among a certain demographic.
Again, nothing wrong with churches doing marketing; that is my trade. But there is something wrong about replacing the hard message of becoming a disciple of Jesus for an easy message that tries to get people in the pews.
Methodist pastor Ben Godson reminds us that churches need to engage their local communities instead of trying the latest fad:
A biblical mandate says to go into the world preaching, teaching, and baptizing. It says we are to disciple one another in the ways of Jesus. Part of carrying out that mandate is learning the lay of the land and prayerfully discovering how the ways of Jesus can be lived out in a particular context with particular people. Our American, capitalist drive says if certain methods work well in one place, all we need to do is duplicate those methods everywhere and we can franchise the way to be church. In other words, a biblical mandate cares about people first while a franchising mentality cares about methods and results first. Churches of all shapes and sizes can put people first by uniquely and faithfully seeking to engage the communities they are in using the resources they already have. Other peoples’ ideas too often become warmed over leftovers that don’t fit outside of the context they are in. And that’s okay.
Every pastor or church board chair wants to see more people involved in the life of their churches. We are all desiring some kind of trick to make our congregations grow and thrive. Of course we need to make sure we aren’t placing barriers that prevents growth, but we need to have faith that God will cause the growth to happen at a church. What we are called to do is to help those who want to follow Jesus is to help them become better followers of Christ; in short, we need to make disciples.
Discipleship isn’t sexy and it can be slow. It’s not something that people are going to flock to. But I have to think the benefits are longer lasting than having the latest, coolest worship service.
Even as Minnesotans await a big snow (in May?), I get excited around this time of year because it means I get to plant flowers. Now, I am not a great gardener. Actually, I kinda suck. I’m getting better at it and the flowers I planted last year are slowly coming up. This year, I will water the plants, put some more mulch in the garden. There is no shortcut to a good garden, it just takes time.
The same goes with discipleship. It will take time. Some people won’t be interested and that’s okay. But if we want strong followers of Jesus Christ, we will take the time and not be so uptight. We are called to make disciples, not consumers.
Anyone who has read this blog of the years, know that I have a bit of a beef with Progressive Christianity.
While it might sound like I don’t like Progressive Christianity, or that I want to move to a more conservative denomination, let me reassure you, I’m not going anywhere.
The fact is there are many reasons that I like running alongside Progressive Christians. I love their support of LGBT rights. I love their concern for the marginalized. I love that they want to really study the biblical texts. It’s for all of these reasons that I’ve been a part of Mainline/Progressive Christianity for 20 years. This is my home.
And yet, I want to some times scream at my fellow travelers for being self-righteous, hypocritical jerks.
I know this sounds odd, but this is how I feel.
For a while I’ve thought I must be the only guy who feels this way. But I’ve found someone else who feels the same way. I’ve read this person’s blog post and it felt like I was reading my own writing. He explains what bugs him about Progressive Christianity:
I think they make the following linked set of errors about what Christianity essentially is:
- they (in my view) “moralise” the Gospel, turning it into an ethical system or teaching;
- they politicise ethics;
- they reject a theocentric account of the origin, nature and purpose of human existence;
- they have an inadequate conception of the person of Jesus Christ.
Together these flaws turn the good news of our salvation into the bad news of ethical obligation, failure and condemnation. While I share a lot with them I find their teaching to be disastrously humanist and to deny the Gospel. That’s not so terrible in some ways since I don’t think, ultimately, that to be the most important thing, but together with my closeness to them on so many things it goes some way to explain my reactions, which I’m trying hard to control.
The writer then takes each point one by one, so I’m going to share each point and add a few words of my own. First up is moralizing the Gospel:
by this I mean the idea that Jesus’ main work was and is to tell us how to live, to teach ethics. On this account Christianity is a school of philosophy on the Hellenistic model, like the Stoics or the Epicureans, where one learns how to be a good person.
I think there is a tendency to make the Gospel nothing more than about how to live an ethical life. In reading Scot McKnight’s King Jesus Gospel and N.T. Wright’s How God Became King, I’ve been reminded that the four gospels really can’t be read in isolation from the rest of the Bible. It’s easy to ignore that Jesus story is grounded in the story of Abraham and Sarah and the promise of God to make them a great nation. The Salvation story didn’t start in Matthew 1, but in Genesis 12 as God gives birth to a people, the Israelites, who would carry on the salvation story to through the time of the kings and exile and then to one man, a Jew named Jesus. This isn’t the story of how to be good, but a story of how God healed creation; how God brought humanity back into right relationship with God.
