I have the discombobulating experience of having been raised in 4 different countries on 3 different continents in both “1st” and “3rd” world countries. Though baptized in the Roman Catholic Church in the USA I grew up attending Mass and Protestant services in international communities around the world. There was also the added complexity of my early exposure to other faith traditions. In my early childhood years I grew up directly across the street from a synagogue in New York City. At various times of day I saw observant Jews walk in and out of the building my parents told me I was not allowed to enter. Beyond that I come from an extended family that is part devout Muslim and part devout Christian. You would think I’d have the answer to the title question of Brian McLaren’s new book, “Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?” but I don’t.
What I do have is a long ingrained recognition and expectation that those who worship God are as varied in race, ethnicity and culture as a United Nations conference. And to me, the essence of Church is the worship of God. So in a nutshell one could say that as a result of my background I have been raised to expect the Church to resemble the United Nations. And this I think is where my own problem with the notion of “Church” began.
This weekend I will be joining Brian McLaren, Ian Morgan Cron, and Suzanne Stabile in Fort Worth, Texas. Together we will struggle and share our different experiences and notions of what it means to be “Church.”
I look forward to it, and I hope you will join us.