Let Your Light So Shine Before Men

Writer Ada Calhoun has come out” as a Christian. (H/T HotAir)

I especially liked this part:

All of us need help with birth and death and good and evil, and religion can give us that. It doesn’t solve problems. It reminds you that, yes, those challenges are real and important and folks throughout history have struggled and thought about them too, and by the way, here is some profound writing on the subject from people whose whole job is to think about this stuff.

Over much of the rest of the piece, however, I have struggled to gauge my feelings. I am glad to see a Christian “come out,” and sad to know she felt “oppressed” by the cool kids in the cafeteria. I would like to say “welcome, Ada, to the constant reality of Christ,” but I am not sure she would like that; I suspect if I opened my arms she would veer left to escape the embrace, in order to huddle within her circle and say, “but I’m not the sort of Christian you are, with your women-hating oppressive patriarchal church, your sin-talk, your abortion-mania and gay-bigotry.”

Calhoun has decided to “come out” defensively; making an appeasement offering to her progressive circle that hits all the proper hate-notes and narratives against other Christians.

All in all, the piece reminds me a little of that scene in Schindler’s List, where the female Jewish architect tries to stay alive by offering to help design a better, stronger gallows so that Amon Goeth could kill more Jews. She hoped, of course, that the value of her usefulness to the cause would outweigh her unfortunate Jewishness.

Amon Goeth, of course, allowed the architect to have her say. Then he casually dispatched her with a single bullet to the head.

Too much of Calhoun’s piece sounds like she’s saying, “Okay, I’m coming out as an oppressed Christian, and all you progressives have to accept me, because I’m the right sort of Christian; an Episcopal with full progressive credentials, who will never challenge your shibboleths. I’m not like those other Christians, whom it is permissible and right to despise.”

It is never easy to “come out,” – whether one is doing it as a gay person or as an atheist or even as a believer – there is always the wondering: how will this be received; what will I lose or gain with this self-exposure? Will love disappear?

When we are children playing hide-and-seek, at game’s end we call “olly-olly-oxen-free.” It means “come out, step into the light where you may be found/seen; there is no risk, no penalty.”

As adults we know, of course, that there is always a risk when you are in the light and can be seen; that is why we hide in layers. Christians, however, are called to step out into the light, anyway with trust:

Really, all of this comes with the job. The job of the Christian is to hold fast in the face of chaos and recall that Christ is more powerful than any man or media, and that darkness does not overcome light. To be honest, all the fretting from us Christians is a bit unseemly. If we are secure in what we believe, a cartoon does not take us down, no matter how perverse and offensive, because Christ is alive, and Grace abounds, and because just as an Abbess or Abbot is entitled to use whatever resources his or her community contains to advance the stability of the abbey, the Holy Spirit has a way of confounding us by using what is out there in the world – sometimes very surprising things and people – to do the will of the One.

The Christian who “comes out” steps out into the light and the world of paradoxes. Love does not disappear; it turns up everywhere. It challenges. It waits. It serves. It demands your surrender, only to give you more.

I very naturally began to refer to Him as “His Majesty.” Teresa of Avila always used the phrase and I always wondered about it. Now, suddenly, I knew. I had had a glimpse of what it was to be in the Presence of the Eternal Majesty, and it took away all of my resistance, all of my words. I surrendered, gave it all, understood the illusion that I had anything to give, and the paradox therein; that God never takes away a gift given, but accepts the surrender of everything by gifting even more.

The life of faith, in truth, is -like Jumpin’ Jack Flash, a g-g-gas; it is a mind-blower. We humans tend to try to put everything, including God, and love and life, into manageable compartments, and we hide in them. We hide inside our frameworks, our structures, our plans, our narratives, our willful and our unintentional bigotries.

But God -who created a world of order- points cannons at those tidy compartments and goes “ba-boom!” And when we ask, repeatedly, “why did you do that, when I had it all so beautifully arranged,” God says, “it was blocking my love. My love couldn’t fit with all that stuff in the way.”

