Prairie View

Monday, November 30, 2020

Who I Thought We Were

The “We” in the title refers primarily to the people I go to church with.  In the spirit of the season, I am choosing here to omit some of the negative things I believe are true also.  If I ever compile a negative list, I'm positive that it will be much shorter than this one is. While the list is being compiled during the pandemic, I believe who we have become culturally and spiritually happened over a period of many decades, and even centuries.  My forebears have lived in Kansas since 1883.  Much of what is listed here could also have been said of them, I believe.  

I can imagine that a few people who are also part of our church might say after reading this list I don’t think this is who we are anymore.  They might be right.  Admittedly, some of the thoughts that eventually spilled onto the screen were prompted by consternation and even disbelief at what I've observed recently.  Formulating this list is partly an effort to identify what is right about who we are or were in order to make necessary corrections in places where we have strayed from what is "right."

I wrote by far the biggest portion of this list in one sitting, and added a few items in two more time slots before Thanksgiving.  Only a few were added more recently.  I’m just as surprised as you are at the size of the list.  The items are written in the order I thought of them.  Coming out of an ADD brain, this order looks pretty random, because it is.

I’d love to hear your reactions in the comments–either about a specific item or a general comment or a comment on this congregation-specific list or your own situation.


1. People who believe in the power of suffering love to bring about significant and lasting change in the world–as modeled by Jesus.

2.  People who understand that political power is fundamentally at odds with the power of suffering love.

3.  People who stand firm on the basics of Christian faith while extending grace to all.

4.  People who respect our authorities.

5.  People who promote the “common good.”

6.  People who share generously with the needy.

7.  People who alleviate the suffering of others.

8.  People who believe that our witness is important.  

9.  People who believe that surrender to God and the church is important.

10.  People who regard our citizenship in the Kingdom of God as our primary identity.

11.  People who identify as pilgrims and strangers on the earth.

12.  People who want to be identified as being separated unto God.

13.  People who are willing to be identified as members of a specific Christian brotherhood.  

14.  People who welcome anyone from anywhere into our church services. 

15.  People who extend special favor to the weak.

16.  People who adjust as needed in times of adversity, rather than rage against the adversity.

17.  People who recognize sin and evil and want no part in it.

18.  People who treasure the “right of appeal” but hold other rights loosely. 

19.  People who are sympathetic to others who suffer–because we remember the suffering of our spiritual ancestors.

20.  People who love corporate worship.

21.  People who love discussing Scripture together.

22.  People who love to share ordinary life with others in the church.  

23.  People who honor each other in the brotherhood.  

24.  People who understand the importance of repentance, confession, and restoration when wrongdoing occurs.

25.  People who seek forbearance when they become aware of unintentional mistakes.

26.  People who are ready to do the right thing even if no authority has provided a directive for it.  

27.  People who accept the Word of God, the life of Jesus, and the witness of the Holy Spirit as the primary guides for life.

28. People who also accept the factually-based and faith-tradition-informed counsel of the brotherhood as trusted guides for life.

29.  People who trust each other on the basis of a shared commitment to being in fact who we claim to be in name.

30.   People who are not greedy, and who do not seek their own profit at others’ unfair expense. 

31.  People who see obedience to authority as evidence of respect.

32.  People who live in a patriarchal society, with the elements of provision, protection, and guidance being in evidence on the part of men. 

33.  People who act intentionally and deliberately–not hastily or thoughtlessly.

34.  People who interact kindly with others–in word and deed.

35.  People who know that being a Christian always involves “persecution” of some kind (offenses will come), for which God extends grace.

36.  People who know that deserved punishment is not persecution.

37.  People who pray for others.

38.  People who cultivate a private spiritual life through regular Bible reading and prayer.

39.  People who prefer to settle conflicts in the brotherhood internally rather than through outside intervention.

40.  People who recognize that we are a blessed people.

41.  People who respect others who have more knowledge than we have.

42.  People who welcome enlightenment through learning.

43.  People who respect tradition.

44.  People who value forthrightness.

45.  People who value all human life.

46.  People who value strong family ties.

47.  People who value resourcefulness.

48.  People who see the value both of bearing one’s own burdens, and bearing the burdens of others.

49.  People who value contentment more than having all our wants supplied in order to maintain appearances.

50.  People who value moderation in all things that are neutral in themselves.

51.  People who extend forgiveness for wrongs done against us.

52.  People who strive to live transparent, consistent lives.

53.  People who invite inspection of their own lives.

54.  People who admonish each other.

55. People who are frugal in their purchasing habits and careful to avoid waste.

56. People who are uncomfortable with ostentation.

57. People who value self-sufficiency. 

58.  People who affirm both the importance of personal responsibility and group harmony. 

59.  People who avoid confrontation whenever possible.

60.  People who see self-control as a virtue.  

61.  People who frown on self-promotion.

62.  People who are happiest when they are able to move about in public without attracting undue attention.


  • This list resonates deeply with me. It's a rich resource and one I'll come back to in the future. Thank you for articulating it so well.

    By Anonymous Ellis, at 12/02/2020  

  • Ellis, thanks for this comment. I especially like that it comes from one who knows.

    By Blogger Miriam Iwashige, at 12/02/2020  

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