We play a get-to-know-you game here at the 5 Kids blog called 5 Quick Questions wherein I ask you 5 questions and you answer them. Usually, I ask you to tell me important things, like “Fill in the blank: The last time I had to clean up something wet but not mine was __________,” or “Pick two: Beauty, brains, brawn or brownies.”
But I decided, given the Faith Series we’re (sort of) embarking on, to ask you 5 Quick Questions About Faith because I’m much more interested in facilitating an interfaith discussion than I am in a homogeneous conversation. Although homogeneous conversations where everyone agrees with my faith are RAD for justifying my beliefs, they’re, well, also terribly boring.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post in support of asking questions, even when those questions are hard to hear or tread on thin ice or make me want to rip my ears off. And one of the comments from that post stuck with me. On Facebook, Marissa Kent-White wrote:
“I totally agree w/you! I have a special needs kid, and I am not very PC, to be honest. It hurts my brain to have to always say “the right thing.” I am sensitive and aware (hell, I am a child-family therapist) but I am also an open, honest book. I believe (for me at least) that is the best way for me to process who we are as a family (an awesome one, duh!) and to educate other people. I believe we grow through experience, and asking questions and answering them challenges us to have those experiences. And being a Jew, we’re told to QUESTION EVVVVVERRRRrryyyyyTHING!!!! Hence the Rabbinical debates. No vows of silence here. BRING ON THE QUESTIONS, EVEN THE DUMB ONES.”
And here’s what I thought when I read that: Wait. WHAT?? Jews get to question EVERYTHING? THIS IS SO UNFAIR! Also, this Jewish Question-Everything thing sure does explain a lot about Jesus ’cause that guy questioned a Whole Lot of Things.
Truth is, I’ve never (ever, ever, ever) been part of a Christian church that actively encourages us to question everything. Like, ever. I mean, I’m part of a Christian church that loves me through and despite my questioning, and some folks there love me even because of my questions, but I do tend to upset some Christian people who don’t understand why I can’t just accept their well-thought-out answers. I think of myself as the butter in the group. Butttttttt, what about this? Buttttttt, what about that?
So when Marissa mentioned she’s TOLD to question everything?? I was surprised, and I had a serious case of faith envy. It got me to thinking about all the things I really don’t know about other faiths. Or perhaps even my own. But how do we meet people who aren’t like us? Where can we go? How do we find the trailhead to enter the beautiful wilderness of meeting people heart to heart?
I thought I would start by asking you questions. So here we go.
5 Quick Questions About Faith
- I am a(n) ________. (Christian, Jew, Atheist, Muslim, Chocolate Lover, Trekkie, Member of the Church of the Never Ending Laundry Pile, etc.)
- One of the stereotypes I hear a lot about my faith or lack of faith is _______. This is (true or false) because _______.
- One thing I wish people knew about my faith or lack of faith is ________.
- If I could apologize for one thing on behalf of my faith, it would be ________.
And here are my answers:
- I’m a Christian. I used to describe myself as a “follower of Jesus,” instead, because I wanted to disassociate myself from the very real emotional and spiritual damage some Christians have caused. I talk more about my journey back to embracing the “Christian” moniker in a post I like to call Authenticity, Asshattery, Faith and Fear. In addition to being a Christian, I’m a charter member of the Church of the Never Ending Laundry Pile and the Church of I Don’t Know What’s for Dinner STOP ASKING. I also really adore cheese.
- Hm. Why, huh? Who’s bright idea was this question? This is not a quick question. This is false advertising. Someone should sue. So, why? To be fair, I’m a Christian because I was raised in a Christian family and then when I tried to reject my faith, I found I couldn’t. Turns out, I actually believe this stuff. Maybe not all of what the universal Church tries to tell me; I don’t always buy their interpretation of the minutia of beliefs. But I believe absolutely that there’s a wideness in God’s mercy that is wider than the sea, and I believe with my whole heart that we were put here to learn Love, to be Love, to live Love. In the words of U2’s Bono (in what I believe is one of the greatest Christian interviews of all time), “You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that ‘as you reap, so you will sow’ stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts.” Love interrupts. I just adore that.
- Probably the biggest stereotype I hear about Christianity these days is that we’re anti-gay. This is undeniably true for some Christian groups. This couldn’t be further from the truth for me. I think gay people are the same as me, which is to say horribly, heroically human; awful and awesome and messy and magical and capable of causing great harm and also loving others to a vast, glorious, unreasonable depth and breadth. Sometimes all in the same day.
- One thing I wish people knew about Christianity is that we’re more than our infighting. More that our tedious theological discussions. More than either just haters or lovers. More than the myriad verses posted on Facebook. More than guilt-mongers. More than our loudest members. More than “a decision to follow Christ.” Actually, now that I think about it, that’s one thing I wish Christians knew about us, too.
- If I could apologize for one thing on behalf of my faith, it would be for all of the ways we’ve judged and belittled instead of embraced and loved. I’m sorry.
And now it’s your turn. How would you answer these questions? Please feel free to answer just 1 or 2 or fewer than 5. Or to ignore these questions entirely (which are really meant more as a writing prompt) and just tell us what’s on your heart. Or ask me or our community your own questions. It’s all fair game, friends, and I can’t wait to see what you say.
P.S. This is the 2nd post in the Faith Series, but I didn’t plan on it, so there’s definitely at least one more. A series of at least 3! Woot!
Glasses on Old Books image credit to adamr via freedigitalimages.net