menu

Ana Marie Cox “Comes out” as a Christian

Ana Marie Cox “Comes out” as a Christian March 2, 2015

Israel Tabgha Loaves and Fishes mosaicShe explains why, over at The Daily Beast:

It is true that I feel intimidated by a conservative culture that seems intent on creating boundaries around Christianity rather than open doors. But it is also true that I wrote this article knowing that at least a few of them will probably like it—some might even tell me it needed to be written. The image of Christianity and progressivism as a newly hip fusion genre—it’s fucking edgy, man—is a strong siren song.

Yet any rumbling desire to turn my religion into something fashionably rebellious is an artifact of ego. It’s an attempt to make this story about me, someone who did something and then changed, ta-da—cue workout montage and triumphant final scene. On some level, I still want credit for the spiritual makeover—I was lost, but now am found, and I am the one that found me.

But if I understand God’s grace correctly, the miracle of redemption is that I was found all along. God does not see charming dissonance in being a liberal who follows Christ; He’s not looking for that New York Times Style section trend story. I do not get to think of myself as “edgy” for being just another believer. There is nothing to reconcile.

One of the most painful and reoccurring stumbling blocks in my journey is my inability to accept that I am completely whole and loved by God without doing anything. That’s accompanied by a corresponding truth: There is nothing so great I can do to make God love me more.

I really like her piece. Yes, she stabs at conservatives while offering up a mild defense of President Obama and questions surrounding his faith, but it’s not a wholly out-of-line stab, and it feels almost perfunctory; it is in no way the sort of full-on, sometimes gratuitous, bloodletting of which she is capable.

I sense it as someone who has also, over the years, done my share of bloodletting — sometimes wielding the blade in a wide, over-generalized arc for the sheer destructive joy of it. The more I focus on Christ, though, and the more I retreat to prayer, the less gratifying I have found that. Increasingly — particularly as I contemplate the actions of the Islamic State — I am conscious that we Christians are all in this together. We may be turning toward Jesus from different directions, but we are all being drawn toward the One who is All-in-All, and he can certainly handle and house us until we can figure out how to be less fractious and finally stand together.

When I say Cox’s mild remarks on conservatives seems perfunctory, I mean they seem half-hearted; as though she feels compelled to acknowledge that there is a divide, and it is real, between herself and other Christians, but that marking it too deeply can all-too-easily become a pointless, and yes, idolatrous, offering to the God of The Daily Outrage — an idol that grows by the power of a terrible prayer (“Give us this day, our daily wrath”) and, over time, does tremendous harm to the spirit and to our human perspective.

It is an idol that prevents us from seeing each other as human beings who are equally beloved of God, and renders us us incapable of saying to one-another, “it is good that you exist”, because we stop believing it.

Strangely enough, I had a dust up a few days ago with a “conservative” Catholic that went very bad. With the prayers of helpful friends, though, things were mended in a very straightforward way and when they were, I was suddenly able to see the man — not just a traditionalist Catholic who hurt me, but, himself — the guy that God loves.

It was a lightbulb moment that perhaps more of us who toil daily in this medium need to experience, because yes, we Christians really are in this thing together.

The Daily Outrage, whether political or religious or both, is mostly made up of things that, in the long-run, will not matter in and of themselves. Are there real threats, real problems? Yes, indeed, but they are not contained in every headline. Think back on the stories or speeches that had you fuming two news cycles ago, two months ago, two years ago. How many of them have mattered not a whit?

The Daily Hate born of prompted angst — when it blinds us to the simple humanity of the man or woman before us, whom God loves — gives dark service to something that is not Christ.

So, I kind of identify with Cox in this piece. I’m happy to know that she calls Christ Jesus her Lord and Savior, impressed to see that she proclaims her Christianity simply, without agonizing over how to justify it to anyone, and without going out of her way — as others sometimes have — to make sure her friends know that she is an acceptable sort of Christian (“one of the good ones”) and not like those other sorts of Christians, whom it is perfectly okay to despise and, if possible, drive from the public square.

Good on ya, Ana Marie Cox. Welcome to the Body of Christ, and as your sister-in-Christ, I will ask for your good, for God’s abundant blessings for you on your journey.

My image, Israel Tabgha Loaves and Fishes mosaic on floor approaching altar.


Browse Our Archives