Why is the idea of exclusivity so attractive? and why does the idea that Heaven might not be exclusive make people so upset?
That is a great question - probably ... well my experience has been for a lot of people religion can easily become about how to manage your own shadow side. So, 'I've got all of these doubts, fears, longings, urges, and lusts I don't know what to do with -- I can just take them and put them on somebody else, or something else. You can raise a ton of money through fear. Probably some of the answer is psychological - some of it is probably rooted in a deep desire for justice; there are very wrong things that go on in the world, dictators that machine gun whole villages of innocent families, and a longing to see justice be brought to these situations. Which is a beautiful desire that we all have to some degree, 'Why can't somebody do something about that?' Unfortunately, that impulse ends up being, 'Annnnd them. And that person. And those people I've never met.' And then it becomes directed against specific people, groups. And away you go. It also, for a lot of people, serious authentic committed faith in Jesus and lets say the exclusivity of Jesus - the moment you present inclusivity and you create space for mysterious love of Christ in the world -- for them, the modern mind wants to eliminate tension. 'So, which is it? Is it everybody, or just him?' So in the book I park myself in that tension and say, 'You can be a committed, deeply serious follower of Jesus, and believe in the single uniqueness of Jesus, and you can also leave all sorts of fantastic room for the wide expansive love of God.
See, you're vague. It's driving people nuts.
-- And those are not mutually exclusive, that is a beautiful tension that you're invited to live in. And tension, for many people, the point of spiritual authority and spiritual leadership is to eliminate tension. Not invite us into it! (laughs) So I think at a sociological level, a lot of people, the way they think about religion is it fixes the tension, not create more tension, my goodness. But even in past eight or nine weeks that the book has been out, lots and lots of people are like, 'Yeah. I've always thought that.' And lots of people who have been in particular pockets literally never heard this, and they hear it -- it's an extraordinarily thing to watch.
A lot of people have written about generational change in this country and the way younger Christians think about gay people and culture -- what would happen if the Christians in this country were more comfortable with pluralism and more comfortable with diversity?
I think that's happening. I think that is happening. And for one thing, the world is changing. You have to work harder and harder to isolate yourself from how the world is. Secondly, if you're really serious about being a Christian your what they call your witness, then, will have to come from something other than just how many words per minute you can fit in, because lots of people are talking, and lots of people have lots of bullhorns. In some ways --there's this whole theory in media that every new technology creates a sort of regression. And even with the first Christians, they weren't called Christians, they were called Followers of the Way. These were people who lived a particular compelling way in the world. If you want credibility, if you want authority, if you want people to listen to you, live in a particular way that is so, sort of countercultural that people won't be able to help but ask, 'Why? Tell me more.' When you have a dominant cultural Christianity, it seduces people into thinking things that really aren't true. Like, that we're a Christian nation. I mean come on.