This gospel is beloved among Christians.
- It is a comforting passage often included in memorial services for our deceased.
- It is the foundational passage for an amazing junior high retreat in Arizona that I volunteered.
And yet, this scripture troubles me despite Jesus beginning with ‘do not let your heart be troubled”.
This ‘trouble’ begins with a young, elementary aged Melinda, whose only schoolmate friend was raised by divorced parents. Her father was Roman Catholic and her mother had converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church). We would compare and contrast the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Mormons. At that point, I should have known I would be blessed, perhaps cursed, with a passion for religious studies.
Then, my under-graduate field was Religious Studies. Religious Studies is a relatively recent academic field in its current form, which is composed of:
- Establishing methods for the academic study of religion and religious traditions, as objectively as possible, whether Christian or non-Christian;
- Exploring theories about the definition, origin, and purpose of religion; and
- Comparing of religious traditions, as objectively as possible, through their core teachings, rituals, and histories.
This academic study of religion is a compilation of academic fields, including anthropology, psychology, and sociology.
Then, my graduate education was at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, a member of the Graduate Theological Union composed of multiple Christian Seminaries and non-Christian centers of study.
Thus, I have and continue to craft an intellectual and spiritual life rooted in the fertile soil of religious studies and diverse understanding. This is the foundation for my trouble with our passage. Read the rest of this entry »