“We were born sick”
You heard them say it
My church offers no absolutes
She tells me “worship in the bedroom”
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well
Take Me to Church – Hozier
I have been recently reconsidering my aversion to attending church. I think that this is a relatively important step in my spiritual growth, ironically, as a Pagan. I’m not saying that I’m ready to darken the door of my childhood Baptist church, but at least I’m not telling my Grandma that she goes to church with a bunch of narrow minded hypocrites. I try to keep those thoughts to myself…yet, with all the emphasis on inclusion and diversity, I am coming back to Christianity with a fresh mindset. We’ve seen and heard a lot of very divisive things here in the US over the course of the past year or two. There are people in positions of power who have misrepresented an entire faith by putting their ignorance on display. Thankfully though, there have been a number of Christians who have spoken up and said “HEY! We all don’t think that way!” It wasn’t until I was listening to a conversation recently that I came to the realization it is time to reevaluate how I feel about church and Christianity. I ended up overhearing someone remark that those “good” Christians are just a minority, and that most Christians were hell bent on reversing any and all “worthwhile” policies already in place. I quickly felt myself bristle and couldn’t keep my smart mouth in check. “HOW RUDE ARE YOU, YOU IGNORANT LIBERAL TWAT?! STOP THAT BROAD STROKE IDIOCY, RIGHT NOW!” (that wasn’t what I said, but that’s what I was thinking…)
That’s really when it dawned on me – I’ve spent a lot of time passively discrediting the voices and actions of “good Christians” because of my perspective that Christian = Hypocrite. If I’m trying to give a good example, a “normal” example, of how a Pagan acts, then why would I discount those who are truly reflecting their faith by thinking that they’re just an anomaly? I now feel a bit ashamed. Especially since I like to think I’m an open minded person, someone who is willing to hear different viewpoints without sticking my fingers in my ears and go “lalala I can’t hear yooooou ’cause you’re wrooooong!”
Which is the way I’ve more or less looked at church from age 16 onward. It took some reflection, some reading, and some inspiring Christians in my life to get me to take my fingers out. Now, I’m not trying to say that I will ever fully embrace Christianity again, but I do embrace Christians. I mean, I love my Grandma, the woman is a fairly devout Baptist and is very much involved in the church. I know that she is a kind and smart woman, and she deeply values the church community that has been a big part of life. There is also my partner’s mother – another very devout and compassionate woman whom I love. She is shaped by her faith and when I think of what a Christian is she is the first to come to mind. Then there are two of my co-workers, one a pastor and one a youth leader. There is my undergraduate chaplain and my religions professor. These people who have helped to shape my life, and my faith by extension, are Christians!
What I’m realizing is that these people are not good because they are Christian, they are Christian because they are good. They are just good people who follow a different faith than I. Holy Hera, if I haven’t been a hypocrite myself!
I think we, and I know I’m generalizing here, like to put labels on things in order to rationalize or justify things. I’m guilty of it – there is a control aspect that comes into play here, and a logic process that goes “well, if this person is X, then I know to do/say A, B, or C.” So often have I been guilty of literally tuning out some conversation because of references to the Bible, Jesus, or even the word “traditionally.” Yet, labels do no good in defining my faith, so why would I expect to define others? I’ve been fighting for the recognition that not all Pagans are X,Y, or Z but I have not ever moved to make the same case for any other religious traditions. And that’s wrong. We are one people, one community, when you get down to it. Yes, we are diverse of thought and feeling, but we have much more in common than we do different.
Oh me of little patience, of limited perspective… Gods help me to open my eyes and by extension my heart. Let me walk into church and not see the hypocrisy but see the Divine instead.
Writer, Wannabe Artist, Overthinker, List-Maker, Photographer, Chronic Under-Salter