Mark Sandlin of The Christian Left has a bio on Time.com that is careful to mention he's from the South. He's a bonafide, capital 'S' Southerner from the South. The American South is where I'm assuming he's from. Except, you know, without all the baggage.
Well, Flannery O'Connor is also from the capital 'S' South and one of her stories was the subject of my last post. Obviously Sandlin didn't read it, because if he had he probably wouldn't have written this.[^1]
Collectively we need to more closely follow the lead of Jesus and lovingly confronting [sic] those who want to turn the Prince of Peace into a tool for dividing and marginalizing. Every time anyone tries to exclude a group of people they dislike in the name of the Great Shepherd, we must pronounce the radical inclusion of a loving God.
I mean that's cool. I get what he's saying. I agree that there's a lot about American Christianity that's distasteful. Sandlin isn't exactly using Jesus to divide and marginalize. But he clearly knows who's a sheep and who's a goat,[^2] who's on the top rail and who's on the bottom, and he just wants to lovingly confront people with that, you know?
That's what Christianity is about, right?
Maybe Sandlin appreciates that Christian grace is a full on, balls to the wall, pedal to the metal, mind-bending mystery. But judging by this article published by Time, I don't think he appreciates it very well. For O'Connor—and increasingly for me, as well—grace goes beyond the eschatological vision of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. We can expect our virtues as well as our failings to be burned away by the mystery of grace.[^3] How then will we tell the sheep from the goats?
We are free to define Christianity as Left as opposed to Right, Progressive as opposed to Conservative, Protestant as opposed to Catholic (as opposed to Orthodox). But I have to believe that we would do better to define it by grace and the paradox of faith.
But hey, I'm probably just jealous that Time isn't publishing any of my own half-baked ramblings.
*[^1]: I have a very high opinion of myself. *[^2]: Matthew 25:31-46 *[^3]: Talk about getting rid of baggage.