I’m not proud to be Christian – and no one else should be, either by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir


I hear a lot of people talking lately about how they are no longer proud to be Christian. They point to the vocal conservative churches and leaders who support Trump, condemn and exclude LGBTQ people, oppress female bodies and sexuality, exhibit breathtaking racism, classism, sexism, nationalism, and ecocide… and they struggle to call themselves “Christian” anymore, in light of these shameful behaviors by modern American “Christianity.”

I completely understand. The most visible examples of self-identified Christian organizations and leaders in the US today make me cringe— or pale in horror. How could any ethically responsible moderate or progressive Christian want to be associated with such bigotry, violence, and dysfunction?

This cringing horror—this is not new for me. My entire life as a Christian living in the (relatively) secular, progressive northeast has involved frequent damage control. When I worked with young people, I had a tough job to undo and heal their damaging, toxic “Christian” ideas: No, you are not going to hell if you have sex before marriage. No, you are not an abomination. No, you are not inherently inferior because you are female. Yikes!

Adults, too: No, the divine is not a monster who killed your wife with cancer. No, your child did not die because you did not pray hard enough. No, your depression is not a symptom of your failure to have enough faith.

And of course, scandals have rocked churches since churches first formed. Clergy abuse. Indulgences. Telling women to shut up and let men oppress them (1 Timothy). Giving the best seats to rich people and telling poor people to go sit on the floor. (I guess James 2:3 had his hands full). Pretty disgusting, those Christians… who would possibly feel proud to be associated with that crap?

There’s this thing in social psychology called “Social Identity Theory,” developed by Henri Tajfel.  The gist is: we all want to feel good about ourselves, so we try really hard believe our identity groups are superior to other identity groups. We want to feel proud of our “ingroups” – racial/ethnic, religious, national, language, regional, even sports teams, music, hobbies, and our sex. Unfortunately, we tend to exaggerate differences between our ingroups and our outgroups (“those people”), and we try to ignore or minimize differences within our ingroups. We stereotype. We show positive bias toward people from our ingroups, and negative prejudice against people from our outgroups.

We also make excuses for people from our ingroups, when they do awful things. When an ingroup member hurts people, we minimize the damage done, justify it, or blame the victims. We must defend these awful ingroup leaders, or else our own self-esteem suffers, and we feel badly about ourselves by association.

The more a person gets her/his sense of self-worth from ingroup belonging, the more s/he will defend bad behavior by other ingroup members.

Of course, it’s always easiest to fall into this trap when one’s ingroups are privileged or dominant.

Here’s how it plays out:

—If I get a lot of my self-worth from being American, then I will justify the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the economic exploitation of poorer countries

—If I get a lot of my self-worth from being white, then I will deny that racism is a problem, justify police violence, and blame black victims of police violence— “AllLives Matter”

—If I get a lot of my self-worth from being male, then I will react defensively to #metoo, and I respond, “What about the men?” or “Not all men!”, consider feminists “man-haters,” and dismiss the overwhelming patterns of male violence.

Sometimes, even for the most well meaning people, who try really hard to avoid stereotypes, and combat prejudices… we can still fall into this trap of ingroup-based self-worth. Then, when members of our ingroups do awful things, in our shame, we try to dissociate from those groups.:

—If Trump gets elected, move to Canada.

—Unfriend that racist person instead of trying to change h/er views.

—Males who condemn toxic masculinity may try to reject masculine gender norms, or even maleness itself, and self-identify as not really male (even though they do not identify as transgender).

It would be so easy, wouldn’t it, if we could find the perfect ingroup? If we could find the perfect community, clan, religion, nation, ethnicity, etc… we could feel awesome self-worth, bask in how great we are because we are on the Right Team! Rest, relax, not have to worry about taking responsibility for the horrible crap done by “our people,” just sail along on a happy breeze of smug superiority.

