So what's up with me? I mean, do I have an agenda? Am I out to insult the sincere Christians in the world?
Of course not. Some of my best friends.... (you know the drill). And while I love the saints, I hate the unexamined life and culture.
So I'm out to expose the crazy-making, not the sincerity.
Because I want to. Because it helps me and some other people who read here. When I was in that deconstructing process myself, I looked everywhere to find someone who'd listen and help me think, reason and clarify.
I found out pretty quickly that Christians can't do it. Once you say something that appears critical, the closest you get is "Well, that may be true of some obscure minority that I've never heard of, but you must have had a very Unique Strange Hurtful Doctrinally Incorrect experience in Christianity because what you express is not at all normative nor correct."
Oh really? You don't recognize any of this in your church?
Well, then some of the nice ones come back and acknowledge that Yes, of course, there are excesses, and you can find extreme people in every group, but the truth is, there are lots more people who have better theology, who are loving and kind, who don't do the weird things you cite on your blog, who see faith as mysterious, who act generously, and so on... You overstate the case, they say.
That line of reasoning reminds me of arguing with my husband. You know how you get frustrated and say, "You never take the garbage downstairs after you take it out of the can." And then he's all, "That's not true. I take it out sometimes." But like, the point wasn't the frequency of his taking it out. It was the fact that today and enough times previous he hadn't and now you feel all up in his grill about it and want him to get just how irritating it is so you say "never" to get his attention, but that diverts it to a semantic argument until one of you attacks the other with a pillow and wrestles him onto the bed for a make-out session... Oh wait. TMI? Sorry.
Anyway, the point being... the emphasis in "overstating" or in what I consider "isolating" a behavior is to draw specific undiluted attention to the issue. Why would that be helpful? Why is it helpful for your bank to pay undiluted attention to each deposit or withdrawal on your account? Do you really want them to get it right "mostly" and to be generous to themselves as they process your experience of your bank statement?
H-e-double hockey stix no!
And while Christians are human beings with flaws (hopefully your bank is a machine without them), they are guided by what is called Absolute Truth. I'm looking at the damaging impact of that overarching belief on flawed human beings (not the good that that belief does) and expressing it here. That's the focus. That's the agenda.
I isolate behaviors because they affect (on balance) how everyone feels about Christians (all of them, regardless of what brand they are because the general population doesn't make the nit-picky distinctions between varieties that Christians make). Most Americans get a general impression and that impression is based on real, concrete, frequent applications of Christian identity to issues of faith, salvation, community, moral posturing, and (some would say, regrettably) politics.
So I bring that stuff here. But not every day.
I also like writing about postmodern theologies, feminism, black theology, Bonhoeffer, and the Jesus Seminar. Those interest me even more, though I don't write about them as often. But it appears by sheer number of posts that besides my fan-girl enthusiasms for Los Angeles, Tiger Woods in his red Nike underarmour, the Bengals when they win (which this season is like never) and the obviously clever, original comments of my children, deconstructing Christianity takes up the bulk of my posts.
But it seems like you have an ax to grind because you can't stop talking about it.
Well, yeah! I do. I might have to talk about it forever. Because if the only people who have anything to say about what it's like to leave that brand of faith stop talking, there is nowhere for those who are in that deconstruction process to go. They need writers like me. I need bloggers like them. And those are the people who like to read here (at least it seems like it; they never complain).
Are my experiences representative of evangelical Christianity? Of course, they are. I've got the resume to back it up. Are they the sum total of Christianity? Of course they aren't. But I'm not writing to be balanced or to describe the whole of Christianity. I went to graduate school to learn how to do that and it worked.
And as I thought about it all in the shower while shaving my legs, I realized that what I like? What really makes me happy?
...is creating a space for people who need to talk about their evolving disenchantment with Christianity.
It's a singular, startling, mostly liberating, sometimes painful, relationally isolating experience. Blogs and forums help.
If you're looking for balance or someone to find the jewels in the midst of the manure, go read someone else's blog.
For those who enjoy my writing, thank you. It's really gratifying to read your deeply thoughtful comments that contribute to me and the others who read and post here. And all of it's a lot of fun.