Recently on Twitter, Carol Howard Merrit posted a question about the problem of “speaking up” that Progressives seem to have and wondered why. I’ve pondered that question quite a bit over the past couple of days. As an Canadian Anglican, my perspective is likely coloured by the pluralism of the Anglican Church and the much touted politeness of the members of my home and native land, but I have to wonder if part of the fear comes from the (dare I say) overheated political and religious atmosphere of our neighbours from the South which makes for interesting and lively reporting in the media. Controversy is good for ratings, and in a world of sound bites, mis-representation is rife. I don’t think anyone (apart from publicity junkies) would want to get caught up in a media firestorm of publicity. It’s easier and safer to just keep you head down.
This is not to say that we Canadian Christians can’t get into some pretty heated arguments ourselves, but in our context of a overtly secular culture, none of us religious folk have much of a voice, and hence, not much to gain or lose by speaking up. Pronouncements from any religious source are seldom if ever reported on (unless they are totally off the wall) , with the exception of the scandal of abuse, which seems to blacken everyone’s eyes. Most people in Canada are unaware that there is such a thing as a Liberal or Progressive Christian and really don’t care much. Christian is Christian and much of the awareness comes from what we see on American media (scary thought that is).
However, without the media “stirring the pot” we seem to have found a way to co-exist even though we seldom get together. Even though we tend to hang out in our own denominational and ideological ghettoes, there are starting to be times when we have discovered that we can come together around issues of common interest and are learning to set our differences aside to work together. A recent example was a commitment among many of the leaders of faith communities in my fair city to work together to end homelessness.
The separation of church and state is more fully realized here, and because we are seen as irrelevant by media, we’ve had the space to begin to learn how to speak with each other without the interference of the press. We have nothing to lose, the hegemony is long gone, so we have everything to gain. The result is to give space for us to work out how to get along without the need to agree.