Monday, October 10, 2011

Now What?

There is this knowledge that has been growing inside of me for quite some time. It's a knowledge that scares me.

I'm tired of being a Christian.

I first said it, out loud, in church a few weeks ago. And no one gasped {at least out loud} and no one threw me out the front doors with a scowl of disgust or a sigh of arrogant resignation. But, deep down, I believe those things were all right there. Waiting.

I'm tired of being a Christian if being a Christian means I'm supposed to be in lockstep with those who don't know me and don't know my heart.

I'm tired of being in association with those who use the word Christian to abuse and control my brothers and sisters.

I'm tired of being a Christian if being a Christian means that the gospel is reduced to a list of texts to ensure the prosperity of America, viewed through the backdrop of the American flag and heard through the background noise of the Star Spangled Banner.

I'm tired of being a Christian if being a Christian means I have to explain everything I do to some invisible score-keeper, busy tallying my actions. I'm just having a beer or two. . .I promise I won't get drunk. I'm going to skip church today to experience the wonder of creation. . .but I'm not abandoning the "gathering of believers." I might be gay, but I promise I will make up for it by being the finest, most busy believer you've ever had on your rolls. 

I'm tired of being a Christian if it means censoring every word that leaves my mouth on Sunday morning so as not to make anyone feel uncomfortable with my presence.

I'm tired of being a Christian if being a Christian means I constantly have to apologize for being me. 

And I think all this exhaustion began to creep in when I first began to understand that God doesn't fit in a nice little box with a steeple. It got hard when I started paying attention to the desires and curiosities of my soul and I had the nerve to wonder whether these new yearnings and cravings might actually be as important as the guilt-driven actions of going to church, or reading my Bible or helping out with the next church sponsored thing.

And what if ignoring my soul has actually driven me farther away from God?

I am tired of being a Christian. And yet God tells me, "It's just a name. And I have given you new names. You are Thinker. You are Writer. You are Photographer. You are Creative." But you don't just go around blurting that out at church now do you?

So now what? I want to follow Thinker God - not Christian God. I believe in Writer God and Creative God. I want to be led by this wild, imaginative God who delights in the mysterious, who created the wonder and the joy of life and doesn't force me into compromising my values and my self just to fit into an institution.

And I believe this God will let me wrestle as long as it takes.

I don't owe it to God to be a Christian. I owe it to God to listen to the truth of who I was created to be and I owe it to God to make the most of that creation.

And all of that might, or might not, involve a pew and a steeple.

*Even writing this makes me feel guilty, as I've spent my entire life building up a church, one way or another. But I can't help but look around the world and see the way that everything is changing. I see the We Are The 99% movement and I think that they have the nerve to look outside the institutions they have grown up with and see the devastation that institutional power has. Whether it's Wall Street Power or Church Row power, it's often corrupt and abusive and far more interested in the status quo than the empowerment of creation.

This photo was taken on one of the most conservative street corners in America - the corner of Main and West Main Cross in Findlay, Ohio. It gives me great hope. It was taken by my friend Frank Wilson, and more of his shots from this ongoing protest are available here.

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