Non-Traditionally Traditional or Traditionally Non-Traditional

We throw around the terms.



They carry extensive resume’s attached to them. When we say traditional visions of straight-lacedness dance…I mean…don’t dance in our heads. We think of orderliness and finishing on-time and the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Conversely, when we say non-traditional we think of radical natures, “out-of-the-box,” differing processes.

Okay, I admit! I think that!

It occurs to me, however, that each one of us—every one of us—is a mixture of traditional and non-traditional. Both camps of people are ready to throw something at me at this moment, so hear me out.

I love to drink a good cup of coffee in the morning. Diana says that she could stand a straw up in the midst of a cup of the coffee I brew because it’s so strong. Wimp! (Smaller font so she doesn’t see it.) When it comes to coffee I’m a traditionalist. Recently I was at Pike’s Perk Coffeehouse to get my mug filled. There was light roast, medium roast, dark roast, de-caffeinated (“What’s the point?”), and French Vanilla flavored. I usually get medium roast. Flavored coffees just don’t appeal to me. That could be because I started drinking coffee back in my seminary days when “flavored” meant that you had dipped your donut in the cup. I learned to drink coffee a certain way, and French Vanilla, or Snickerdoodle, or Swiss Chocolate, or, Amaretto is just too outside of my tradition.

On the other side of my preferences, however, is my preference to drive a hybrid car. “This is not my dad’s Buick…or Ford…or Chrysler!” My parents have always driven cars that have traditionally been thought of as having been made in America. Call me a radical, but our family owns three Hondas and I’ve gone to the hybrid car. For right now it’s still seen as being non-traditional, although the day is coming….

Henry Ford was seen as being non-traditional at one point!

We bring those labels of “traditional” and “non-traditional” into our spiritual lives, and especially into our congregational lives. Depending on where you place yourself, it’s easy to see someone who is in a different place then you as being messed-up.

“Alex hates praise music. He’s very…traditional!”

It’s said like the person has an illness.

“Alex hates Pepsi. He’s…diabetic!”

Or “Alex does not care for our 10:30 worship service. He’s very…non-traditional.”

I’m a hybrid. I’m a mixture. We’re all hybrids. Just when I think I’m a non-traditionalist I make a batch of popcorn on Sunday night, because when I was growing up my family always made popcorn on Sunday nights and watched the Ed Sullivan show together on TV. Just when I think I’m a traditionalist I find myself reading a book by Leonard Sweet like The Gospel According to Starbucks or Thomas Friedman’s book The World Is Flat.

Just when I start thinking “normal,” I look at some of my “Far Side” cartoons.

We’re all messed-up, but we’re also all “mixed-together.” Christians more often than not use labels to create separation than a unique kind of unity. We allow our preferences to irritate us about someone who has a different preference.

After all, if everyone was like me there would be a lot less arguments!

And if you thought I was serious in that last sentence, you obviously haven’t realized that I am a non-traditional humorist!

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2 Comments on “Non-Traditionally Traditional or Traditionally Non-Traditional”

  1. Katie Says:

    Hey, I like that! I’m a non-traditional traditionalist!

  2. Diana Says:

    Excuse me, but it wasn’t in smaller font when you posted it! I read it easily! We’ll talk! :0)

    You are right…. Just as we each have different personalities, we have different mixtures of what is traditional and non-traditional. And even with that, we each have our own ideas of “good” traditions/non-traditions and “bad” traditions/non-traditions.

    That is what makes the family of God so amazing! With all our differences, when we focus on God, we can become one and move in His direction.

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