One Way?

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It was on a sedan. I don’t think I would’ve noticed it, but the car was driving past the One Way sign posted on Sawyer Avenue – an One Way bumper sticker driving past a One Way traffic sign. What are the odds of that happening?

Sawyer hasn’t always been a one way street. When I moved to town fourteen years ago, cars went up and down this short, park-on-one-side-only connection between Main and High Streets. Residents could turn either way when they left their driveways until the possibility of future fender benders prompted the new directional limitation. There hadn’t actually been any accidents, but their potential was too persuasive to the local officials in charge of such things. For the last eight years, people who call it home can drive up their hilly street, but not down. For better or for worse, uniformity in direction rules.

The past few months I’ve had and heard many conversations about the state of churches, denominations, traditions, and faiths. There’s a shift in the religious world, at least in my Christian corner of it. Fearful voices demand going back to the good old days (read: double down on what is unique about a particular tradition and reject anything that moves in a different direction) or auctioning off any beliefs or practices that could be considered objectionable (read: dilute until there’s nothing even remotely different or possibly in disagreement with any other tradition or faith). Who knows what kind of collisions might occur if anyone takes their faith in a different direction or holds to an ancient, particular religious practice? Uniformity of direction, either enforced separation or the adoption of boring, shallow, anemic version of faith, is a One Way solution. Sure, it may head off future collisions of beliefs and practices. It may be easier to control how individuals and communities live out their faith. But it may very well take away a vital link from our faith homes to what’s going on in this great big world.

I’d rather risk the two way traffic, moving with care and consideration for those going in either direction. I’ll have to yield sometimes, letting others get where they are going ahead of me. Still, it’s a marvelous sight I’ll see while I wait: people coming from different directions, meeting and passing where my home meets the world.

 

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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