When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger realized he was about to be elevated to the Chair of St. Peter, he is reported to have put his head in his hands and prayed, “Lord, don’t do this to me…” He had planned for a quiet retirement; a little house in Bavaria with ten thousand books, a cat, a piano and a word-processor. And then – “ba-boom!” – he was sent, like Peter, to where he would rather not go.

To not obey would have blocked God’s love.

Obedience, for all it is decried, is in fact, the Royal Highway by which His Majesty speeds along his love, and his glory. It is the Autobahn of the Spirit. But we don’t find it half as amusing as the German one with the fast cars.

At this point in Advent, we are slouching toward Bethlehem, bearing a heavy load; family gatherings are not always fun. Social pressures mount. Outlooks are grim. A week ago we were bathed in a sort of afterglow as we recognised the God who is our self-immolating lover. As the journey plods on, however, the night begins to seem very long, and all of our hope is on the distant star.

Standing on his Holy Mountain, and looking East, I spot my frightened sister Ada, and say, “welcome, Ada, to the constant reality of Christ; to the Body of Christ, which is broken, and despised of men.”

Welcome to the crucible of faith, where everyone gets a turn.

To quote Michelangelo, and the great Anthony Bloom: As I am a beginner myself . . . we will try to begin together.

It is so hard, and so good, to belong to Christ.

UPDATE: Joe Carter wonders “If this is what it means to come out as a Christian, why bother? If you’re embarrassed to be associated with orthodox Christians, with Scripture, and with Jesus—the Jesus of history as revealed in the Gospel, not the hippie, guru Jesus of the denatured social gospel—why would you even want to be called a Christian at all?”

Related:
Faith is an Alternative Universe
Ross Douthat; Heaven and Nature
Why Did God Become Man
The Smallness of God

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Let Your Light So Shine Before Men » The Anchoress | A First Things Blog -- Topsy.com

  • JuliB

    I can appreciate it though… I was incredibly hesitant to come out as Christian. Being an atheist was part of me, and my family is comprised on non-believers.

    Then to come out as a Catholic as well – yikes.

    Being religious/being Christan looks a lot easier from the outside. No need to think for yourself… say you’re sorry and you’re forgiven…. eternal life because you’re scared of the nothingness of death….

    But I found the biggest challenges after I converted. I needed to submit myself to the Truth, and to God. And these truths are in the care of the Catholic Church – yes, the “old men in Rome”. It was hard to say that maybe I was wrong about so much.

    Confession — said to the priest — isn’t easy.

    And no – I wasn’t really scared of death ever – since it would be like going to sleep.

    So many misconceptions that nonbelievers have….

    I felt very uncomfortable telling people about it. And I didn’t write an article about it. So I would go easy on her…. and pray that the opening of her mind continues. Unfortunately, there are still many things I find hard to say about my faith – abortion, same sex marriage, etc. I pray for more courage, and that’s what she needs.

    [Juli -I thought I was being easy on her! I acknowledged how difficult it is to come out and welcomed her as a fellow-beginner. And I even got some "dirty subhuman" Christian hate-mail regarding it, too, so, you know, that sort of backs it all up! ;-) -admin]

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    I had a mixed reaction to the piece as well.

    On the one hand, a person has to take the first step somewhere. And we must remember that it is only the first step. Indeed, most of us are still sojourning, still on the road, not yet where we should be. So we should rejoice that she has taken that first step of the journey, and rejoice that it would appear that the Truth has nudged her to take that first step.

    On the other hand, it also appears that that first step of hers is as a politicized Christian. Much of her politics still informs her faith, rather than Faith informing her politics. She is not alone, she has plenty of company on both the left and the right.

    May she continue to hunger for truth and Truth and not think that she has already arrived. After all, even Augustine went off in the wrong direction a couple of times in his search for truth before he found the right path. May this politicized faith be only one step, one station along the journey that, like her bouncing-around religious pluralism past, will one day be left behind.

