I am a recovering "professional Christian." I'm seeking a community of faith (and of questioning faith) that is more inclusive, radically ecumenical and inter-faith, less bureaucratic, less doctrinal and tribal, more loving, less institutional and denominational, for worship that is more experiential and eclectic, and that seeks wisdom from a variety of wise people and world religious traditions.
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Words change meanings as they are used in shifting contexts. Words like "bad," "cell," and "gay" have different meanings in contemporary culture than they did a few decades ago. Some words get hijacked and co-opted for purposes of propaganda and cultural shorthand. Some are diluted and tarnished by narrow association with certain stereotypes "validated" by limited experience. Back in the day I was upset that Coke would declare that their product "adds life." Now Subaru claims to about love. The notion of "church" has been tarnished by its own history and by contemporary experiences of churches that are perceived to be cold, unwelcoming, boring, and irrelevant. The descriptor "evangelical Christians" has been lazily defined by its use in the media and its narrow association with White Christian Nationalism. Scholar and writer Diana Butler Bass recalls her embrace of evangelical Christian faith that predates the politically co-opted stereotypes with which it has been saddled:
The 1970s was a time when many millions of Americans got “born again.” We became evangelicals because it was counter-cultural movement, energetic, spiritually-alive, and cared about big issues of justice. I call it “liberationist evangelicalism.” And frankly, I’m wishing for its rebirth.
I wandered into an evangelical church, and hearing about a Jesus who called the lost, a sense of warmth and security embraced me. I found Jesus; I found myself. That conversion gave me a new sense of confidence, purpose and freedom. Indeed, Jesus liberated me. I did not become an evangelical because I wanted to be racist…I didn’t hope for an apocalypse and didn’t think Democrats were evil or going to hell. The Jesus I encountered in those years saved the lost and set captives free. (1)
I want my identity back. It's been stolen. I refuse to let others define my Christianity. Writer and former priest Barbara Brown Taylor declared in a radio interview, "I am the one who gets to define what kind of Christian I am." I'd add, only Jesus gets to define what kind of Christian I am. (2)
(1) https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/15/opinions/white-evangelicals-after-trump-butler-bass/index.html, accessed 8/5/21.
(2) Excerpted from American Idols, Gods of the Region - an open letter to my Christian kin.
American Idols: Gods of the Region: An Open Letter to My Christian Kin: Hughes D.Min., Chris B.: 9798715820471: Amazon.com: Books