I Am No Longer a Christian

I Am No Longer a Christian June 1, 2019

Photo by Shanique Wright on Unsplash

I am no longer a Christian.

I am not anchored in Christianity.

I am not using any terms to try to express how my spiritual walk is “about a relationship” with Jesus through creative phrasing to distinguish myself from other Christian denominations and beliefs.

I am not using terms to suggest

A new form

Another way

Improved

Truer

Updated

Clearer

Open

Closed

Version of Christianity.

I am not a follower of Christ, a follower of the Path of Christ, or variations of this phrase that I have explored over the years in attempts to distinguish myself from being a person heavily embedded in religiosity.

I am not a disciple of Christ or Christ’s teachings. I am not a follower of only Christ’s teachings.

I am not a Christian.

I do not fit neatly into theological, religious, and spiritual categories. I do not need to create another theology in order to hold onto Christianity, either.

I am not classified under a theology that needs to claim me like property. There is no freedom within a proliferation of divisions of knowledge to satiate an egotistical yearning for comfort.

Although I have studied and experienced much more than I have written and spoken about regarding my spiritual journey, I am not identifying every single belief I possess.

I believe in God, the Universe, the Divine.

I believe in the mystery of Universe.

I am filled with wonder about the Divine within, without, and throughout.

Christ was here before Christianity.

Still, I am not a Christian.

What was once weird has become normal and what was once familiar has become strange.

I believe in

Energy

Energy work and healing

Many paths to God

That Jesus is unnecessary for eternal afterlife

The necessity of isolated devotion to Jesus in order to please God.

I believe in

The power of prayer

The power of Jesus name.

I believe many teachers have come to this world to guide us. I believe that religion functions as both a means and an end for a diverse humanity.

I hold the Bible as useful, and my spirituality is not limited to one sacred text.  Christianity has supported much of my spiritual development. I value this aspect of my life.

I have no particular incident that reveals a dramatic story behind leaving Christianity.

As I have embarked on a year without the Bible*, I sensed more and more that there were ways of thinking and being that no aligned.

I began to overthink Christian identity because I tried to tighten my grip onto loosely held together ontological strings of familiarity.

In the process of spiritual awakening, I attempted to deny and ignore what I knew.

My denial created a war within my soul. Without peace, there is no freedom

I want freedom.

I realize is time for me to simply name a reality that has existed for me for years.

Finally, I am naming my reality: I am no longer a Christian.

My Ancestors and Progressive Christianity

Becoming involved in a writing space with the explicit label of “Progressive Christianity,” has helped me to live truer to who I am.

Being able to look myself in the mirror and look unto God is what matters most in how I orient my life.

Before anyone else ask me if I am a progressive Christian, or a progressive, or a Christian, I ask myself the “truth” questions.

And the truth is: I am none of these constructs.

Although my writings, particularly anti-oppressive ones, like my anti-racist work, can be easily located within a progressive space, no longer identifying or anchoring myself in Christianity, alone,  means that I cannot look myself in the mirror and look to God and remain within the space.

Otherwise, a re-articulation of an entire category would be in order that allows for the fluidity of spiritual experiences. In some ways, I fit the label, and in more ways,  I do not.

I can find pockets, trends, and movements of people all around within religions, pushing to free themselves of institutional chains.

I am no more interested in locating myself with any progressive, regressive, or oppressive forms of any religion.

For years,  I held onto a belief about  my ancestors knowing the true God-the one who cut through the lies they were fed by people who enslaved them.

The one they believed as a deliverer.

The one whose call, Nat Turner heeded.

That was my Christian God.

Christ were Black bodies bearing strange fruit.

The ones who embodied, lived, and died the truth.

Over the last few years, even these understanding began to fall apart.

Understandings I thought I would never let go of for the rest of my life.

I weighed the possibility of letting down my ancestors.

Then, questions guided me.

How many enslaved Africans brought Bibles with them on ships, clinging to books in language unknown, as they were shackled together in filthy conditions?

My ancestral roots were not constructed in one way.

The story of spirituality as a collective for Black people throughout the Diaspora, then, is one that will continue to shift.

In this Word of Life, I find freedom.

There is a change happening. What helped centuries ago continues to move, expand, shrink, and evolve.

The ancestors are with me.

Taking Time and Envisioning: What is My New Spiritual Category?

When we hear the words

Buddhist

Muslim

Christian

Hindu

Or any religion

What do the labels signal for us about people and their beliefs, if anything at all?

A simple word can have complexly historical meaning. Saying any of them can invite expectations and beliefs about the who and what of each other.

If we let it.

In an instant

Upon hearing one word

We can reduce people to our perceptions of their beliefs

If we let it.

I do not seek

One word

Or two words

Or three

Or four

To summarize

Or categorize

My spirituality.

Yet, I struggle

To name what I conceive as

Un-nameables.

“Spiritual” falls short.

When we do not make the time that can be beneficial or necessary to understand each other, “spiritual” serves a purpose of helping people to quickly categorize us.

How can I (we) talk about our spirituality in ways that honors a journey?

Taking My Time

When I am asked about my spiritual beliefs,

I desire lingering

Lengthy

Drawn-outConversations

Requiring sweet and precious time

The kinds that call out

“Take your time!”

Like Black women

Sitting

Rocking

Fanning themselves

In a hot Mississippi church

Heavenly earthen, humble, and mighty building

Like Jesus

Way out in the countryside

Affirming

Listening to the preacher of the hour.

 

The taking

Of sweet and precious time

Like a Black mama

Talking about

How long it took

For children to come to her

After calling for them.

“Didn’t you hear me calling you?”

Taking our dear time.

 

Blurring

The lines

Between

Poetry and prose.

 

Listening

Talking

In circles

And over each other

Still understanding

All of it.

 

I Envision

Words

With stories unto themselves

And, oh, the stories they would tell.

 

Letters

Formed from Darkness.

 

Spirituality

Speaking more volumes

Than Bible translations.

 

Playgrounds

Where we run

Like our inner-child caught up with us.

Care-free devotion.

 

Fiery

Dyadic exchanges

Warming

Igniting

Our souls.

 

The kind of answers and descriptions

Taking several conversations

To touch the beginning

Feeling

Not scratching the surface.

 

Feeling our way

Through

Beloved

Humanness.

 

Taking

Our dear

Sweet

And precious time

Without getting into trouble

With Mama

Or Father

Who art in heaven.

 

Answering

The calls within and around.

 

Over time,

We know more than a label

A word

Or two or three or four.

We know more.

 

A new vision of describing

My-our spirituality

And spiritual journeys

Feels good.

Feeling like the God of Genesis beholding creation

Kind of good.

 

No obligation to turn inquiry,

Magic and mystery

Faith and hope

Rebellion and love

Justice and truth

And the freedom within the Unknown

Into fossils and artifacts

Protected by brick and mortar.

 

Like God

Universe

Divine

Unknown

And other one-word terms

I invoke

Trying to identify

What is beyond words

My spirituality cannot be easily defined or named.

Amen.

*Week 48 of Quitting the Bible– Typically, this post would come out early next week.

Announcement: Moving to New Visions Channel

In approximately a week, the Race + Grace Blog will move to the Patheos New Visions Channel. Instead of leaving Patheos altogether, I have decided to see how it goes.  The journey continues! See you there!

Peace, Love, and All That Jazz,

Dr. Sam


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