A reader writes: YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR!

A reader writes (Note: profanity alert, irony alert):

Damn you Brian McLaren (because it is easier and more convenient to blame you than God),
I have preached the most difficult sermons the last month. We have gone there. Gone there with race–looking instead of out there, examining ourselves and how racism infects us. How it has infected the systems we participate in.
Your book We Make the Road by Walking has been more than prophetic–but it has been God sent. I could not have planned for the texts to line up the way they have, yes, with our national conscience, but also with what is happening in the life of our congregation.
Four weeks ago, the message is Spirit of Love: Loving Neighbor. This comes the same week as our marriage polity changes in PC(USA) from marriage being between a man and a woman, to between two people. Through the leadership of our session, we were now in the third week of a book study on The Bible’s Yes to Same-Gender Marriage. So our passage on loving neighbor is Acts 10 that includes “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” And then concludes, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean…While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. And coincidentally, this is the Sunday that we were baptizing the son of a new gay couple that had recently started coming to our church. Wow. My illustration this week was the police brutality at the pool in McKinney, Texas. I had heard an interview this same week on NPR where the person said something to the affect that at the heart of the struggle of equality, we find the image of a pool. And a pool magnifies and amplifies our greatest fears because of the vulnerability of water that touches me is water touching you. Think about this in the context of baptism? Again, wow. And then the intimacy and powerful image of the love of two moms standing up front as we baptized their precious son.
And so the next week is the week of the Charleston shooting. And we went there–talked about combining loving our neighbor with truly loving ourselves. And we spoke of systemic racism and how it is wrong that not only are we in a world–but in a church where my sons have an advantages over so many of our youth simply because they are white male. And this fit so well in your chapter on loving self–and our narrative that can lend to this being self-centered and about self-interest.
I am not done being pissed at you yet. The next week is Spirit of Unity and Diversity. I focus on John, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” And this is the Sunday we have another beautiful baptism of another new family, and this one from Togo. You can’t make this shit up. We had more in church this Sunday than in Easter.
But this week, now you have gone to far. James 5–really? Have to admit, almost skipped this one. But thankfully I have an administrator who challenged me saying, “I have never known you as one to skip the hard stuff.” We have openly been talking about race, sexuality, and then I open up to this text: “Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.”
Dammit Brian! Thank You.

If others would like to embark on a year of grappling with the Bible in all its amazing challenge and relevance, I hope they’ll consider using We Make the Road by Walking.
Here’s what it looks like for the 2015-2016 year.