  • Mary

    What struck me was particularly how it related to how it made her feel, and how she did not touch on the truth.

  • Elizabeth K.

    I have sympathy for her too, and hope she will grow in her faith, of course. But your comparison to the architect from Schindler’s List is completely apt–and this is borne out by the hateful spew of letters that follow her article. Kissing up to the cool kids yields what one would expect: more bigotry, more hatred, more smug nastiness. Perhaps if she reads the letters her article garners, she’ll build up her spine and reconsider who she really wants to please.

  • http://deathby1000papercuts.com Mondo

    Good, I was afraid I might be the only one to see that article like you did.

    “…I’m the right sort of Christian; an Episcopal with full progressive credentials, who will never challenge your shibboleths. I’m not like those other Christians, whom it is permissible and right to despise.””

    Exactly.

    It was like she “came out” as a Christian–but in a very PC, “look-at-me-I’m-not-a-bad-Christian”, I’m-a-cool-lib-first sort of way.

    She is sure to let readers know that she’s not so much into it that she would stand up for anything–you know, inconvenience any of her friends about it or make a scene.

    In other words, her “Christianity” is more the subject matter for a piece at this time of year than anything else.

    That’s my take.

  • dry valleys

    A fair few of the people I knock around with are observant Christians, & some Muslims. I find myself actually having to show a great deal of respect for their beliefs whatever I actually make of them.

    My view is that people should be respected but ideas not so much so, especially being as they have consequences, but it’s rare in my experience that atheists actually assert themselves against the usual vague deference shown towards faith. (Why else, indeed, appear at a blog like this where every core belief differs from mine?)

    I like to think I never stifle anyone. I do actually admire people who manage to be conservatives in left-wing environments, or vice versa. I think some people are just natural nonconformists & will rebel against whatever everyone else thinks- & without such people, humanity would never have budged an inch since prehistoric days so why not?

    One of my biggest fears is that I make those around me afraid to speak their minds*, as I can be not only quite assertive but also a bit thin-skinned. Yet I have not had any problems palling around with those who think differently provided that they accept how deeply unlikely it is that I’lll move :)

    *The second being that I’m totally wrong about everything. I like to flatter myself that I’d swallow my pride. But what if I influenced people & made them do bad? Well, I’d console myself with the thought that I don’t really get much influencing done.

    As for the new atheists. I am with them in their efforts, especially to encourage those who feel as if they are the only ones to find some kind of “fellowship”. I understand why Dawkins gets angry given that he has to deal with young-earth creationists & others who stand in the way of his exposition of what he rightly views as the wonders of nature, unadorned. I laud the first few pages of his latest book in this regard (I have them all myself). I’ve been known to think that I should be more like him or the Hitch.

    I actually find that in many cases such as this, stories are outright made up & are widely believed by those who want to believe them in that regard.

    It does dismay me to see the likes of Madeleine Bunting, Koran Armstrong, Terry Eagleton etc. praise what they think religion is like but overlook what is happening in, for example, the Muslim world & places like Uganda which follow viciously reactionary policies.

    Having said all the above, I do tthink her reference to “how reductive and bigoted they’re being, the way I would if they were talking about a particular race” is a bit off because people choose to follow religions & pursue a set of ideas accordingly, whereas being black or white is just a fact of life that is irrelevant to how a person lives & is.

  • Brian David

    My guess is that Ms. Calhoun has opened herself up to some attacks and challenges from an enemy she may not expect in this step of hers proclaiming her Christianity. It will be interesting to see how these attacks will form her faith for the future…

  • elmo

    I could have written something identical to this column when I first returned to the Catholic faith. She and I are the same age and both were seekers before coming to the Church. Bl. Theresa also played a role in my reversion as she no doubt did with Ada Calhoun’s.

