Recently, Senator Arlen Specter announced that he was switching sides to the Democrats. During his announcement, he talked about how he was in more and more of a disagreement with the Republicans as he felt they had gone to extremes, but he was going to still pursue being an independent thinker and not just a party-line voter for the Democrats. There have been many opinions on Senator Specter’s move. From water-cooler chat, to the talking heads on the news dissecting the alliance change ad nauseum, Senator Specter has been picked apart bit by bit. Despite this, few have actually discussed Specter’s claim that really it was the Republicans that left him and not him leaving the Republicans. I believe Senator Specter and I have a lot in common in that way.
Growing up in a Christian household, I was raised to believe a couple of core truths about Christianity: God created the world in six days, Moses parted the ocean, Jesus loved me and died on a cross to absolve my sins, and for the most part, it seemed that everyone who said they were Christian agreed with these types of statements. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I learned that Christianity had groups labeled "conservatives" and "liberals." It was during a meeting at my campus ministry that one of my friends saw a book stuffed in my book bag that just happened to be a book by a more progressive author. "You know, you really shouldn’t read that book, because he doesn’t love Jesus." Too shocked from the accusation, I simply shook my head in agreement absolutely dumb-founded. For the next two years of my life, "they don’t love Jesus" became the mantra of the Christians I spent my time with.
"Well of course someone who doesn’t love Jesus would be seen with that person."
"I can’t believe that pastor in the news! Why would he bow to the Dali Lama? He certainly doesn’t love Jesus."
These statements always bothered me. Not because they were judging others, but because the things these people (who apparently didn’t love Jesus) were doing didn’t seem too terrible to me. I knew that the people I were with were considered "conservatives" and "fundamentalists." For the most part, it never really bothered me. It wasn’t until I watched a documentary about a Fundamentalist Christian Camp that I became absolutely disgusted with the Fundamental Christians. I didn’t leave conservatism, conservatism had left me behind. I quit the campus ministry I was a part of and ran to the opposite extreme ever so ready to adopt every position the so called "liberal" Christians believe in.
Now that I spend my time with people who "don’t love Jesus," I have found the liberal Christians have judgments as well. It was one evening with friends when two laughed about someone in a class defending doing daily Bible readings. "Can you believe that guy said that? What a fundy!" "Fundy" of course being a less than endearing term for a Fundamentalist Christian. Once again, I found myself unable to believe something like daily Bible readings were a counter-Christian activity. Once again, I found myself not being in the same chord with the people I was with and feeling very moderate, unsure of which camp I belong in if any.
I believe that God would like us to read the Bible regularly, but I also believe that God would like us to feed the hungry everyday as well. I believe that God would like us to have strong families, but I also believe that sometimes circumstances force us to make the best out of what we have. I believe that the pastor who flies rainbow flags outside his church prays and worships to the same God that the pastor who spends every Sunday arguing Bible inerrancy prays to. I believe that the God who loves the people who rigorously defend the Second Amendment is the same God who loves the people who rigorously defend Roe versus Wade. Finally, to those out there who agree with me, I quote the song by Steelers Wheel, “I guess I’m stuck in middle with you.”