This I Believe…
Recently, I was asked, “Where are you spiritually?"
I have had that thought running through my mind ever since. It is not an easy question to answer. So, I decided to pattern my response based on the radio segment, This I Believe. During its four-year run on National Public Radio (NPR), this segment invited engaged listeners in discussions of core beliefs that guide their daily lives.
This is what I believe:
I am not a traditional or conservative Christian. Instead, I consider myself to be a progressive Christian. However, I have not fully figured out what that exactly means. I don’t believe it simply means inclusive language and token gestures. It must mean more, but I am not sure what that is…yet. I am still working on that. I have several perspectives that inform my progressive Christian identity. These are:
- The Bible was written by people, for a specific audience with a specific purpose in mind. We need to make sure we are aware of that when we read it.
- The Bible provides profound truths and wisdom but is not an accurate historical account.
- Many of our Christian symbols and rituals draw on pagan and non-Judeo-Christian cultures.
- Many Bible stories have similarities to stories in other ancient cultures and we do not have exclusive rights to claiming them.
- I am not sure what or who “God” is. Is he an old man looking down from the clouds who watches my every move? The collective conscience of the human race? In stardust? In the soul of every living thing? Regardless, I believe it is not crucial for me to know what or who “God” is.
- Christianity and science can sit together very nicely in my brain. I do not have to choose one over the other.
- Jesus was a real person -- a Jew who was a profound and powerful teacher.
- Questions are important, and once we think we are close to having the answers, we usually just end up with more questions.
- Doubt is not a sin but is necessary to hone your beliefs.
- It is not my job to judge. I need to be open and welcoming to people no matter where they are on their personal faith journey and whether or not I agree with them.
- There are many paths to that which we call “God”. Our journeys are not the same and that is okay.
- We can and should borrow from various faith traditions. Doing so enriches us.
- I don’t really know a “right way” to pray. But I do know that holding someone or some situation up with hopeful and healing thoughts is sometimes the best I can do.
- Honoring and protecting nature is core to my belief system.
- Horrible things have been done and continue to be done in the name of Christ. We need to own that as a part of our Christian history and learn from it to move forward.
- All lives matter. But we need to be strong enough to know that there are marginalized people who we need to lift up. So yes, I do say and believe: “Black Lives Matter.” This does not mean that other lives don’t matter. It simply means that we are acknowledging that we have lived in a society where institutional racism exists and we are trying to work at changing that.
- We are called to radical hospitality. That means we welcome ALL. Straight, gay, old, young, able-bodied, disabled, people who look and sound like me, those who do not look or sound like me, and those who are of sound mind and those who are not. In addition, this means being open to those born in this country and those who were not. We are to be here to welcome them.
- In order to share community with you, we don’t have to share the same beliefs.
- The cute little saying “What would Jesus do?” may not be the right question. The right question may be: “What wouldn’t Jesus do?”
- Christianity is about trying, desperately at times, to follow Jesus’ example on how to live.
This list could go on and on. But I won’t bore you with that. I think this sums up my spiritual journey and the direction I’m headed. Sometimes the path forward is smooth and clear; at other times, it’s bumpy. Wherever it leads, the journey has been amazing and I have had the privilege to share it with the Saint Anne’s faith community.