    Becoming a Christian was (and still is) a slow, painful process of letting God form me into what I was born to be. She’s just at the very beginning of this process and doesn’t know what to expect or whether her friends will drop her (mine did), or whether there will be love if they do. I know now that the answer to that question is not only yes, that love exists, but that this Love is God.

    That said, it is unfortunate that she wrote this column so early on in her conversion, throwing her pearl of faith before the Internet swine. I hope she can find the strength to continue in her Christian walk despite all the hate that is certain to come her way.

  • Klaire

    I think this is one of the best pieces you’ve ever written Elizabeth, and that’s saying a lot, considering your talent. Only God knows her heart, as he does all the “Christians” who just sold out the country. We do no one favors in God’s Love when we swim down the river of moral relativism with them. It takes guts and courage to be a real Christian, and much of that, is being able to take the blows and grow in humility.

    The part about God’s love being “blocked” and obedience is simply, “God-inspired.” Thanks for such a beautiful post, and also a reminder of how much we all need the prayers of each other.

  • http://artemisretriever.blogspot.com/ retriever

    She is young in her faith, and I hope and pray that she grows strong and brave in it.

    I was staggered by the venomous response in some of the Salon comments after her post. Like a pack of wild dogs tearing a young lamb apart… It is interesting that , despite the tired recital of all the Church’s many sins and cruelties over the centuries trotted out by atheists and agnostics, they are far more personally hateful to believers than vice versa nowadays.

    I read her piece ambivalently as I left the Episcopal Church I went to seminary to serve as a priest, precisely because of its political correctness, it’s loosey goosey stance on issues like abortion, and the general emphasis on feeling, and people practicing a kind of cafeteria Christianity, and not preaching a compelling gospel.

    Ada’s emphasis on her choice, and her hesitancy about revealing her new found commitment makes me wonder a little: has she let herself listen for the voice of God, has she listened for His call? He has a way of putting our natural humanoid fears and anxieties into perspective…At this time of year we all have the reminder of Mary’s fear (awe before a holy one, a representative of the One True God shows reverence not cowardice), then obedience, and willingness to take whatever path the Lord decided for her. That’s faith. Stepping out into the unknown, aware of one’s weakness, but believing that there is a God, and we aren’t it.

    Forgive the cliches, but we don’t choose God, He first chose us. Called us, sought us, hunted us in the dark and twisted thickets we tangled ourselves up in. He cut us free, he gave us the kiss of life, and he will lead us out of the thicket. But it will entail a lot of scratches, and much struggle, and require trust in the One calling us out of darkness into light.

    The Church has never been a club of saints, but a school for sinners. We are a rebellious, pig-headed lot–I know I am–and we want what we want. I can relate to Ada’s embarrassment at being thought to be “one of those fundies” but there is a very simple way to cure that: pray, worship, study, then reach out and serve others.

    Clearly she has long sought the truth, and having worked with Mother Theresa is a sign that God was at work drawing Her to Him from early on. God love her and the humankindness that led her there! But there is really little point in dwelling too much on one’s own feelings about being a Christian. Better to focus on God, than oneself. On work in a soup kitchen or comforting a desperately lonely old person in a nursing home, or helping bring flowers and communion to people in hospital than to agonize about “How to be a stealth Xian”.

    I don’t mean to sound snarky, but I winced at some of her throwaway lines about abortion or conservative Christians. Nevertheless, I do wish her well.

    I personally have always felt the presence of God in Catholic churches or the kind of evangelical protestant congregation I presently belong to where the company of the faithful strengthen and inspire each other, where the message is that the gospel is about God in man made manifest, not people in God finding a useful commodity. The purpose of the church is not to complete the happy adjustment of the faithful, but rather to equip them for ministry to a fallen world beloved by God.

    We are put here on this earth to know and serve God, to reach out in love to a broken and aching world. To the extent that our own wounds make us more understanding and available to the suffering of the world, knowing ourselves is valuable. But we ourselves are not the point of it all.

