Loving Those People

Easter 5, Year C

John 13:31-35

She stood outside of the meeting room, a cigarette in hand–crying.  This was a weekend spiritual retreat, a time of renewal, but for this woman it was clearly painful, even degrading.  My wife approached the woman and asked what was wrong.  “I’m Baptist,” she said, “and everyone is just saying such bad things about us.”  The retreat was put on by the Episcopal Church and this being a southern Episcopal gathering “Baptist bashing” is bound to be the common sport.  The Baptist are the dominant denomination in the region, often conservative brands.  Many in the Episcopal Church grew up in Baptist churches or similar denominations and they consider their new status as Episcopalians to be an enlightened escape.  So they take cheap shots, ridicule the Baptists and feel self-satisfied.

The flipside occurs of course.  I migrated into the Episcopal Church from a world that found it unimaginable that either Episcopalians or Catholics were even followers of Jesus.  The Episcopalians were clearly apostate sinners who didn’t read the Bible.  The Roman Catholics were not really Christians since they didn’t believe in the Bible and they worshiped Mary.  I think it is fair to say that every Christian group or denomination has its Christian “other” that can be made the object of exclusion.   Read more