Certain favorite bloggers of mine have taken up the assignment of blogging 31 days in a row (#write31days), and in an attempt to re-galvanize my own writing, I decided to join in the fun. The idea behind this particular blog-a-thon is to be as real and vulnerable as possible, which is (almost) always a healthy exercise. I've tried blogging marathons in the past (to varying degrees of success), and my seminary schedule does not allow for much flexibility. so the process may be fitful or short-lived, but it couldn't hurt to try!
Day 20: I Picked Jesus Part 2
For a fledgling follower of Christ the whole mess threatened to jam up the works in a big way. The God of love who had descended into my hell, told me I was worth the world and more and dragged me out into the light seemed suddenly and utterly absent from the conversations of my Christian friends as they condemned gays, girls who had abortions, atheists and dirty hippies, often all within a single sentence. And the Jesus story, once overflowing with meaning and beauty, had become little more than a source of division and an excuse to hurt or ostracize people. Everything was backwards. I could not abide it.
Or, more accurately, I oughtn’t have abided it. But if I’m being honest I actually, for a time, started to internalize these problematic bits of doctrine and philosophy which caused me to see certain brothers and sisters as “less than”, as “other”. I practiced Christian faith as if the best it had to offer me was sin management and reputation maintenance. I came to equate following Jesus with toeing the party line, worshiping God with keeping “holy” company (i.e. straight, evangelical, republican, preferably white and upper middle class). As much as it shames me to admit, I capitulated to the labels others in my tribe had been pinning on me for years. Without my being aware of it, I became one of “those” Christians. And I was celebrated for it.
But I was ever, at my heart, a boy of the world. I could not for long, try as I might, assimilate properly into a culture which repeatedly and vehemently positioned as its opposition those people who meant so much to me: my divorced mother, my non-evangelical family, my lesbian cousin who actually encouraged me in my faith and cheered me on in my pursuit of vocational ministry, my non-Christian friends who modeled health and kindness for me better than certain church folks. These us vs. them categories did not make sense of the world the way my early Christian experiences had; rather, they muddied and polluted my once-comforting, once-intimate faith with bits of hate and bigotry. Consequently, I entered into a period of questioning, doubting, and wrestling with the God who had once cradled me. I could no sooner let go of God than I could damn my friends, so I kept the warring forces right within my chest, and it nearly tore me in half.