    It is corny but I’ve always believed that Jesus, our faithful Shepherd, the Lover of our soul, cares more passionately that we struggle towards holiness than that we be happy and at ease on earth. Augustine wrote that our hearts are restless until they rest in God.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Sadly, Calhoun seems all too typical of many Christians I met in the Episcopal Church; their real religion is progressivism, and a feeling of pride that they are not, yea, verily, like unto those horrid tax collector evangelical Christians and Catholics who, for goodness sake, don’t even read the New York/L.A. Times, or belong to a yact club!

    It sounds to me like she’s trying to glom onto the current popular “I’m a Victim!” cult. Again, sadly, there are far too many Christians who really are victims in today’s world! Save your sympathy for them.

  • JuliB

    Anchoress, My comment about going easy on her was aimed more at other posters to follow, not you!

    [Ah, but I thought it an excellent opportunity to make myself a bit clearer, so I thank you! :-) -admin]

  • Pingback: » Links to Visit – 12/22/09 NoisyRoom.net: Where liberty dwells, there is my country…

  • http://bcscentral.info Gerry

    Here’s a quote from that self-described Christian that is straight out of the Lavender Mafia playbook:

    “I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other politically involved religious groups who take the gospel as an excuse to spread hate and support specific candidates and propositions should have their tax-free status taken away. “

  • Pingback: Catholic News Headlines Dec. 22, 2009 « Catholic News

  • John

    Note that the ‘hate’ supposedly being spread is the mere begging to differ with the proposition that some sexual activity is harmless or good.

    When someone can’t distinguish between disagreement about the goodness or health of a given practice and personal hatred….isn’t this evidence of a mental impairment?

    If I warn an alcoholic from the danger of drinking or a smoker from smoking, because I don’t want them to hurt themselves…how is that “hate”? Conversely, how is their emotional outbursts, calls for punitive government action not inspired by a desire to harm?

  • http://diddly.wordpress.com WChase

    I thought Calhoun wrote an honest piece about her ambivalence having her feet in various worlds. She ends the piece questioning her own courage it seems, wondering if or how she can raise the bar apart from this article. Great question for all of us to ask ourselves. I think we ought to imitate Calhoun in to his way, as opposed to questioning someone else’s courage and authenticity, and even worse, comparing her to a holocaust victim who commited the ‘crime’ of trying to survive a murder threat.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I think the problem with Calhoun’s article is that she was a bit too honest—she honestly expressed the contempt many Episcopalians feel for their Conservative, non-Episcopalian, Christian brethren. This is honest, yes. But are her views of Non-progressive Christians admirable? Should they be imitated, or forgiven, because, you know, she’s being honest about them?

    There are Christians in Pakistan, India, Vietnam, all across the world who suffer persecution—real persecution, not being shunned by one’s progressive “friends”. Surely there’s is the honesty, and courage, we should pray for?

    [I spoke with a man last week who is pleading for good of the Christians in the Holy Land - they are being squeezed out and persecuted. We need their presence there. -admin]

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As for the vicious comments spewed at her, retriever, sadly, they didn’t surprise me, at all; your current crop of atheists really hate Christians, and all other believers, except, perhaps, Moslems.

    (I was amused by the references to Jesus as a “Zombie Rabbie”; these guys sure have monsters on the brain, don’t they?)

    I wish Ms. Calhoun well, but, if she really is honest, she might have to decide, at some point, between her progressive friends, and their beliefs, and following God.

  • http://diddly.wordpress.com WChase

    So Calhoun’s courage still isn’t good enough because it doesn’t rival that of persecuted Christians ? … Calhoun already seems to know that her courage needs work, judging by how she ends her article.