Except, it doesn’t exist. There is not, and there has never been, a perfect human community. Humans are fallible, messy, flawed, imperfect creatures. Our communities are destined to make mistakes. That’s all the Bible is: a record of human communities trying desperately hard to figure out what matters most, how to have healthy community, and failing. And getting it right, and really, horribly wrong, learning from those mistakes, and trying again. That’s all we are doing now, every community on Earth: trying, failing, and trying again. Every religious community, atheist community, yoga club, environmental group, charity, political organization, and justice team.

There has never been reason to be “proud to be Christian.”

Christianity, like every major religion and secular ideology, has always consisted of humans with great ideas, terrible ideas, beautiful intentions, horrible intentions, wise insights, and horrendous mistakes. If a person gets h/er self-worth from being on the right team, s/he is doomed to failure. Whatever your religion or secular philosophy, don’t let it be a source of pride. Let it be a source of guidance, strength, comfort, community, and hope. Let it be a vehicle for advocacy, ethical outreach, making the world a better place. Let it be a place to make mistakes, to fail, and to find the courage to keep trying. You are worthy of love and respect, just as you are. You don’t need to point to your groups. You deserve love, healing, and wholeness. You can be a vessel of love, healing, and wholeness for others, wherever and whoever and whatever you are. You are enough. You are enough.

 

Trelawney Grenfell-Muir  teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. Previously a fellow at the Institute of Culture, Religion, and World Affairs and at the Earhart Foundation, Grenfell-Muir has conducted field research in situations of ongoing conflict in Syria, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland.  Her dissertation explores the methodology, constraints, and effectiveness of clergy peacebuilders in Northern Ireland. She has been an invited speaker in community settings and at MIT, Boston University, Tufts, and Boston College on topics of gender violence, economic injustice, and religious or ethnic conflicts and has also moderated panels on genetic engineering, cloning, and other bioethics issues. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.

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Categories: Belief, Bible, Christianity, Relationality

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46 replies

  1. I think a Christian who is in Christ will not be ashamed to be called a Christian. Real Christianity is of Christ, of God, and it doesn’t get to change because of the weaknesses and faults of people who represent Christianity. It’s not even a religion. I am still proud to be a Christian because when men fail me, I look to God, and I know He never failed me.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I kinda made a promise to myself that the I wouldn’t talk about the church abusing children by getting them to role play the marriage ceremony, in church – looks like Im now going to break that promise.

      I believe I am “a christian who is in Christ” and I am ashamed of/furious with people who also proclaim to be a christian, who allow this practice to continue.

      There is such a thing as ‘referred shame’ whereby someone you are close to, does a shameful action/non action and you can take that shame on as your own. The Church talks about family – when a family member engages in abusive/shameful behaviour, it has an impact on everybody else, and they invariably feel that shame. Certainly, when I first found out that my local Priest – someone I considered also to be a friend -was getting primary school children to role play the marriage ceremony, in church, with him as the officiating Priest, I was so ashamed, I could hardly bring myself to talk about it, not wanting to publicise the name of the church or their names, not wanting to bring them into disrepute – something, that over time, has changed, as Im sure members of this forum will validate.

      This is not the same as general “weaknesses and faults”.

      I agree that when I look to God, I know he never fails me.

      God bless

      Liked by 1 person

      • I believe you are a Christian who is in Christ, and I admire you for taking a stand against so-called Christians who give Christianity a bad name. As for me, I am not the regular church going kind of Christian and do not identify myself with any particular Christian church. It is more of a personal relationship that I have with Him. I am not perfect, and do not think myself worthy most of the time, but I’m grateful for what God has done and keeps doing for me. No matter if my situation in life may not be the best right now, I still know God is never deaf to my prayers and never blind to my plight… I just want to share that God’s heart is not like man’s heart. It’s sad when men do abusive stuff and call themselves Christians. We also have quite a few so-called Christian churches in my country, and some are behaving like cults while there are those that run their church like a business venture and are proud that they can greatly influence politics in my country. I believe when men do these things, they are serving their own purpose and not God’s. God bless you!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I’m glad you have a relationship with the divine that gives you comfort and strength when individual humans and human communities let you down. It reminds me – I like the scripture in 1 Cor about “when you boast, boast in the divine alone” – not in our associations with any particular community, not in ourselves, not in anything but the divine working within and through and around us, a divine that is much broader and more powerful than any human construct. Also, I don’t think any Christian should be ashamed to be called a Christian, either… shame is not a useful state, IMO. Guilt is useful – guilt motivates us to take responsibility for wrongs committed by people we are associated with, and try to right them, try to make amends, and make restoration. Shame, on the other hand, is paralyzing and self-defeating. I am neither proud nor ashamed to be Christian… I am Christian because it is a system that helps bring wellness inside and around/through me. The divine works within and through me via certain symbols of the Christian tradition. But ‘Christian” does not mean “member of a community that follows Jesus” – Christian means “little Christ.” So I try to let my identity as Christian motivate me to be Christ in the world however I can, knowing I will always fall short, and reaching for divine strength and wisdom to help me get up and keep trying. As you say… the divine never fails us. <3

