A Moderate Wall
a blogbook by Brad Duncan
Hello. Hello Church. Hello Christians, like me, in the mainstream protestant culture of Western civilization. I hope that description is specific enough to let you know the target audience, and to let you know that I can use the word "we" when I am talking to people that can relate to me, and to the Christian culture I am referring to. Definitely a big umbrella, but given the huge array of denominational and non-denominational Protestant churches that believe in Jesus and the Bible, I think you know who YOU are - who WE are. We are also called the Church, for our part, but certainly not the entire Church (including Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, etc.), which spans the globe, crosses all cultures, and must include the past, present and future Christians of this world. So, Hello Church, as WE see it through our own cultural and historical lens. Maybe what I describe applies to other branches of the Church, but due to my own limited perspective I really don't know.
In short chapters of what I will call a "blogbook" I want to write for my fellow Christians on this journey, to describe something that I have come to see. Something of a wall. I call it the Moderate Wall. It is the thing we have built out of our belief system and traditions. It certainly serves some good purposes. It makes us what we are. It circles us and surrounds us, helping us to identify with one another, helping us to form the Church that we belong to. Without it (so it seems) the Church would be gone. I would like to take a close look at this wall. What is it made of? What is its purpose?
Aah, there's the word. Purpose. Without purpose, we don't have an identity, do we? And yet with a misguided purpose we could waste what precious time, energy and resources that we have in this world. That is why I am writing. The Moderate Wall defines us, but it also misleads us. It guides us into a purpose of building walls. And that's not much of a purpose at all. Even worse, other things that we try to do and need to do are constrained by the very wall that we've built. I would like to show us all this wall, so we can decide what to do about it. And I would like to explore the idea of a Church with a different purpose than wall-building. I would like to explore why the wall is there in the first place, and what could be built instead that could better serve the purpose of the Church.
Can the Church exist without its wall? Can it find a new purpose other than building walls? Can it function better without a wall than with one? Can something else be built that gives us new direction and new purpose? Explore these questions with me in this blog-based journey.
But First a Parable
To setup the metaphor and complete this chapter, consider this weak attempt at a parable. If you don't like it or can see holes in the plot, then no, I really won't be offended. See if it makes sense to you:
The Parable of the Golden Bricks (by me)
In the land of Urt there was a kingdom called Kog. The people of Kog were at times kind and gracious, and sought to do right, building their kingdom into a place of peace and wholeness. A place where children could grow up nourished. A place where everyone had their place. But like all people, the people of Kog also struggled in every imaginable way. They were threatened by corruption from within and without. They were shaking and afraid, and their fragile kingdom was on the precipice of collapse.
God came to these folks of Kog, and gave them a gift of golden bricks to properly build their kingdom. Each brick, made of heavenly material that was impregnable, was bestowed with the beauty of God, and carried something of the goodness of his character. They represented everything good and strong that could be used to build the kingdom of Kog.
The rulers of Kog met to decide what to build with these golden bricks, and how to use them to save their kingdom from collapse. They decided to build a strong tower to show the beauty of the bricks so that they could be seen throughout all of Urt. They formed bricks of rock and clay from the land of Urt, and built them into the base of a mighty tower. The golden bricks were used to finish the tower, taking it to a mighty point high up in the air. This tower became the greatest symbol in Urt of all that is good and strong.
But while the kingdom of Kog did prosper with their new tower, all that was good and beautiful did not. The tower brought power. The rulers of Kog became strong and wealthy. They became hungry for their own power. By control of the rest of the people who worked the land they made themselves more and more rich. By building armies they took control of all of Urt.
But in time, the armies and the workers failed, and the wealthy rulers could not hold on to the power they had longed for. After some time, the mighty tower of Kog was toppled by wars and battles. The golden bricks lay in piles of rubble. The bricks of rock and clay from the land of Urt lay next to them.
After some time had passed, the people rose up to reclaim their kingdom. Seeing the fallacy of their past efforts, they sought to build something that would truly make Kog a place of beauty and peace, rather than a place where leaders could rise up to become tyrants. They decided to build a wall. They circled Kog with a wall made of the bricks of rock and clay, They
interspersed the golden bricks to add strength to the wall, and to surround their kingdom with the goodness of God who had provided the bricks. The wall represented all that was good and strong. The wall protected the kingdom, bringing order, and allowed the people inside to find peace and happiness.
The kingdom of Kog prospered again with its new wall. Other people of Urt would visit and marvel at it. Families and communities thrived in Kog. The rulers and government were able to lead the people without resorting to tyranny and control. Kog was a place of freedom and order. The wall became of fortress of strength for the people for many years.
But eventually the wall failed, and the kingdom failed. The wall did not prevent the main two problems that plagued the kingdom of Kog, corruption within and without. Inside the wall, turmoil and conflict led to disputes over how to keep the freedom and order in the kingdom. Outside the wall, other kingdoms rallied from time to time and waged war on Kog. The kingdom was besieged, and plagued from within. Eventually the wall was toppled by wars and battles.
After a long and very dark time, new hope arose. The people of Kog once again rose up to build their kingdom. They found the golden bricks among the rubble with the bricks of rock and clay. They had an idea. Instead of building a tower or a fortress, what would happen to their kingdom if they built the bricks into a symbol of peace instead? Since any tower or fortress was doomed to eventually collapse when attacked by enemies, why not resist the problem at its core - why not create peace instead of enemies? How much more could the people of Kog prosper if they used all the strength and beauty of the golden bricks to try to achieve this? Certainly, what harm could come from it? Certainly, the failed experiences of the tower and the wall showed that something different should be done.
So the people built a bridge out of the golden bricks. The bridge rose over the piles of rubble left from the bricks of rock and clay. The bridge connected the kingdom of Kog to the world outside. The bridge was a symbol of peace as well as strength. It welcomed the people of Urt to visit the kingdom of Kog. And come they did. And they brought all kinds of treasure to Kog and helped build it into the most majestic kingdom the people could have imagined. What's more, the people of Urt invited the people of Kog to come out of their kingdom and visit other kingdoms throughout the land of Urt. When they did, they found something amazing. In many places, they found other symbols of peace, like bridges, roads and welcoming statues, and they were all built out of golden bricks! They realized that the kingdom of Kog had in a way spread to all of Urt, and it was a land of peace.