Saturday, June 09, 2012

Why would I follow this?

Sorry to have been away from posting for so long.  Life gets busy, and Facebook gets in the way, too.

Today, I got this comment message. Sadly, it's "anonymous", but perhaps a response here may be helpful.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Still there. Home soon": 
Hi. I was going to follow you, but read on your bio that you are a christian. For the life of me, I cant understand (on any spiritual level), why you would follow this faith? With so much more spiritual (kindly) leanings, why? I have nothing against you at all, but I would like an answer from a Gay person. It feels to me like there has to be a strong submissiveness in you? I mean you only kindness. I hope you understand. 
 First let me say I am grateful for your kindness and understand your dilemma. But, trust me honey.  I'm as gay as it gets.  I'm happy to chat.  I'm not what you seem to think.

The public face of Christianity in this country (maybe in the world) is of those who make the most noise, get on TV more, make headlines.  The loudest voices are the ranting, brain-dead, fundamentalist.  The Roman Catholic Church with its sad patriarchy and rigid theology makes the press, too.

That's not all there is.  Many times, I wonder if some of those noisy, condemning, rigid, judgmental asses even believe in the same God I do. But there I go being the rigid, judgmental one.  Hmmmn.  It ain't easy.

I, too, sometimes fear calling myself a "Christian" because of the comment (and judgment) such a claim elicits.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say "I'm a Jesus-Follower."

But, dear anonymous, please know that being Christian does not mean being stupidly submissive to a rigid set of rules and judgments.  It doesn't mean that to me, or for me, or in me. In fact, it's quite the opposite.  It is a call to use my mind, to struggle with the Holy One of Being in deep relationship, and to live a life of acceptance, love, peace, and justice.  I can't do those things without that relationship.

I do not feel smugly superior or have some "product" that I want to sell you or think you "need." I will say (and I think I hear it from you) that as human beings we are spiritual journeyers.  And, I don't place judgments on what spiritual journey you may be on.

I don't know that I can or need to justify to you why I am Christian.  It's not (for me) something to "convince you" to accept or a debate to "win."  I believe true Christianity is very kind, gentle, challenging, frustrating, joyful, and life-giving.  I can sure understand how that may be very difficult to see in the public face that is put forth by so many who call themselves Christian.

It's not about submission, but surrender.  It's not about rigid religion but relationship with the Holy.  It's not about judgment, but justice.  It's not about loathing, but love.  Well, that's as alliterative as I can handle.  Most spiritual journeys are about those things.  But any of them can get really f#$%d up.

Let's talk more.  Don't dismiss me out of hand.  My email's in the profile.


Java said...

Good response. I hope "anonymous" sees it.

I know what you mean about Facebook. It's been seriously cutting into my blog time. I resisted it for a long time, but have recently been active there. But I miss the dialog of blogs. And a lot of the people I so enjoy on my blog list aren't in my facebook feeds. So I'm trying to get back to the blogs a bit. It's good to see something new from you. I hope you are well.


Frank said...

Facebook holdout here.

And recovering Catholic/christian as well.

The journey continues.

Greg said...

Well-said, my friend, and welcome back. FB can be a distraction for me, too...but I'm trying to find the balance between that and blogging, as they are each good for the soul in different ways.

I like your thoughts here. It's always a shame when one stereotype of a particular group overpowers any real picture of that group to outsiders. But I guess we knew that, eh?

Ur-spo said...

I was so delighted to see you posting, I will demur the contents/process for a later time: plenty of time for that! - welcome 'home'.

rottenqueerchristian said...

If you're a gay Christian, you make neither happy.

BadgerBear said...

I echo what Joe said. I seek the Holy, the Sacred, and I am a follower of the message of Jesus. I am no longer a member of any of his churches, however. I stopped attending when it became clear that even though I had been both baptized and confirmed into the "body of Christ", I was not allowed to have all of the sacraments that that implied. I've spent my life singing at straight people's weddings, but I can't have one too? Done with this game.

I think that the church and Religion has accreted many, many beliefs around Jesus' simple and central message of "love one another", and I think that's where the problems lie.

So, I'm with you, Joe. Lets talk more about this.


Anonymous said...

Great to see you back. I've missed your posts, but enjoyed following you on your sabbatical. You responded with grace and wisdom to your critic. Keep up the good work. Again, glad you're back on line. Bill on the Left Coast.

Jeremiah Andrews said...

Why are we Christian? The eternal question. I guess because we love God. It is in what we do, not so much what we say that shows our commitment to the almighty.

I hope he comes back and follows. You live your calling and your life. I am glad to see you posting here and over there.

South Africa may have put new words in your head and heart and hopefully you will unpack some of them over time. I look forwards to that myself.

I am headed to Cape Town in a few months. We should talk some time.

Good job ...


Michael Dodd said...

About Facebook: It is not pure evil, of course, but then ... I finally surrendered to it because it is the only way to keep track (and see photos) of my nieces. nephew and their kids. The younger (youngest?) generation doesn't even email anymore.

As for the basic question, I find it hard even to answer the question "Do you believe in God?", because I figure I would have to say "Not in the way you probably mean that." Does this mean I am an atheist? Not so much.

I sometimes call myself
theophoboumenos -- God-fearer in the New Testament sense of pagans who accepted and honored much of the Jewish tradition and its God but did not fully enter into the institution and all the details of ritual. I even considered creating an online community -- the Community of St. Cornelius (for the centurion in Acts 10) -- for people of like mind. Perhaps that project will emerge again someday.

Meanwhile, keep bearing witness to the bigger vision. As far as I can tell, about the only thing Jesus told us about Heaven is that in his Father's house, there's lots of room. Would that all the followers of Jesus -- no matter what they call themselves -- were able to believe that, and that all of us -- no matter what we call ourselves -- could work to make this life and our faith communities a reflection of that expansive vision.

Sorry to be so wordy!

Birdie said...

So glad to see you back here!

So much of what you've said is an echo of my own situation in regards to faith. It is not to be used as a weapon or standard but to be taken inward for one's own solace and journey. The act of surrender to the mystery has brought me such peace that undergirds all the chaos of life—which seems to be especially targeting me in recent years. I don't think I could have survived without it.

This faith, which has been labeled "Christianity," is a deeply personal journey, and each person's is unique in spite of doctrinal definitions. I find it a means to connect while others use it to divide. I think in this you and I are spiritual siblings.

Topper said...

Welcome back! I have missed your blog discussions. Although i have a facebook page i use it minimally. Also a very good response to the comment. Being christian is really all about a personal relationship with the Holy. As a recovering gay Baptist, i can say its not about rigid theology, or a list of what not to do. Its about the truth that sets one free to be who you are with Christ the Lord of life in your life. Joe I hope this one contacts you further.

Cubby said...

Good to see you making a post. It is sad when people feel the need to make rude comments then hide behind an anonymous sign-in. It's pathetic, really. You handled it so well, I'm very impressed.

Anonymous said...

miss your posts, Just started back blogging

Ur-spo said...

I stop by regularly, hoping you will post. Alas, it looks like you have put down the pen, as it were.