I wonder about the way labels are used sometimes, even among Christians, for name-calling, aka soft scapegoating. The words “Liberal” and “Fundamentalist” are now no longer usable outside the playground. A while ago I took a vow not to call people names they don't own for themselves. One Southern Baptist I met in the middle east once pointed out to me “where two or three are gathered together, a chicken’s gonna die.” Actually that last comment is about something slightly different, but it's a powerful line.
In this context I was fascinated by a recent comment from Richard Rohr's daily email:
Christianity is the only religion in the world that worships a scapegoat figure as God. It’s really quite amazing that we worship a visible victim rather than an apparent victor. (Catholic art never hid the scandal here!)PS — Plea (probably fruitless) to the playground: Please let us not do to the term “Orthodox” what has been done to “Liberal” and “Fundamentalist.” It is the chosen designation of those who live within the original expression of Christianity, an ancient, vibrant and resonant tradition. It deserves more noble use than as readymix filling for other people’s custard pies.
In worshiping the scapegoat, we should gradually learn to stop scapegoating, because we could be utterly wrong, just as “church” and state, high priest and king, Jerusalem and Rome, the highest levels of power were utterly wrong in the death of Jesus. He was the one that many of us call the most perfect man who ever lived, and yet they all missed the point. That should give us some healthy humility about how wrong power can be, and how wrong all of us can be.
If the highest levels of power can be that wrong, then be most careful whom you decide to hate, kill, exclude, and diminish. Power and authority are not always good guides, if we are to judge by much of human history. For many, if not most people, any authority takes away all of their anxiety, and often their own responsibility to form a mature conscience themselves.