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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Identity

I sometimes think identity is almost a casualty of postmodern life. As old truths and social constructs fade and lose their luster in the face of new questions and viewpoints, perhaps it is natural for humans to feel less confident about who we are and what our purpose is. In truth, however, what is going on is probably less a loss of identity than a shifting of self-understanding. The difference matters a great deal.

To illustrate this point, we can probably look at almost any social grouping and see how its sense of identity has changed over the last 50 years. If we look at the family for example, mothers, fathers, children, teens, young adults, grandparents, great-grandparents all see themselves quite differently than did their counterparts in 1961. Life has changed, and with it, our sense of who we are and our role within our very own nuclear families. Just because those understandings are different, however, does not mean they are any less significant; in fact quite the opposite may be true. For instance, Mother’s role (or Grandma’s for that matter) may have shifted from cookie baker to bread winner, but her role within the family is certainly no less important.

Like all aspects of life, our faith communities are also undergoing changes in identity. In my childhood, claims of “exclusive truth” were common; we were right and you were wrong! The self-scrutiny that followed those years was often highly uncomfortable, sometimes painful and even embarrassing to some. Slowly but surely, however, we are coming to see ourselves and our religious identity differently. Arguments concerning how the Pentecostals or the Presbyterians are wrong have stopped. We are learning to value not only the contribution of other Christians but the spiritual nourishment all world religions bring to the inter-faith banquet. Instead of having our own, exclusive little table and eating by ourselves, we now bring our spiritual food to share with the larger, world community and invite others to do the same. What we must realize is that we do have some healthy, wonderful, and delicious food to share.

From a church that eats alone to a church that invites all to come a great inter-religious banquet; what a wonderful shift in our identity that would be!

This blog dedicated to Encounter World Religions, and to the pioneering work of J.W. Windland.
Posted by Carman

2 comments:

  1. I am truly grateful to J.W., not only for his work with Encounter World Religions, but also for the many ways in which his ministry has impacted my life and allowed me to embrace the inclusiveness for which our church is becoming known.

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  2. Thank you Anonymous; I really appreciate your comments. J.W. has truly done important work, and made a tremendous contribution to our collective understanding of the human spirit and its search for the Divine.

    Sometimes we do not realize what a special treasure and blessing we have until it is gone. As J.W. moves closer to his planned retirement, I hope we can let him know how much he means to us, and how much we value his work.

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