How can you still be a Christian?

Saturday selfie

I ask myself this question quite a bit. And I hear it from others.

Just last week, I met an acquaintance who said she was interested in coming to our church. She implied that she was surprised that I went to church, based on my Twitter feed (which is usually a motley assortment of left-wing propaganda, book reviews, and dog photos). “I follow you on Twitter,” she said, “and I’m…” I interrupted her and finished the statement: “… surprised that I’m so liberal?” She laughed and nodded.

So, how can I still be a Christian? In light of everything that we think we know about Christians today? Some thoughts.

1: The GOP does not own nor speak for Christianity, as much as they would like to think that they do. Republicans and the conservative right have co-opted Christianity for political purposes, and they have wielded it with frightening power since the rise of the Religious Right. This is what most Americans think about when we think about Christians today. An inbred church picketing military funerals and shouting about how much God hates you. Politicians who, in the purported name of Jesus, are proponents of preventing the poor from receiving “handouts,” keeping out refugees, teaching or even learning any science at all, giving everyone access to an assault rifle, and barring women from reproductive rights. This, I am happy to say, is not the universal church, even if the Religious Right may be its loudest and most powerful faction.

2: Christianity is not static, and it has progressed, in various denominations, beyond some of its judgmental, fearful peers. I, for one, am a proud Episcopalian, and I’d wager that I have more in common ideologically with a run-of-the-mill agnostic than your average Southern Baptist. We Episcopalians stand on the “liberal” side of various issues (such as ordaining women and gay people) and yet still believe in Jesus. Imagine that.

3: We are personally so grateful to be part of a church community that believes that we cannot save ourselves. We attend a church that preaches, day in and day out, that we have all fallen short of the glory of God and are all in need of forgiveness. Yes, even us so-called and self-identified Christian righteous. We are no better than anyone else, and judging others is a waste of your wild, only life (not to mention baldly hypocritical). More about how this church saved my faith in another post.

4: The person of Jesus is about grace and freedom, not law and judgment. Don’t believe any Christian or any church who tells you otherwise, because they clearly are not very familiar with the Gospel.

Yes, sometimes it feels like a theological high-wire act to maintain my personal faith amid the din of ignorant, hate-mongering politicians who claim to represent my religion. It is hard. Guion and I talk about this a lot. We sometimes feel very ideologically lonely.

But there it is. I still identify as a Christian, because I still identify with a Jesus who embodied freedom, grace, and no-strings-attached love. He has nothing to do with a close-minded, hate-filled, and judgmental religion. And so neither do I.

Certain slant of light

Feeling like fall.
Before.

Thoughts lately

♦ Been utterly consumed with the real estate market and interior design blogs. First, I could look at other people’s houses ALL DAY, and second, you know my disdain for DIY projects; it is wide and well-publicized. But I harbor respect for these crafty women. And I also don’t know if I have the internal fortitude to join their ranks. The thought of making a fall wreath for my front door makes me want to set something on fire (preferably said wreath). But knowing how to refinish an old table or install new cabinets? Such information could be very useful to me.

♦ Getting a new sister next weekend! Tracy, welcome to the family. Win, good job picking that one.

♦ Let me tell you what is NOT the best breakfast reading material: a book about slum life in Greater Mumbai. But it is a wonderful book overall — beautifully written without being sappy or overly simplistic — and I highly recommend it. I think everyone read it about six months ago: Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo. (And David Sedaris is right; it DOES read just like a novel.)

♦ Also highly recommended: This Paris Review interview with Czeslaw Milosz, from some time in the mid-1990s. Riveting. And the guy hung out with everyone who was everyone.

♦ Sometimes, I genuinely feel bad for moderate Republicans. It must really suck to have your entire political party co-opted by a fringe group of total wackos. Not that I’ll necessarily vote for them, but bring back the sane, moderate GOP!

And now we're in a different grade of color. #nofilter #fallsky
After.

Thinking about

Jarvis's First Birthday Party
Walnut Creek Park, from Jarvis’s party last weekend.

On my mind lately:

Pernicious gender roles and the natural disadvantages of being a woman, thanks to this (fascinating) book, Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine. Rachel S. recommended to me, and I’m glad she did. It’s making me want to fight The System. And to have seven girl children who all grow up to be theoretical physicists and aerospace engineers.

How nice it is to have just one dog for a while. (Rainer got adopted!) Pyrrha might miss him, but she also might really love being an only child.

Thomas Jefferson: Not a total tool. Pretty useful to the founding of this country and all. And just as complex as everyone else is; it’s silly to think of Founding Fathers as these changeless demigods. (Also reading American Sphinx, by Joseph J. Ellis, which is good, albeit his incorrect, vociferous assertion that the whole Sally Hemings thing never happened.)

Inescapable damp air.

What if I had been good at math?

Does anyone take the GOP seriously anymore?

Semi-related: This quote that Guion shared with me from Bishop John Shelby Spong:

The church is like a swimming pool. Most of the noise comes from the shallow end.

 

 

Monday Snax

Mallory walking down the aisle. Didn't she look exquisite?
Us!

This weekend, we enjoyed the beautiful wedding of our friends Michael and Mallory, who tied the knot at James Monroe’s gorgeous estate, Ash Lawn-Highland. Photos on Flickr! Warmest congratulations to Michael and Mallory!

Snax with an enormous wedge of watermelon:

God Caught Backing Multiple GOP Candidates for President. Haha. God needs to make up His mind; it’s getting confusing. (Daily Intel)

The Hyena and Other Men. These photos are mind-blowing. Photographer Pieter Hugo became interested in a group of Nigerian men who capture hyenas and then keep muzzled on huge chains. Why? Not really sure. My best guess is because these animals are TERRIFYING to look at. These photos are astonishing. I also recently learned that hyenas are not from the canid family; rather, they are more closely related to cats. So bizarre. (Pieter Hugo)

Whales Have Regional Dialects. Yet another reason to be totally in love with whales, especially the idea of whales. (Broken Secrets)

DIY Wedding Hair: Chestnut Bun. I don’t know if this would work with curly hair, but I’m inclined to try it. (A Cup of Jo)

Flowers A-Z: O Is for Orchid. I love orchids so much. They’re the only plant that I seem able to keep alive for an extended period of time. I’m inspired to buy another one from the Charlottesville farmers’ market to put in our bathroom. (Design Sponge)

Interview with Christiane Lemieux about Her Book Undecorate. I really like the idea of this book. I would really like to have it on our coffee table. (Bloesem)

A Tribute to N&O Copy Editors and Page Designers. The Raleigh newspaper, the News and Observer, closed its local copy desk this past week. A sad day in journalism. (The Editor’s Desk)

Bundle of Joy. A+ on the execution, fellas. (Young Me, Now Me)

Forest Spirit. Moss-covered trees are always so enchanting and eerie. (The Lighthouse Keeper)