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  2. I read the title of your piece and immediately agreed with the title/sentiment.

    I won’t bang on about the abuse the church is inflicting on our children, by role playing the marriage ceremony in church, as my passion for this subject has got me permanently moderated on this forum, but suffice it to say, I have taken off my cross and started to wear my pentacle – I have always identified with Goddess/Pagan beliefs, alongside my christianity – I personally don’t have a problem combining the two, although other people have immense difficulty with me combining the two – you have to be one or the other and Im not!

    True christian ideals, that I believe Jesus taught,I will always believe in, but I can no longer go to church services where I am either smilingly offered the hand of peace and then shunned after the service or shunned completely.

    I have a fantasy about attending a church service, perhaps on Christmas day, and wearing that pentacle with defiance/pride daring comment and I would then remind them that christian white men committed a holocaust type scenario on the women in this country, and worldwide and yet I remember no public apology, no repentence- no nothing!

    I believe those times had a profound effect and is a wound in our psyche that has never healed and manifests in many ways in this lifetime.

    When you have reached out to pagans to tell them about modern day church abuse as I have, the reactions are staggering.

    One young man, who is a friend of mine, didn’t read the article I gave him about abuse because it had got the word christian in the title!

    When you have been wrenched from the church community as I have, you realise that a lot of it is the social aspect. The bar b questions, fetes, cream teas etc. When you leave that behind, it can be very lonely and is a grief process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you. I do wear pentacles to church sometimes. And I agree, the reactions of people wounded in one way or another are staggering.

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  3. Thanks for this post, Trelawney — your irony is so delightful — the reason I love my fellow human beings is exactly because, as you say: “Humans are fallible, messy, flawed, imperfect creatures.” Yes, and so how could we not love them.

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    • Yes, exactly, Sarah! I can only love myself as much as I can love other messy, imperfect people… so there it is, the only way! <3

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  4. Trelawney, you hit this one out of the ballpark for me. When I read only the title I was going to skip the article. But….. this blog site has taught me so much! Thank you. I was raised to “be proud” of my Irishness till a high school teacher I teased about her “orange” dress on St. Patrick’s Day practically spit at me as she replied, “I’m NOT a CATHOLIC!” I returned to my desk stunned and shamed. At 17 I was still an “Irish Eyes are Smiling” American Catholic oblivious to my ancestral pain, oppression, poverty, humiliation, etc. Feeling ashamed and confused by my teacher’s remark (as I often was about sexual talk because I was the untaught daughter of ages of untaught daughters) I didn’t even ASK anyone about what she might have meant by the tone of her words.
    But as I read on, yes, as Sarah commented, I saw the irony and the deep teaching of Jesus who loved the fallible and flawed most of all. I do wade in the waters of the pride-full, and simultaneously wrestle with feelings of shame about being Catholic (still????) and American because of the actions of my forefathers and foremothers and my contemporaries. But your piece reminds me so well to keep on walking hand in hand with my own flawed self and my brother and sister humans and the trees and animals and all the earthly delights for exactly who and what we are, as we learn to SPEAK and TAKE ACTION, inspired by and in response to each other’s actions and words. Pride goeth before awakening!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, what a poignant and powerful story. Thank you for sharing it. I love your perspective. I agree, and it is impossible NOT to feel pride and shame associated with our in-groups – it is just basic human psychology. My hope is, as you say, that we can just keep walking and striving to learn how to love ourselves enough not to need the pride or the shame. Bless your journey! <3

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  5. Your wrote; “Whatever your religion or secular philosophy, don’t let it be a source of pride. Let it be a source of guidance, strength, comfort, community, and hope.”

