That always goes hand in hand with the idea that Christians are persecuted.
Riiight. Which is like, 'Really? Because I've been places where Christians are persecuted. Let's take you to a country right now where they actually are persecuted, and you might say that not being able to pray in school, you might back off on that. You know like a terrorist alert: You might go from orange back down to yellow. You might have to rethink that, because there are people who could tell stories that would make you ashamed for using that word.
Here at the Phoenix we're very on the lefty pinko commie gay-agenda side of things. Do you think there can be a time when the two sides of the culture war reach equilibrium, when the differences become less stark?
Yes. And one of the reasons why is that you have lots and lots of people for whom the categories -- you have lots of moments where the categories don't work anymore. In our church we have some extremely crazy wealthy people who care deeply for the poor. So literally, people with with chauffeurs, who mentor and tutor in unresourced schools down town. Is this conservative, is this liberal, is this Democrat, is this Republican? You know what I mean? Is this pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps? I don't know what this is, but the old categories don't work as well. And a number of the issues that did frame the culture wars -- like, 'Hollywood is only turning out garbage.' Really? You sat through The King's Speech and you think Hollywood is turning out garbage. Even some of the stuff that's lobbed from either side, it doesn't work as well anymore. If you have conservatives going 'Hey, we ought to take better care of the environment,' and you have Democrats going 'Hey, you know that micro-finance thing in India and Bangladesh and Africa, that thing works sort of well!'
Microfinance is conservative?
In my world you have all of these solutions to big problems that blur all of the lines.
In your book you say that God is outside of time, transcendent of time -- I've read great sci fi books with that idea. And on the other hand you're saying that heaven and hell are here. And that's pissing people off, because you won't come out and say there is no other realm that is heaven or hell, you're just saying 'Let's not worry about that so much.'
Well, it's always helpful for me, to start with what's right in front of you. Let's start, we can all agree that millions of people living in substandard housing without access to clean drinking water -- that's kind of a hell. Human denial of basic human needs and rights, that kind of hell. So yeah, I tend to want to start with where we live right now. And then let's be really honest when we start speculating on what might be next. My experience is that lots of people have been taught speculation, but they've been told that it's doctrine and dogma. 'This is how it's going to be' -- you don't know that. So part of it is just a basic reclaiming of the place of humility -- 'WE DON'T KNOW. Here's what our tradition says, here's where the story takes itself, here what a lot of people believe, here's what I affirm, here's what you affirm, here's what so-and-so trusts, here's the most beautiful way you could go.' I like to trust that, because it motivates me to be a certain kind of person in the world now, and I want to be that kind of person.