These poems were written quickly. But they frame the narrative of my belief, which is the only way I know how to have this conversation. In the last year my faith in Jesus has faded, altered, faded, altered, became irrelevant. Throughout my life, my Christianity has been inundated with doubt at various moments, and I became obsessed with the epistemology of doubt as that which kept me open rather than that which inhibited faith. Nonetheless, I entered seminary in the process of giving up Christianity entirely. Before entering STH, I experienced Christianity as part of the white, patriarchal system which perpetrated sexism, homophobia/transphobia, misogyny, and religious intolerance. I say this realizing we are always creating our past when we try to remember it; realizing there were many ineffable ways of being that my religious upbringing invited me into. I say this also realizing it will hurt feelings and offend people of my previous Christian communities. I want to recognize my family and several of my friends as a group of people who have demonstrated divine love and grace in my life, and to remain grateful for the many voices in these communities who have allowed me to ask questions and have loved me in every moment of my development.
While anecdotal, I think its important to talk about my identity as a woman for a moment. As a white, privileged woman in America, I absolutely believe in the necessity of feminism in America while recognizing that there are many LGBTQ, trans, black, Latina, Muslim (etc) women who are dehumanized by our society at deeper and more aggressive levels than I am. Our society is structured in a way that oppresses women still. I am not pointing fingers and I’m beginning to recognize ways in which I participate in a false-consciousness about what “woman” means/is. I’m trying to process all of this: this reality was evident to me pre-election and remains important to the understanding we have of the world. We have come a long ways, but there is more work to do.
Today I was so asleep in church that I dreamed real dreams, but while awake was still reminded of the value of being present and the value of listening. I was also reminded of this:
In my day-to-day life, I want to remember that deep listening spurs action, that we must lend one another our vision once in a while, that Christian culture does not hold Christ rising or Christ living; that we have rips in the fabric of our love which remain open so that we are reminded of a torn veil, of the mythology upon which we build our lives. I’ve found a way in which I think Christianity can operate without participating in systems of oppression. But I think that Fanny Howe is onto something when she says, “As the word ‘Christian’ has evolved, it has become associated with nationalism in that old crusading sense. It has become an ideological term that has, as far as I can tell, very little to do with the realism of the Gospels.” The word ‘Christian’ has lost the leap–for faith is always a leap. It has mummified itself, and in certain contexts, the body beneath is disintegrated with no hope of rising.
I’m neither the first nor last to note this. I know that I am not the end all or be all of Christians, and in many circles I’ve forfeited that title by some of my beliefs/stances on things. And yet, here I am, still identifying as Christian, trying (in my best moments) to find Christ in the people around me.