    Excellent advice, perhaps for all relationships, including friendships, partnerships of all kinds, marriages.

    I also want to say I resonate with what Helen says about being able to hold both goddess/pagan beliefs along with the teachings of Jesus. I never found a community where I could do both explicitly.

    For 18 years I facilitated earth-centered celebrations at a community that was utterly non-institutional. That community had its own organic life span. We never sought to encode or perpetuate it. Although we no longer have the center where we met or any one center, per se, many of the friendships continue and people continue to celebrate in a variety of ways.

    I also kept thinking, as I read the post, that it is not only contemporary American Christianity that can bring shame to believers. We can’t forget the crusades, the inquisition, the witch burning and hanging. The use of scripture to justify slavery, the complicity of some church officials with the Nazis. Of course many Christians have also drawn on their faith and risked their lives for justice. Such a mixed bag, like everything humans create.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Elizabeth… it’s a long, intensely mixed history, just as all human history is, and there’s never been a time when it was only good or only bad– not in any community, ever. I also resonate with following a goddess/pagan path, though I am increasingly seeing it more as an early Celtic Christian-Druid path from my ancestral home of Cornwall. I’ve found some online Christian-Pagan/Christopagan etc facebook groups, which are nice places where I can avoid the anti-Christian vitriol of most pagan communities, and the anti-pagan vitriol of most Christian groups (though the Progressive Christians facebook groups have a lot of pagans and are quite supportive) — but IRL communities are uniquely important, and I haven’t found that either. I hope someday! Bless your journey. <3

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  6. Way to go, Trelawney! I have long believed that so-called Christians should reread and pay close attention to the Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beatitudes. They should act what they read there. As for the Trumpic so-called Christianity, I just don’t know. I think a lot of it derives from the same OT books starring the jealous, punitive god the Puritan fathers preached about. I’m reading a novel set in 1666 in England during one of the Black Plagues. The preacher in this novel says God gives us ills and misfortune in life so we’ll have painless lives in heaven. Oh, yeah?? I get more depressed every day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yikes, I hear you. It’s so hard not to be depressed at the state of the world/this country these days. I think a lot of the stories in the Bible are there as critiques of the leaders and communities… examples of how and when the community got things very wrong, which later prophets critique. But of course, fearful leaders and communities will miss that purpose and use them to make the same mistakes over and over. Inevitably. I hope you can find sources of comfort and hope in these painful times, Barbara. Every blessing to you! <3

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  7. Thank you, Trelawney. I’m one of those people torn between shame, and the reality you described – “life is messy” – even Christian life. Especially appreciated the thought: “Whatever your religion or secular philosophy, don’t let it be a source of pride. Let it be a source of guidance, strength, comfort, community, and hope.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Barbara. It’s so easy to feel shame, isn’t it? I see shame as the other side of the coin of pride… and both come from the longing to feel worthy of love and respect. I hope we can find healthy ways to ease our innate fears and longings, so we can nurture peaceful, just communities. <3

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  8. As an aside, I think you may have mis-read James. My understanding of that bit of scripture is that James was preaching NOT to curry favour with the rich, but to honour/respect the poor as well. He says that if you just pay attention to the one wearing fine clothes, “have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”

    The bible is a difficult one. Many many christians hold it to be the infallible word of God and it is nigh impossible to argue them out of this view!

    For myself, as a channeller, I asked Spirit if this was the true of word of God and I was told it was, but written through the filter of man.

    I feel we have a very sanitised view of the past – even today, on the Wright Stuff, I heard Matthew Wright refer to the burnings of the witches as a few old women, presumably with warts on their chins. The reality was very different.

