My college mascot was the Crusaders. When a few of us complained once that we were ashamed to be associated with such a violent and shamefully un-Christian slice of history, the administration answered - oh, but we're not the Crusaders...we're the Crusaders for Christ.
Somehow that was supposed to make a difference.
I never felt good yelling that cheer. If being a Christian meant taking on some kind of violent mantle for the good of the cause, I want nothing to do with it.
Though we don't call them crusades, many people argue that we're in the middle of a crusader-like culture, where a certain brand of Christianity and the world-view that accompanies it blesses violence in order to get the point across. The violence is as large as a war with anti-Islamic overtones; as complex and lamentable as an abortion doctor being shot in his Lutheran church; and as subtle as someone assuming the Jewish students in her class are rich.
Crusades bless violence. Jesus did not.
Last night I met with some of the college students from our church. We're going to meet every Wed night at 9:00 pm throughout the summer.
Among other things we'll explore what it means to be Christian in a world where people you live with, your best friends and in some cases, some of your family members, aren't.
This question comes up all the time around here. Adults and kids are asking it in various forms It came up in President Obama's speech about US relations with the Muslim world yesterday. It will come up tonight when high school students from our church, working with an inter-faith group of kids,will put on a production about Peace in the Mid East called West Bank Story. It just came up in a casual pastoral conversation with one of our church leaders. And it came up yesterday in an inter-faith conversation about the environment.
I can't imagine we'll get to the bottom of anything in the Wed night discussions, but I hope we will be able to grow in our own faiths while also growing in our ability to love and respect others.