They are Christian…
I’m quite private about my Christianity, aside of this blog at any rate, I don’t talk to people about it and I think a lot of that stems from the fact there is still a part of me that is embarrassed to be a Christian. I have spoken about that at length here and here, why it took me so long because of all the people who shout about their Christianity, and it seems to be consisting of hatred.
I’ve always really strongly dissociated myself with those Christians, those who spend a lot of time shouting about their christianity, and how everyone except them is wrong, God hates them and they will go to hell. I’ve always said, I don’t think that’s real Christianity, I don’t think that’s what Jesus would say. I always have to end up qualifying my Christianity.
Listening to the On Being pocast this week, one of my favourite podcasts which I highly recommend, was a conversations between Imam Abdullah Antepli and Rabbi Sarah Bassin.
Imam Antepli said:
I feel very passionate about this: solution to the ills and the evils of our communities are not disowning them. It is so easy and cheap and quick to say, “ISIS is not Muslim. Hezbollah is not Muslim. Hamas is not Muslim.” You can’t say that. As much as they turn my stomach upside-down, as much as I am disgusted, what they represent, I cannot disown it. I cannot say, “Osama bin Laden is not Muslim”.
[The] Solution is not to divorce ourselves from our moral responsibility. We have to own this cancer, and we have to defeat it in its theological, ideological ground, and we have to defeat it in its social, political, and cultural ground.
That sat really uncomfortably with me, it made me think and question how I see these Christians who spend their time spewing hatred. It made me realise that one way to counteract these messages is to say that yes I am a Christian and I don’t believe what they believe. I don’t believe that because Jesus’s primary message is of love. His message is not one of hatred, Yes, these people are Christians, but it is not the only interpretation of the Christian faith and actually I think they’ve got it wrong because of these things.
They also talked about how it is always the crazy people who get the publicity. The Imam said we are sitting here having this really great conversation in front of all these people and it is not going to get covered in the news, but if I were to smash the Rabbi over the head with a pipe that would be on the front page of the New York Times.
It’s really easy for the media to give the ‘crazy people’ (I don’t like to use the word crazy in this way as it is pejorative to mental health issues, but that is the word the Imam used) it’s always the people with the extreme views, the radical views who get the coverage, of course it is, the media is not built on sharing stories that everyone is having a good time, a nice time.
How can us ‘ordinary’ Christains counteract this?
I don’t know, like most things I don’t have the answer. But maybe I could be a little less reticent about admitting I’m a Christian.
Maybe I could just say in passing I’ve been to church?
I never want to be the sort of person who turns into a Bible Basher, this is exactly the sort of thing which put me off of becoming a Christian in the first place. But I know that one of the people who helped me on my path to Christianity was my mentor when I was teacher training. I knew that her and her husband were Christians, I can’t remember how I knew that (we became good friends outside of college), so it wasn’t in a head smacking way, but I knew it was a big part of their lives. and I really liked their lives, I liked how they lived their lives, how she interacted with students and our colleagues, it really positively influenced their lives.
Maybe this is something I could do? I don’t know…
I think more than anything, this conversation gave me pause to reflect, I literally ground to halt when I was walking. Yeah I do that, I denounce these Christians and I hide my Christianity in response to it, like some Muslims hide their faith as a result of the actions of Isis, et al. I’m never going to become an evangelist, but maybe I can show by the way I live my life and occasionally, if it is appropriate, mention my faith, rather than hiding it from shame.