    Through fear, women ‘snitched’ on other women, daughters testifying against their mothers – whole families ripped apart. Anything not to be tortured and murdered by white christian men. The torture techniques were beyond barbaric and yet, on some levels, today, it’s as if it didn’t happen. OMG

    To get the full impact of what occurred, in the name of christianity, I pay tribute to our ancestors with the following poem:

    TRIGGER WARNING

    For all those who died -stripped, naked, shaved and shorn.
    For all those who screamed in vain to the Great Goddess, only to have their tongues ripped out by the root.
    For those who were pricked, racked, broken on the wheel for the sins of their Inquisitors.
    For all those whose beauty stirred their torturers to fury; and for those whose ugliness did the same.
    For all those who were neither ugly or beautiful, but only women who would not submit.
    For all those quick fingers broken in the vice.
    For all those soft arms, pulled from their sockets.
    For all those budding breasts, ripped with hot pincers.
    For all those midwives, killed merely for the sin of delivery man into an imperfect world.
    For all those witch-women, my sisters, who breathed fear as the flames took them, knowing as they shed their female bodies, the seared flesh falling like fruit in the flames, that death alone would cleanse them of the sin for which they died – the sin of being a woman who is more than the sum of her parts.

    “Life is messy”? “Humans are fallible, flawed imperfect creatures”? No, life can sometimes be a bloodbath and sometimes humans are evil. Do I love evil? I can perhaps use loving tactics when dealing with evil people, but do I love them? not really.

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    • Thank you for sharing your powerful poem. I actually agree with you about James – he was critiquing the behavior of his Christian community because THEY were currying favor with the rich. So it was the community, not James, who was messing up. James was trying to help them get back on track… like so many leaders have done for so long.
      I agree with you about the bloodbath, too. When I say life is messy, I don’t mean it to diminish the horror humans do. I mean that there is no perfect, neat, easy division between “good people” and “bad people’ in different religions or countries or cultures… there is no neat, simple identity group people can join and just never have to feel like their in-group has done anything wrong. When I say humans are fallible, flawed, and imperfect, that’s exactly what I’m talking about – every day, the coffee/tea/cocoa I make and drink costs a small amount. That small amount of money could save the life of a starving child across the world. I don’t think about that starving child when I drink my coffee. I turn my face away from the evil I do when I choose to spend my money on coffee rather than using it to save the life of a child who is most likely starving because of the actions of people in my in-groups – my country, my privileged, highest carbon-footprint, imperial colonizer people. How can I be so evil? How can I kill children, every single day? Just because the causal chain between my decision and the consequence is long, does not change the fact that it is still the consequence I caused. The long causal chain just allows me to pretend otherwise. I’m no better than the people who burned the witches. Maybe I would never do that exact thing, but I am just as flawed, inherently flawed. And if I am ever going to be able to love myself enough to keep trying to be a better human, I need to stop pretending I’m better than anyone else, more worthy of love than anyone else.
      I know this is not a popular idea. It may even cause offense. I see it as the only truth able to help humans move beyond shame and pride to wellness. I respect that others will disagree. Peace to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Trelawney, thank you for this essay and your insightful responses to commenters. This response caught my attention because it reminds me of something I posted recently elsewhere and wanted to share with you in the context of understanding our own individual capacity for evil:

        As I finally finished reading “The American Soul” by the philosopher and theologian Jacob Needleman, I was struck by a few humble sentiments in the summation:
        “The real conscience almost always arises in the pain of one’s own vision of one’s moral betrayals. Only through seeing the crime in oneself does the power of conscience and moral reason actually take fire and become a force that can move mankind.”
        and
        “While striving outwardly to eradicate injustice, it is imperative that humanity strive inwardly to feel the sorrow of its own capacity for evil. … One needs to try to enter into the position not only of the victim, but of the oppressor.”

        Blessings to you.

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      • Hi – it’s not actually my poem – I’ll try and find the author, although I think it was anonymous.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Daria, thank you for that wonderful quote you shared… both of them. I really love them. Words to live by, for sure. Sounds like a good book! Blessings to you as well.

