It’s often annoyed me when someone has argued that someone needs something to be maintained because of tradition.
I recognise that we all have roots, we all have culture, we all have our traditions. They don’t just have to be religious traditions, they can be the ritual of the pattern in which we get up in the mornings, the enjoyment we get from repeated December toasts with crackers and wishbones.
My problem has been that too many claim that something must be the way it is “because it’s tradition” without thinking about other people’s traditions, about the changes in time and how reaching out and trying new things can result in you finding something that works better.
I always had plain old margarita pizza. Simple, safe, tasty. But I was bold enough at a local restaurant to try a new pizza which has an amazing combination of toppings: BBQ sauce, chicken, cheese, pineapple, and spaghetti. Yep. Not something I’d have thought of and not something I’m sure I would have jumped to, but one day I sat down and I thought, hey, lets try that. Now that pizza has become my new favourite. But that doesn’t mean I wasted the seventeen years previous with margarita pizza, because that was delicious too. In fact, every now and then I revisit margarita, because I still like both flavours.
Now the flavours of the Church are variegated. Most of the time we see that as a negative thing. But I use the word ‘variegated’ deliberately. The definition is: “exhibiting different colors”. And who’s read The Shack?
Mack followed… To walk behind such a being was like tracking a sunbeam. Light seemed to radiate through her and then reflect her presence in multiple places at once. Her nature was rather ethereal, full of dynamic shades and hues of colour and motion. “No wonder so many people are a little unnerved at relating to her”, Mack thought. “She obviously is not a being who is predictable.” …confusing, stunning, and incredibly beautiful.
It seems the beauty of God, the colours of divinity, are indeed variegated. So why do so many people claim in the name of continuous tradition and ignore the traditions of others? Why are so many unwilling to reach out? We must!
“tradition” should carry a holistic sense that conveys the fact that traditions are ongoing with multiple strands that intertwine with many aspects of people’s lives.
– Introducing World Religions, Victoria K Urubshurow
Holistic sense = comprehends the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only be reference to the whole.
When we answer in the name of tradition, we must ask ourselves these questions.
- Am I ignoring the value of other people’s colours?
- Am I refusing to reach out and try new things, afraid and putting myself in an unnecessary box?
- What does this tradition really mean to me?
- What does this tradition really mean to the world?
If we’ve reached out, then reverting back to the margarita pizza is fine. You’ve reached out and tried other things. And now you understand what other flavours are like, and you appreciate that whilst you love the margarita, others may love the pizza with the spaghetti on it. You can share a meal at the table together and rejoice in variegated Life. And that is true communion.
Having different ideas can be hard sometimes. But remember in relationship, that ultimately we are all of the same ‘adamah from Genesis, from the beginning, we are all of the same ground, the same breath, the same dust, the same clay…