This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a conference called “Why Christian?” So much occurred during those three days and I am 100% certain much of it will come out through the many books I procured at, or bought because of this event. But today, untied to any book, I wanted to share a few of my musings post conference.
This question, “Why Christian?” isn’t one that I personally have sat with much. As a mainline protestant all my life, it just isn’t asked, in the same line that you don’t ask someone about how much money they make, to ask “Why Christian?” comes across as impolite. And yet…after hearing eight women from diverse backgrounds speak to their answers and then to have the opportunity to hear the God stories of four men who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, I find myself convicted.
Convicted for never seriously asking myself this question.
Convicted because if someone had asked me I would have dropped them in the “fun-di-gelical” box and responded in snark and thinly veiled anger.
Convicted because the circumstances of my life have been so affirming that I have never been required to articulate or defend my choice, to myself or anyone else.
So now, in all my convicted glory, I have to dwell in this question for a while, which I’ll do and yeah probably bring my faith community along for that ride (you’re welcome Minneola). But beyond Christianity, beyond my faith, this experience of hearing others’ testimonies has prompted me to wonder, “what other raging blind spots do I walk around with every day?” “What other realities exist for so many that simply do not exist for me?” “What questions am I leaving on the table or completely ignoring because I can?”
Some of these I can articulate. There’s race, class, gender, socio-economic status etc. and they are why I try so hard to read and engage writers, authors and thinkers from an array of backgrounds, but let’s be honest, I’ve been a pastor for 3 years, in seminary for 4.5 and an ELCA member since the day I was born and I never asked and answered the question, “Why Christian?” So, even though I might have some awareness, the thing I claim as the core of my identity, my baptismal belovedness, is also the very thing I feel the most blind about right now.
Those who don’t identify with the Christian faith have (most likely) answered the question “Why Not Christian?” but my musings are less about that particular question and more about the identities, choices, beliefs and actions we carry around with us every day subconsciously and to the oppression, dismissal and marginalization of others. I want to do better. I want to know myself and my space in this world more intimately and so far the only way I have found to do that successfully is to enter into relationship with people who are not like me. That happens in what books I read, it happens with who I chose to be in relationship with, face-to-face or on-line, it happens with what organizations, platforms and outlets I follow on social media (and actually read).
It’s hard emotional work. Just this morning I was scrolling through my Facebook and I saw some posts I longed to roll my eyes at and scroll on, but I took the time to read the comments and actually absorb those opinions and see the people behind them. Do I agree with them now? Hell, no! But I am strong enough, sure enough and yeah I have a big enough ego to stay in relationship with people I whole-heartedly disagree with because it is right there that my blindspots are revealed and I can finally answer the questions I never knew to ask.
Happy reading my friends!
For your information, here are some of those places, people, etc. I chose to connect to…
Social Media: The Root, Univision, Shaun King, Austin Channing Brown (FB, Twitter), Upile Chisala (Instagram).
Books: Waking Up White, Cross and the Lynching Tree, Between the World and Me, I’m Still Here, The New Jim Crow, The Hate U Give
Podcasts: 2 Dope Queens
Feminism (particularly intersectional)
Social Media: The Free Black Woman’s Library, Tuhina Verma Rasche (Instagram, FB)
Books: Women and Gender in Islam, Living a Feminist Life, Fierce: Women of the Bible and their Stories…
LGBTQ+ (much of this is related specifically to the church)
Social Media: Austen Hartke, Emmy Kegler, Kevin Miguel Garcia (Twitter), Queer Grace (FB)
Books: Sister Outsider, Stone Butch Blues, Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians,
And so so so much more…feel free to share the voices you follow in the comments on the FB posts :).