Well, I may have hit on something. By starting Lent a week early, I may be building up karma credits. So far, I’m doing what I said I would do. And, this way, I figure I have 7 days I can slip up. . . .uh, maybe not.
The best Lenten discipline I ever did, one I actually then continued for another three years, was to wear a cross, visibly, every day in all situations. Those who know me theologically know that my theology is somewhere left of Jesus and I should never be confused with a conservative Christian. But when you wear a cross for all the world to see, you open yourself to all sorts of conversations. During that Lent, and the years following, I did a lot of evangelism (which does not come naturally to me), a lot of explanation (huh? what kind of Christian am I, anyway?) and a lot of listening. It enriched my life and informed my faith in ways I can’t even begin to enumerate.
I have many crosses and some are quite dramatic. Like the ones made out of horseshoe nails, or with inlays of black stone, or just simple Celtic crosses. And I wore them all. Everybody wanted to comment and engage me in conversation and some people were terrified that I was going to do some serious Bible thumping. Now, I actually know my Bible pretty well (although not as well as Jenny does) but I don’t believe in Scripture as a weapon of evangelism. I’m much more an inviting Christian than one who chases you down the street, threatening you with hell. Since I don’t much believe in hell in any traditional way, it would be sort of pointless anyway. Sure, I can use Scripture to defend my point, and you never, ever want to play Bible Trivia with me if Jenny and I are on the same team, but I’m much more interested in the ways the world’s scriptures elucidate the great messages of love and community. So, folks who saw my cross and decided I shared their religious views often found themselves debating points of Islam, Judaism, Native American tradition, or even Wicca. I’m an equal opportunity believer.
Yes. I identify as Christian. I am also an American which makes me no less a citizen of the larger world and the even larger universe. Although I speak passable French (well enough to play Scrabble in) and can muddle through in Spanish if I have to, I am writing in English. Not because I believe English is inherently better than French or Spanish, but because I think in English most of the time. It is my milk tongue. And so is Christianity. I am fluent in Christianity in a way I am not in other religions although I can speak in the symbol systems of several faiths with varying degrees of ease. So I identify as a Christian, not because I believe it is the only way but because it is the way that makes the most sense to me. That doesn’t mean I believe in all its tenets. I did, after all, defect from the Trinitarians and am now happily Unitarian. There is much in the dogma that offends me and that I believe is irrelevant. But Jesus, the man and rabbi, is not irrelevant and I have decided to follow his lead.
So far, so good.