Fred Plumer's essay, Don't Go There, gives three examples of these "don't go there" places.
The first example is a woman who reamed him out royally in a break out workshop on the second night of a four day conference. Her beef? What he had mentioned briefly the night before in his keynote address...musing about whether Jesus was born of a virgin. Although she was not the least bit put off by some of the other progressive thoughts and actually agreed with him on most, the virgin birth was (as my friend Kathy used to say) a hill she would die on.
The next incident
This time a man, who had attended one of my speaking engagements, caught up with me as I was getting ready to leave. We stood outside by our cars in the cold and talked for twenty minutes. He was completely engaged and amicable until I questioned the need for Jesus to be the one and only unique God in our world. This man got red in the face and said, "Don't go there!" and I didn't. Interestingly, we had talked comfortably about other parts of the Christian story, how they might have come to be and why it was okay to let them go, or simply let them be myth. But for him it was unthinkable to let Jesus only be an enlightened man, a teacher and a prophet. For him, Jesus was God and that was a "don't go there."
And the final incident he talks about was one of his own "don't go there places"
Recently, I was on a conference call with a highly respected seminary president and three other people. As we were discussing the future direction of TCPC, he suggested that one of the things I might want to consider is moving past being an exclusively Christian organization and shift more towards a Unitarian Universal perspective. It was as if the wind had been knocked out of me. At first, I could not respond. Although I didn't say it out loud, my first thought was "don't go there!" When I finally was able to respond, I mumbled, "But I love Jesus." And no one was more surprised by my response than me.
The author's take on this....
.....if we dig deep enough, most of us seem to have a "don't go there" spot in our beliefs and traditions - that place where we lose a little of our otherwise rational thinking. And I suspect that it is often our inability to get past those "don't go there(s)" that holds back our personal growth and change.
Or as he said in the first essay about progressive religions, we must
"let go of the need for dogma or inflexible belief systems" and "learn to move with the flow of the spirit,"
And now, since you can't see me, let me just say that I am wearing my question mark face, shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head. Truth is, I don't know where the line is drawn between faith and dogma...between inflexible belief systems and moving with the flow of the spirit. I don't know...but since the purpose of this blog is not to tell you your answers...but rather to pique your questions, I will leave you with this one...
How do you know which hills to die on?