Posted by: smstrouse | October 27, 2012

Putting the Protest Back in Protestant

There was a really good article by Diana Butler Bass on the Patheos website last year entitled Putting the Protest Back in Protestant.  And since, naturally, at this time of year, a good Lutheran’s heart turns toward thoughts of Reformation Sunday, I went back and read it again.  Lo and behold, like leftover spaghetti, it’s gotten even better.  Another good piece, from 2010, is an interview with Phyllis Tickle, maven of the emerging church movement: Phyllis Tickle on the Emerging Church

It seems that Reformation has been undergoing a reformation of its own. Time was when October 31 was all about Catholic-bashing (I understand that a good bit of Protestant-bashing went on across town as well). Thankfully we’ve mostly gotten beyond that. Still, Reformation Sunday has tended to be a backward-looking celebration of a historic event, albeit with contemporary implications. Yes, we talk about ‘justification by grace through faith’ (or is it ‘by faith through grace?’) and what that means to the individual believer. But that’s often accompanied by skits about Martin and Katie or dramatic reenactments of nailing the 95 theses onto the Wittenberg Chapel door.

So it’s refreshing to see new movement in the movement.  The best line from Bishop Holmerud’s sermon at our Service of Reconciliation and Healing was after quoting the six defining words from First United’s web site:
Reflective—Open—Passionate—Daring—Playful— Engaged . . .
Being playful himself, he asked, “Are you sure you want to rejoin the ELCA???”  He went on to reflect that these are not words usually heard in descriptions of Lutherans.  Now all you Lutherans might be bristling at that, but ask some folks from outside the church what they know about Lutherans. As one guy said recently to me, “When I think of Lutheran, I think of well, kind of white bread.”  Ouch!

So it’s definitely time to reclaim our roots and get on with the new reformation that Phyllis Tickle likes to talk about.  Part of that reformation involves issues of social justice.  And in the spirit of Lutheran-Catholic cooperation, I suggest that we stand with the ‘Nuns on the Bus,’ and especially protest the abuse they’re taking because of their solidarity with the poor and vulnerable of our society.

But it’s not about just protesting. There’s a re-formation underway in how we think about our place in Creation, especially in light of environmental concerns; in how we think about God, in light of our interfaith relationships; how we do church, in light of the ‘spiritual but not religious’ folks among us.  BTW, here’s another good article: A Church Always Reforming.

You see, Reformation Day can be pretty exciting!  Now I just have to dig out my Katie Luther outfit and see where I stored those indulgences.



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