The “forces of conservatism” are always alarmed


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“What appeared to be the devil himself – with the head of a man and the body of some unknown creature – was flying down the hill towards them, skimming low over the ground. They whipped their horses and fled, while the devil plunged off the road and into a flooded ditch.”

We have three of the “bodies of some unknown creature” in our garage.

“The bicycle continues to empower young women today … The bicycle ushered in a manufacturing revolution as well as a social one … And it is not absurd to suggest that bicycles are pointing the way yet again … given that the bicycle is still often the quickest way to get around gridlocked areas.”
Why the bicycle’s future looks bright, BBC News, Business

Before the internet and google I used to spend hours messing around with bits of bikes. And now our (internet and google-enabled) son spends a small fortune on carbon-fibre-tech-riddled-two-wheeled “bikes”.

“The bicycle was a liberating force for women. They needed to shed their whalebone girdles and hoop-reinforced skirts in favour of something simpler and more comfortable. They would ride without chaperones, too. The forces of conservatism were alarmed, fretting that “immodest bicycling” would lead to masturbation, even prostitution. But these protests soon seemed laughable.”

The “forces of conservatism” are always alarmed.

Take the bible.

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We did away with slavery.  But bacon is okay.  We did away with negative miracles like all that killing and “indigenous peoples cleansing”.  But keep the positive miracles of healing those with disabilities (if they have faith).  We maintain that same-sex sex is not okay.  But allow divorce and remarriage (if the secular laws are fulfilled).  We did away with the temple industry and replaced it with … Let’s pass on that one.

But no more than I yearn for the penny farthing: “ … which was not the genteel vehicle we imagine through the sepia tint of nostalgia. Courtesy of the enormous front wheel, it was a racing machine – twice as fast as a velocipede. It was ridden almost exclusively by fearless young men, perched on top of a five-foot wheel and prone to pitching forward at the slightest obstacle.”

Neither do I yearn for the “cumbersome conservatism” of a “qualified in God approved bible”.  A cumbersome conservatism called “being scripturally and biblically correct”.  Because that “correctness” changes just as cultural changes change “correctness”: “The forces of conservatism were alarmed, fretting that “immodest bicycling” would lead to masturbation, even prostitution.”

The “forces of conservatism” are always alarmed.

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God Soft Hands Jesus always challenges our preference for “conservatism” … “We are naked”so why hide in the bushes? … “We have seen it written”but I say …  “I do all this shit religion commands me to” you are close but not close enough … “These guys and gals are unclean”you look good on the outside, but on the inside … ? … “When will you come back and save us from this horrible sinful world – us who have given you everything – we who believe – we who give our lives for you”why worry about all that “stuff”?

I remember a bike from my younger days.

Three or four of us set off on an expedition.  We cycled miles.  Up hills and own hills.  With traffic and without traffic.  On main roads and country lanes.  Our parents allowed us. Our parents freed us.  And with our bikes we freed ourselves.  Partway through that day the pedal on one side of my bike fell-off.  Not a repair that could be done miles from home.  I remember just going at a slower pace.  Using the stem of the missing pedal.  Using the other side more than before.

My “disability” didn’t curb my freedom.  I needed no “healing” to be free.  I was not “unclean” and isolated from my friends.  I might have lagged back a little (and then caught up when going downhill).  I might have needed to rest more frequently (and I was very glad when we got home).  But …

I remember that bike journey to this day not for the “disability” but for the freedom and fun we all had – that I had – that our parents allowed – that this basic bike with bits unfit for purpose gave me.

The bible isn’t perfect because (even if it is the “Word of God” and whatever elaboration of inerrancy you wish) it is written by and for humans who are (mostly) unfit for purpose.

And yet this flawed and argued-over bible … ?

If I “shed (my) whalebone girdles and hoop-reinforced skirts cultural biblical correctness in favour of something simpler and more comfortable … “

I Am

Free.

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6 thoughts on “The “forces of conservatism” are always alarmed

  1. I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with your wide brush stroke on conservatism as I consider myself religiously conservative. There are flavors of conservatism, just as there are flavors of liberalism. To take your view to the other side, liberalism pushes God’s boundaries, without his approval. Marital relations outside of marriage. Anything goes so long as it feels good, God’s commandments are just guidelines, not rules. Do what you want, when you die God will welcome you into heaven regardless of what you’ve done down here. God probably doesn’t exist, but if he does he won’t care that you didn’t believe in him, he’ll let you in anyway. Jesus didn’t really mean only a few will be accepted, only those following the narrow path, any direction you take is fine.

    There are good and bad (from God’s viewpoint) on both sides. Neither is strictly bad, neither is always good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, My honest (and short) answer is that I don’t know – that none of us “know” the answer to almost everything. My “beliefs” have changed and continue to change.

      (and some long answer thoughts)

      “Anything goes” is certainly the other end of the scale and and might even push “God’s boundaries” if … the bible is inerrant.

      Yet Jesus challenged the “Old Testament” (to delve into the same bible we read today). And he might have challenged the bits we think worth challenging. And he might have upheld the bits we think worth upholding. Except the bible – inerrant or not – has been the object of constant manipulation and political editing before and then and after. And we seem to prefer all of that to not be relevant. For the bible to be something we can hold like a lifebelt in a choppy sea. Dependable. Safe. Predictable. Unchanging.

