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Seeing life, and Teletubbies, through our 'God lens'

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  • U.M. Cornet
    Seeing life, and Teletubbies, through our God lens March 24, 1999 News media contact: Thomas S.. McAnally*(615)742-5470*Nashville, Tenn. 10-21-71B{159} A
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      Seeing life, and Teletubbies, through our 'God lens'

      March 24, 1999 News media contact: Thomas S..
      McAnally*(615)742-5470*Nashville, Tenn. 10-21-71B{159}

      A UMNS Commentary
      by Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher

      Except for news programs, I do not watch much television. I first
      learned of the Teletubbies from my friends who are grandparents, as they
      discussed gifts they were giving their grandchildren. When in a
      bookstore recently, I glanced at the Teletubbies books on display.
      Teletubbies are attractive, soft, cuddly creatures. I can see how
      children delight in them.

      I did notice in my brief review that one of the Teletubbies is purple
      with a triangle on its head. I chuckled to myself. "Well, finally.
      One of the Teletubbies is a bishop!"

      The episcopal color is purple. Bishops wear amethyst rings. Our
      liturgical shirts are purple. The purple Teletubby is taller than the
      rest. "Ah! Appropriate stature for a spiritual leader," I thought. And
      the purple Teletubby had a triangle on its head. "The Trinity!" My
      assumption was cinched when I learned that the purple Teletubby carries
      a bag. "A woman bishop!" my inner voice exclaimed with a sense of
      elation.

      You can imagine my surprise when Jerry Falwell announced to a CNN news
      audience that the purple Teletubby is gay. He said its purple color and
      its triangle are symbols of the gay liberation movement. He went a step
      further than I did by implying the manufacturers intentionally created a
      gay character as an effort to influence children's attitudes toward gay
      and lesbian persons.

      This is not a statement about sexual orientation. It is a statement
      about assumptions and how they influence our vision. The Rev. Falwell
      and I, looking at the same reality, came to two very different
      conclusions based on the assumptions we carry in our heads.

      I am not suggesting that one of us was right and the other wrong. What
      I am suggesting is that all of us see reality from a lens ground with
      all the experiences, ideas, and feelings we have ever had - all the
      words ever spoken to us, all the environments in which we have lived,
      and all the values we hold dear. The way we view each moment is shaped
      by the history that brings us to the moment.

      Part of the reason we Christians pray, read scripture, come to the
      Lord's table, Christian conference, fast, worship, and participate in
      acts of mercy is to allow our lens of assumptions to be ground into a
      God lens. St. Paul calls it seeking the mind of Christ.

      In those moments when such a shift occurs, our God view transcends our
      assumptions and leads us to an overarching context of compassion and
      justice for the common good..

      Intentional and disciplined growth in faith leads us Christians to
      decision-making from God's view. I pray we are serious about our
      growth. Our human family depends on it..

      # # #

      *Christopher is bishop of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference
      which covers the central and southern portions of the state. Her office
      is in Springfield.
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