Picking Your Battles (Part 3)

So now we end the trilogy and we pray that it ends better than almost every trilogy ever produced. May it go the way of Frodo and not the way of Neo. If you have not read the others, here is a very short review (or you could just stop being lazy and read the other two):

Whether we know it or not, our churches, parents, and culture, have given us ways of holding to our beliefs. My tradition, and many traditions at the conservative end of the Christian faith, teach what I call a “flat value system” where we do not learn how to be wise about picking our battles but instead believe that all of our beliefs are equally worth fighting for – often at the expense of the person with whom we are speaking/fighting. But I have changed. Instead of viewing my beliefs like a house of cards (flat value system – take one card and the whole thing falls down) I have come to view them as a game of tether-ball, with only one centering pole.

With that said, this is an addendum. But, for me, a beautiful addition to the picture of picking your battles. This series of posts were actually inspired by part of my presentation given at Soularize last week. And while there are many strengths to the metaphors of a game of tether-ball and picking battles, there was one weakness. It is so combative. It is great to play games, but there is still the spirit of competition. There are still winners and losers. Battles still imply death and destruction, the victor and the defeated.

The day after my presentation at Soularize, Enrico, a wonderful Catholic man who was in my workshop and has only been a Christian for a very short time said to me, “I have been thinking a lot about your tether-ball metaphor. It is has really helped me understand how to think about my beliefs. But maybe I can make it better. Perhaps a better metaphor is the maypole.” And I stared at him blankly and said, “Yeah…um, what’s a maypole?” And he said to look it up when I got home. And I did. And I actually teared up a little.

Enrico my friend, you are absolutely right. And so, while I think that for now my faith is a game of tether ball, I long for the day when it will be a celebration, a diverse and wonderful celebration of the new life that comes from our Maypole.*

*Interestingly, though not explicitly Christian, it is often used in festivals on May Day (new life) and Pentecost (new spiritual life). By the 17th century in England it was also an important symbol and tool for bringing local communities together.

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