      And that is (no longer) the bible I know and love.

      I think (now) that “walking on water” might (or not) have actually happened. But the imagery is so very “now”. That we do not “need” the bible to walk in faith. We do not need to worry about God’s boundaries. We do not need to worry whether all those “non-believers” might end up sitting next to us “believers” in heaven (or not). All of that “stuff” is exactly what the wonderfully despised Pharisees worried about. Just they were honest about it. Unconditional Love was not their worry – earning a place in heaven was.

      And the bible I know and love challenges that as it challenges our imposed definitions today of God’s boundaries – our easy leap to the other end of the scale to dismiss a challenge – all that defence of my beliefs over yours. Simply because of one overriding belief that has grown in me over the years –

      That when I get to see my Maker he will NOT tell me I should have loved less. Nor will he tell me that I should have known his boundaries for inclusion. Or that I should have done – or been this – or that – or even the other. He made me who I am.

      All I have to do (I believe) is to be confident enough of me in his creation to be freely and wholeheartedly who I am: love without condition (or worry).

      (and as for the other end of the scale – for “screwing others without conscience” … if that is to be used as an example of “unconditional love” – forgive me for pointing out it is a “straw-man” argument – an example created only to be knocked down – and not about love without condition at all.

      It’s what the wonderfully dismissed Pharisees did all the time)

      🙂

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      • (and as for the other end of the scale – for “screwing others without conscience” … if that is to be used as an example of “unconditional love” – forgive me for pointing out it is a “straw-man” argument – an example created only to be knocked down – and not about love without condition at all.

        I would like to point out that I never used the words, nor the intention of saying, “screwing others without conscience”.

        My entire point is that you cannot paint either side with the broad brush you did with conservatives. That “There are good and bad (from God’s viewpoint) on both sides. Neither is strictly bad, neither is always good.” (actual quote from my post) Jesus spoke and taught about loving God and each other, that was the gist of his message, and I have seen plenty of hatred spouted from the right and the left, from the conservative and the liberal. He said nothing about only loving one side but not the other. He did say to love your enemy as well as your neighbor. Of course, if you toss out the Bible the, I suppose, you can toss out anything you dislike. Jefferson did that when he created his own version of the NT.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you. No intention here to offend (or fight). Simply an alternative view. But a sensitivity on my side (as I seem to have found on yours) – and that is this “conditional” element to religion, theology and faith. That the “saved” must first fulfil certain conditions for saving to actually take place. And then – once saved – the unconditional love happens.

          And as for throwing around quotes … “To take your view to the other side, liberalism pushes God’s boundaries, without his approval. Marital relations outside of marriage. Anything goes so long as it feels good, God’s commandments are just guidelines, not rules. Do what you want, when you die God will welcome you into heaven regardless of what you’ve done down here. God probably doesn’t exist, but if he does he won’t care that you didn’t believe in him, he’ll let you in anyway. Jesus didn’t really mean only a few will be accepted, only those following the narrow path, any direction you take is fine.”

          As an argument for conservatism I struggle with that “defence”. It is a straw-man intended to say the alternative is bad – and concludes that conservatism is good… Albeit both painted with a broad brush 🙂

          (and if that was not your point why write it?).

          For me – when it comes to love – “anything goes” most certainly does not. Kindness is the only default in all circumstances and all environments. The “being of love” just is. And yes – love can be fierce – but always of love. And that “being” requires more self-discipline than any commandment.

          But more than, for me, it goes beyond “conditional saving” and “conditional love” (leading to God’s unconditional love). Love is – and always will be. The rest is our guesswork (and comfort blankets).

          You prompted this morning’s post – and you clarified for me why I believe what I believe (at this point in my journey). Thank you! 🙂

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          • As an argument for conservatism I struggle with that “defence”. It is a straw-man intended to say the alternative is bad – and concludes that conservatism is good… Albeit both painted with a broad brush 🙂

            “Straw-man” defense is a leftish attempt to put down the other person by denigrating their argument. I made no such claims that conservatism is good and liberalism is bad. If you read my response I said:

            “My entire point is that you cannot paint either side with the broad brush you did with conservatives. That “There are good and bad (from God’s viewpoint) on both sides. Neither is strictly bad, neither is always good.”

            But, you seem to purposefully ignore that, instead building your straw-man argument that liberalism is good and, thus, anything that opposes it is, ipso-facto, bad. My point is, was, and always will be, that there are good and bad opinions/thoughts/theologies on both sides; neither is always right, neither is always wrong. You pointed out what you dislike about conservatism, I simply pointed out that there are things wrong on the liberalism side as well. Unconditional Love is not thoughtless love. It is not people walking around an airport handing out flowers and saying, “you are loved.” If you don’t take the time to understand the person, to really know them, then you cannot really love them. God loves us because he understands us. Jesus loved even the Pharisees, but that did not mean he was going to let them go about with their false beliefs. He could say, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” because he knew and understood them.

            Like

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