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  9. Great article. Totally agree. Let’s add this to our chat when you come on the show!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I really appreciate the nuances of this article and the paradoxical issue it acknowledges.
    I think the more our identity involves being assured of our “rightness” in our religion, politics or spirituality, the easier it will be for others to shame us and, if we are willing to look at ourselves, to shame ourselves when we realize the shortcomings of our approach. Many people I meet are perfectly content to spend their time shaming the out-group members they encounter instead of taking a hard look at themselves. I’ve also met people so tied to their particular identity that they lacked emotional flexibility to renegotiate things when that identity was exposed as less than perfect.
    I think it is acceptable to be proud of an identity, especially if it is hard-fought to wear it given society’s judgment of it, because I think there is a type of pride that comes from the inside, from mature spirituality, whereby a person does all the positive things you mentioned and does not waste their time concerned about which team everyone is on, who is ahead, and who dropped the ball. The game of Schadenfreude is always afoot, and we must be nimble to avoid seeking or falling into its target.

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    • Thank you, Suzanne. I appreciate your wrestling with these ideas so eloquently. I agree that we can be proud… so long as our pride is not tied to our self-worth as categorically defined by being in one identity group rather than another. I think healthy pride is more a celebration than a competition. I agree that it comes from inside, from a place of security rather than fear. Nimble, yes! Lovely image there.

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  11. Amen! This is an erudite and stunning article – I agree with virtually everything you said.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s an interesting addition to the conversation about Pride that the queer community has brought us – I will never forget the pastor (Rev. Tiffany Steinwert) of the Cambridge Welcoming Ministries United Methodist Churh (an outreach church to the queer community) saying, “you are welcome here, not despite who you are, but because of who you are.” I also remember the ways in which that church could also fall into the trap of feeling superior than others because of the in-group dynamics that you identify. Is there a way to talk about “Pride” that doesn’t involve “in-group identity”? Or is it that people who have been shamed for their identity have to reclaim pride in their identity, before they can hear this message? Or is it a different kind of Pride?

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    • I think you’ve hit on it exactly… when a group is generally shamed because of their group identity, then they often need to go through a process of claiming pride in that identity before they can transcend group-based self-worth. If they can’t transcend it, and they gain some cultural or subcultural respect, what develops is a double-victim mentality wherein the group dynamics I discuss in the blog come into play – people refuse to admit to wrongdoing by in-group members, or they refuse to examine their community for how it is acting violently toward members or nonmembers, etc, and members never actually feel true self-worth, only a kind of defiant, fearful rejection of the way they have been previously shamed and put down. It’s a warrior modality, and it can be necessary to move forward – it just isn’t a healthy end point. So the sexism in the Occupy movement or in the queer community, or the racism in feminism, etc, can be hard to work on until/unless members can move beyond that frame. That movement takes a lot of work to heal both individual and communal wounds. I believe that ultimately, healthy pride is like healthy confidence and self-love, in that it is not in comparison with anyone, not in competition with anyone, not based in fear or a need to prove anything. I don’t mean to judge anyone who isn’t there yet – heaven knows we all have our traps and moments – but this is IMO the place to set our sights.

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  13. Hi, Trelawney, I think you nailed it. On a scale of 1-10 I give this article a 12!

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  14. I too can identify with your title, although I personally have gone a step beyond and *kept* the title Christian, because a) I don’t see why the nasty types should hijack my inheritance, and b) I want to try to illustrate, by my life, what a Christian really is. I used to use the phrase ‘Jesus follower’, and/or any other number of ‘alternative’ names to label myself. But nowadays I don’t really ‘do’ labels anyway; and the other thing is that any and every term we use to describe ourselves as an ‘alternative’ (i.e. ‘nice’) Christian would get hijacked by the toxics anyway, to try and make themselves appear more acceptable. How many churches with ‘Grace’ in their title do you know, where they don’t understand Grace at all? ;)

    So, in the end, I simply call myself what I want to, and hang their opinions out to dry :D

    Anyhow, what an excellent piece, Trelawney. Great in so many ways, it’s hard to pick out any highlights… but I would love to reblog this if it’s ok with you.

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    • Well said, Tony!