  • http://www.ricketyclick.com/blog DJMoore

    A small Schindler’s List quibble: The female architectural engineer was killed for trying to order her Nazi captors around, for openly defying them and pointing out their arrogant ignorance. (Or, perhaps more to the point, for being a well-educated Jew.) The project in question was a prisoners’ barracks, not a gallows.

    As to the main point of the article: As a militant skeptic, I’m thoroughly disgusted by the disdain and hatred shown to anyone who admits to being a Christian. I have my own problems with the fantasy exemplified in, for instance, the Nicene Creed, and yet it is clear to me that Christianity, as taught by the biblical Christ, is one of the well-springs of compassion, peace, and all that is best about humanity, all that raises us up above the merely animal origin we share with every other living thing on the planet. The rejection of what many see as the unscientific fantasy is being used to reject the powerful and beautiful message that you, Anchoress, see and express so clearly.

    This is a big part of Calhoun’s problem, I think: for many of us, and certainly to our mocking friends, acknowledging a sympathy to Christianity is not acknowledging our sympathy for the very best parts of how Christ teaches us to live, but what we see as primitive superstition.

    It doesn’t help that many non-Christians then turn to other, less uplifting, and downright destructive magical stories. Like, um, communism.

    You want cringe-worthy? “The Obamas are now in office — a good Christian family in the truest sense of the term — and the right wing is more marginalized than it was a year ago.”

    Gah. This is what comes from wanting the feel-good without the discipline, without clearly defined principles.

    Instapunk has used his crisis of faith to write a powerful essay on this topic, comparing Christianity with pantheism. I’ve written a response, describing my own crisis of skepticism, of wanting to have faith, but being unable to do so.

    I cite The Anchoress as one of the beacons helping me to see that which is true and good in faith, in Christianity. You are indeed letting your light shine, and I cannot express how grateful I am for that, and how bright your light seems to me.

  • Mary

    Does this “Christianity, as taught by the biblical Christ,” bear any discernible relationship to any form of Christianity as actually practiced by anyone?

    Because I’m a bit skeptical about those who profess to believe in what Christ really taught. As a rule, I’ve found that they believe Christ had the good taste to always agree with them.

  • http://www.ricketyclick.com/blog DJMoore

    Mary:

    You’re right. That phrase was a severe rhetorical blunder on my part, and your objection points to one of the main obstacles to my faith.

    It’s clear to me that Christianity has been, in general, a positive good.

    But as I ask in my response to Instapunk, “I’m begging the Christians around me to come up with something better than the Nicene Fourth Century Crackpot Superstition that I can swear to as I am baptized and take Communion. Please. I’m dying here.”

    So much of liturgy is bound up with the magic show, that I honestly can’t answer Mary’s challenge. What, exactly, is in the scriptures that has made them such a powerful force for good?

  • Mary

    what’s your objection to the Nicene Creed?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Yes, we might be able to help a bit better if we knew exactly what your objections to the Nicene Creed are; what part of the “magical crap”, specifically, do you object to?

    And, if you object to it so strongly, and since you consider the liturgy a “magic show”, why do you even want to take communion, or participate in something you really don’t believe in? And, since you seem to dislike the scriptures, why would you even want to follow them?

    What you basically seem to be begging the Christians around you, is to come up with some sort of insta-Christianity, tailor-made for you, which you can deign to accept. I’m sorry, but, with the best will in the world, we just can’t do that. That’s not the way our faith works.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I’d suggest you read some real, excellent Christian writers, such as C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Aquinas and the church fathers.

    Also, if you’re really interested in Christianity (as opposed to, say, some less “magical” faith, such as Buddhism), you might want to check out some Protestant denominations, which don’t have the liturgical “magic show.”

