About a year ago, I wrote a short post, on a now defunct blog, entitled My Christian Faith. I still hold to those ideas, and the article can be read here, if you are interested. On ruminating further about this, following a particular conversation about Christianity, I feel I’d like to clarify my thoughts…
If I were born in the middle east, I may well be a Muslim, or a Sufi; if in the far east perhaps a Buddhist or a Jain, or in southern asia possibly a Hindu or a Sikh… but I wasn’t. I was born in the United Kingdom, Christian Europe. And I choose to embrace my history.
I was born to atheist parents in a pseudo-Christian culture. Most people paid lip service — my family didn’t even do that. But there I was, among a people doing their best to live well, while actually living rather badly, a people expressing ideals and daily undermining those same ideals. It was confusing, and as a child I had to tease out what actually mattered. It was a formative experience.
At school (thankfully, in a country that didn’t have a fake separation between church and state, creating a dichotomy, and thus a vacuum that becomes filled with fundamentalists) I had the opportunity to learn stories from my tradition, my Jewish/Christian ancestry, stories that, sadly, have been denied to my own children, brought up in the secular USA. I listened to the stories and I learnt. I learnt compassion, love, egalitarianism, fairness. I learned about minorities overcoming oppression, standing up for their beliefs and their rights. I learnt about waiting, stillness, patience, and I learnt about faith in the heart of despair. In short, I learned to be a socialist.
And ever since, I have been unable to separate those values: socialism and Christianity. They are intertwined for me, each one serving the other. It’s the values of faith over fear, kindness over self-interest, love over terror that are the motivating factors of my life.
I am a Christian because I choose to embrace the mystery. In no small way, I identify as a Christian in defiance of science, or more specifically, of this cult becoming known as “scientism”. Good, true science is a beautiful thing — it is an exploration, a seeking for the truth, but in recent times it has become a weapon against anything spiritual, anything unproven or unprovable. It’s that weapon I resist, and I hold on to my faith as a cloak against such righteousness.
The more we claim to “know” the more we cut ourselves off from the unknowable. I won’t use that knife, preferring instead to seek the glue to hold it all together. That glue is my Christianity, my faith in the wisdom I find hidden in the old and new testaments. It’s a little unorthodox perhaps, but it works for me, today.