Progressives aren’t wrong on focusing on how Jesus crossed racial and ethnic boundaries, how he taught people how they should be loving to others, especially those who are poor. And of course, being a Christian means being Christ-like or like Jesus. But focusing only on those things is really not seeing the whole picture and I think it leads to a rather anemic faith.
Second is the politization of the Gospel:
I don’t deny that Christianity properly has an ethical dimension or consequences. When we respond gratefully to what God has done for us in creation and in our salvation by Christ we strive to live into the Kingdom. What I don’t accept is the characteristic short-circuiting of the work of discerning what this means that associates progressive Christianity with a moralistic left-wing politics.
I became disenchanted with evangelicalism because of its ties to right-wing politics. In joining the mainline church, I thought I was joining a church where Jesus wasn’t a Republican. That turned out to be only half true: Jesus isn’t a Republican, but he most certainly is a Democrat.
I know that sounds harsh, but there is some truth in it. I’ve seen people who rightly denounce the melding of conservative politics with religion, but then don’t bat an eye in baptizing each and every progressive movement that comes their way. If we don’t want faith to co-mingle with politics, then it means not allowing either conservatism or progressivism to take the place of God.
A few months ago, Michael Kruse noted the fact that Progressive Christians were quick to denounce President Bush’s policies, especially those regarding the war on terror. What he found interesting was how many of those Progressives were silent about President Obama’s drone program. Both leaders are doing things that are considered morally troubling, but for the most part only of them received open criticism from progressives. What this and other episodes over the last two decades have taught me is that it is good and right to speak truth to power, so long as the power is one that you disagree with.
Next is the nature of human existence and the role of Jesus:
the key thing here is whether human existence can make any sense outside of a dependant relationship to God. My sense is that much of progressive Christianity has lost confidence in God and has turned to a humanist independence in which God plays little role…
…the mysteries of the incarnation, resurrection and ascension are what enables the restoration of this relationship, broken by our sin. I believe that only God’s action in Christ makes new life possible for us.
My take is that a lot of progressive Christianity is rather deist in nature. God is around, but I never sense God is personal. One of the sayings I was used to hearing in the African American churches of my youth was went something like this: “God woke me up this morning and started me on my way.” Maybe God wasn’t your alarm clock or makes the best coffee, but the statement was saying that God was intimate with us. God wasn’t off somewhere far away, but very near and very present in our lives. The sad thing is that I don’t always sense that from others these days. Heck, I don’t even sense that in my own life these days.
This leads to a related point. Is Progressive Christianity less passionate about God? Do we tend to think our faith and tend to not “feel” our faith. Evangelicalism has its problems, but one of the things I admire is their passion. Faith has to be engaged by the head and this is something Liberal Christians do well. But, it has to be engaged not only with our brains, but with our hearts. That’s where Progressives tend to fall short. There seems at times to be a suspicion of emotion when it comes to faith. Relying solely on emotions can be dangerous, but only engaging the mind leads to a very passionless faith.
Another issue when it comes to deism is the whole “Jesus of History/Christ of Faith” that was made famous by the Jesus Seminar. My issue with this is that it makes two mistakes: it reduces Jesus to a historical figure and then it makes Christ an idea rather than the King who frees all creation. The Jesus of History/Christ of Faith seems to only further keep God distant and out of our daily lives instead of someone who cares about us and is intimate with all of creation.
Our intrepid blogger leaves us with one more irritation:
This brings me to the (possibly) rational element of my irritation. My impression is that progressives tend to think that their Christianity is more mature, more thoughtful, more sophisticated than any alternative. I disagree. I think they haven’t thought it through to the bottom and would do well to spend some quality time with Nietzsche. He would show them that ethics cannot stand alone, that it is self-delusion and hypocrisy. The explicitly or implicitly claimed superiority of the language of “maturity” and “progress” annoys me.
This paragraph comes close to some of the things that have bothered Lillian Daniel. Progressives aren’t the only part of Christianity that thinks they are better, it’s just that they are the ones I have to live with day-to-day and I wish they would just get over themselves. You aren’t all that. Maybe if you go and work with the poor and don’t draw attention to yourself, I will claim you are superior, but until then, wipe that satisfied grin off your face.
This post is hard to write because it affects some good people I know. I’m not looking to slander folks. I like most of what Progressive Christians stand for. But I want to see a more meaty faith lived out by humble and sincere folks who don’t look down on others and don’t come off as smug. I want to believe Progressive Christianity can be better than what it is, I believe it has it within itself to take faith more seriously. I have to believe that.