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Clergy opened their ears, hearts to cope with ever-changing world
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In response to Dr. Tom Smiley’s letter on the “Christianity beyond the catch phrases” forum held last week, having attended the forum and listened to the clergy that did participate, I think it is too bad that he chose not to attend and add his voice to the community.

Instead Dr. Smiley pontificates on what he imagines was discussed (not having been there) and has no idea what he missed.

These were my takeaways: Our churches in Gainesville are challenged by a vast number of interactions with the human condition and our ability to cope with the ever-changing world of today. From the Charleston massacre to the new digital age — and yes, to honor the dignity and worth of every human being, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation or any other differentiating feature — all manners of interaction with the faith community are ongoing evolutionary byproducts contrasting the word of God and the evolving human condition.

The Rev. Stephen Samuel of St. John’s Church asked the important question: “How do we build bridges, not walls?” which is a truth statement as I understand the fundamental teaching of Jesus: to love God and love one another as brothers. An open, inviting God, who gave us all life, could never have given any individual or group a monopoly on truth.

Dr. Smiley is correct in the assumption that truth cannot contradict itself, but he fails to realize he has no monopoly on truth, only his own interpretation of the Bible, coupled with the legacy of his experiences, upbringing and predetermined biases. It is unfortunate that he does not care to join a group of varied clergy intent on partaking of mindful discussion on how their churches can best serve the Gainesville community and touch more lives in our area, and states his disdain for the bridges they are attempting to build together.

Getting beyond the catch phrases is exactly how Christians can become the “light of the world.” My intuition tells me the offer of a bridge still stands, sir.

Jason Shreeram


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