Yesterday, author Eric Weiner shared his hopes for “Steve Jobs of religion” in an op-ed piece for The New York Times.
It was interesting to me on a number of levels, including his initial point that America has become divided between “True Believers, on one hand, and Angry Atheists on the other.”
In between these two groups, Weiner labels himself and others among the Nones.
“We are the Nones, the roughly 12 percent of people who say they have no religious affiliation at all. The percentage is even higher among young people; at least a quarter are Nones.”
I’m not entirely sure who Weiner includes in the “True Believers” but it in my mind it instantly comes with a lot of baggage as a negative connotation.
And as someone who continues to struggle with the actions of the “moral majority” or True Believers in America I’m not entirely sure where I would fall within that spectrum.
Would I include myself as a True Believer? Would Weiner? Would my friends?
Or would I be better labeled as a None?
You see, my image of the True Believers is that while they often mean well, by proclaiming themselves as THE True Believers they’re doing far more harm than good.
Because in the True Believer’s search for righteousness, they seem far too quick to tell the Nones that they must believe and behave (and often vote) this way or that if they’re to be accepted among the group.
And far too often the Nones are told that True Believers never doubt or question their faith — or the Scriptures it’s based on.
So not feeling the conviction of the True Believers (or the Angry Atheists), many Nones simply float through life looking for a connection point.
And with more and more people not willing to jump on board with a set list of convictions and beliefs, the Nones continue to rise in number.
But I wonder though if, as Weiner suggests, a Steve Jobs figure is what we really need to break down the divisions that separate us.
Sure, Jobs knew how to create efficient systems that attracted large numbers of people – but haven’t we already seen that in our attractional models of church?
I tend to believe that rather than a centralizing Steve Jobs figure (who often took a “my way or the highway approach”), what we really need is an open and distributed model of faith that’s built on the shared needs and experiences of one another.
Rather than seeking out a centralized leader to guide us, lets each realize our own potential to be a priesthood of believers.
Let us seek out those relationships and conversations and build spaces of grace and inclusion all around us.
Let us create spaces where the divisions disappear and there are no Ins, Outs or Haves and Nones.
Especially in this holiday season – let us build interactive spaces (like Weiner suggests) where other ideas and questions are welcomed rather than shunned and where we all take hold of a little humility and get over our certainty.
Let’s sit around the Yule log this season and take the time to really listen to one another, share our stories and get to know one another.
Let’s find common ground and let’s share our traditions while also allowing others to share their traditions with us.
Rob Bell suggests a fairly simple way for this to play out in our conversations with others.
“Do you believe the world needs healing?”
“Great! So do I!”
And suddenly we have all sorts of things in common.
And as we find those common places that unite us, we can begin to discuss the details in a gracious and generous manner.
And perhaps then we can give up our divisive nature and let the Holy Spirit do what she does best.