    WChase, only Ms. Calhoun herself can answer the question of whether or not her courage is adequate or not—and it doesn’t sound as if she’s really been put to the test, yet. What I think is wrong is granting her the coveted prize of Insta-Victim, since it sounds like the worst thing she faces at the moment is rejection by her ultra-progressive companions. There are Christians—and Jews—and others—in the world who face much worse, wouldn’t you agree?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Also, DJ, would you be willing to put aside your negative feelings about the Nicene Creed, the liturgy, etc., and simply attend some of the churches in your area, to see what they’re actually like? In the end, Christianity is something that has to be lived; it’s not just a matter of theology, reason/non-reason, science/anti-science; it’s a living, breathing, creed. One can argue about faith all you like, but, in the end, God has to be experienced, not just speculated about.

    As I said, there are many Protestant denominations which don’t have elaborate liturgies, or have involved services; also, have you thought about the Quakers?

  • http://diddly.wordpress.com WChase

    WChase, only Ms. Calhoun herself can answer the question of whether or not her courage is adequate or not—and it doesn’t sound as if she’s really been put to the test, yet. What I think is wrong is granting her the coveted prize of Insta-Victim, since it sounds like the worst thing she faces at the moment is rejection by her ultra-progressive companions. There are Christians—and Jews—and others—in the world who face much worse, wouldn’t you agree?

    Yes and I think so would Calhoun. Other people suffer more than her – no question. As far as being tested, She seems to admit that she has avoided ‘the test’, so that in itself is a test, right? The article is about her struggles, and even though you may find them part of an easy too dismiss INSTA-VICTIM narrative, I just see her as a woman who is wobbling on new ground and admitting she hasn’t yet stood up to the bigotry of progressives . Being rejected by a group that has always accepted you is not easy. It does hurt. It is frightening, and it takes courage to do it. You gotta start somewhere, and where else is she supposed to start if she has always counted herself a progressive. i like the article. I am not asking anyone here to like it. Not everyone has to be a martyr or saint to motivate or inform my faith.

  • http://www.ricketyclick.com/blog DJMoore

    My father is a retired Episcopal priest. Before that, he was a minister with the First Christian Church.

    I’ve spent my share of time in services, reading the Bible, and listening to sermons.

    I’m pretty familiar with the works of Lewis, especially Mere Christianity, and a great deal of what he says appeals very deeply to me.

    My Dad, incidentally, delivered great sermons in his day — but they were about how we should live, not about…well, this kind of thing:

    He spoke very little, by the way, about how we would go to Hell if we misbehaved, or go to Heaven if we simply believed in Christ, and would be forgiven no matter what we did.

    Understand me: I want to be baptized. I want to take Communion from my father’s hand before he dies. I don’t even understand exactly why; all I can say is, there’s something deeply moving going on there, something that calls to me.

    But I simply cannot stand up, in public, and swear that I believe what I just quoted. I don’t believe it, and can’t.

    How do all the good things about Christianity arise from the things in the Creed? Why is that central?

    I’m not looking for a “tailor made” Christianity. There seems to me to be a gap between things like the Creed, and the way that the many good Christians I know live. Not that they contradict each other, not at all, more like there’s a missing step.

    Please understand, please please please, I’m not trying to challenge anyone’s faith here. I’m trying to find mine.

    [And I can't go to my Dad with this. He is no longer the strong debater he once was.]

  • Nick Melucci

    DJ-

    I believe it has something to do with understanding the truest nature of our relationship to God. That it has been made, through Christ as both man and God, an extremely intimate one. This should alter the way we see ourselves and others and stand as the foundation and reference point for how to live a good life. A life that is both fulfilling to you and, concurrent with that, of service and benefit to others. Please accept this as my own humble interpretation of the connection.

  • http://www.ricketyclick.com/blog DJMoore

    Oh, drat.

    I just realized that somehow, the pieces of the Nicene Creed I can’t believe in — can’t — didn’t post. Let me try again. This belongs right after “this kind of thing:”
    ===
    …Maker of heaven and earth…

    …begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made

    …came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary

    …on the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

    And we believe in the Holy Spirit…And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

    …we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
    ===

  • Mary

    Unfortunately, the magic you reject is exactly the effective part.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X