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    • Thank you, Tony! I actually agree with you completely… I did not mean to imply that I had left the term “Christian” behind; I have not. I do mix it with other labels (ecofeminist mystic universalist, etc) but I wrote this partly to help other Christians realize that they do not need to relinquish the “christian” identity just because other self-identified “christians” believe and behave in ways we find unethical or even horrifying. Labels are limiting and problematic, but we humans end up using them – because we have to categorize our world in order to process it, there is just too much information to process without categorizing anything. So IMO we need to find healthy approaches to labels, because unhealthy approaches just add to violence and oppression.
      You’re welcome to reblog it!

      Liked by 4 people

  15. Hmm. Am I allowed to say I dont know if I liked this article or not. Save America or the world? Save dignity or blame the biased, Im not proud to be a Christian/ mix up with Christian pagan religion. As educated as you are, you might take a look into exactly what your preaching here. God, is King. Isnt our relationship with him that matters the most, Im afraid you lost me when you combined politics and say so worldly trends and events with the real deal. Your not proud to be a Christian. Thats just a new title, a new way to express your educated and defiantly privileged mind into writing a trendy idea, to some I agreed with. I do not care about getting deeply involved within the secular decentralization of things. Are you with God, or stand firm routed into your own pious opinions to change your religion? Sorry, I do not mean to be offensive. Just wondering whats between the lines.

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    • Hmmm, I’m not sure I follow you, but I will try to answer your questions as best I can.
      –“Save America or the world?” I don’t understand this question. But to me, as a Christian, I feel called to transcend all national boundaries and worldly divisions, and never put my own group above other groups just because of a line on a map. As the hymn says, “In Christ there is no East nor West, in Christ no North or South; but one great fellowship of Love throughout the whole wide Earth.”
      –“Save dignity or blame the biased” — I don’t understand this question, either… I’m all for dignity. My Christian faith calls me to see each human and all of Creation as inherently imbued with the dignity of the divine, and thus my responsibility to preserve that dignity and treat humans and nonhumans with dignity. I also claim my own dignity in the image of the divine, and my body as a temple of the Spirit. I don’t think “blaming” any group of people (the biased?) helps much… we are all biased, every one of us, and that’s important work for each person to do.
      –“I’m not proud to be a Christian/mix up with Christian pagan religion” – The reason I have explored paganism and Druidry has nothing to do with the issue of pride. I first felt drawn to these movements because I see the divine as equally female and male, and beyond both. So I started using female words and symbols for the divine about 18 years ago. I also have always had a mystical, nature-based approach to my Christian faith, and I noticed that paganism and Druidry prioritized that nature connectedness. But lately, I’ve been most drawn to early Celtic Christianity, which, so far as I can tell, was also very mystical and nature-connected. I wrote this article in part to help people realize that just because they feel horrified by what other Christian leaders or churches are doing, does NOT mean they should feel like the have to leave Christianity or stop calling themselves Christian. Maybe that point did not come through very well.
      –“God is King” – that’s an interesting symbol for the divine. I recognize that it has been used as a symbol for the divine for thousands of years, and I respect people’s desire to use it now. Personally, I find that monarchial symbols and male symbols have too much weight of oppression and sexism for me to feel comfortable using them. I find them painful. I would say it differently… the divine, God/ess, Source of all, the Holy One – is the Ultimate, is everything, is Creator and Creation and the Wisdom, Guide, and Breath, the animating Life Force, the Power of Life-Love-Good that continually births and heals all that is.
      –“Isn’t our relationship with [the divine] what matters most?” I agree with that – love of the divine and love of neighbor are what matter most, as Jesus said. I also see healthy self-love as inherent to love of the divine and love of neighbor – to me, they are the same love. To love any one of the three properly requires proper love of the other two. So we are called to seek healing for all our brokenness and diseases so that we may be sources of healing for others as well. I’m Methodist, and Wesley had a lot of good points on this topic, about the way the Spirit calls us and we respond, and that helps us hear and respond more, the more we orient ourselves to the Spirit and to healing divine Love.
      –“combine politics and worldly trends with the real deal” – I am just doing what all the biblical writers and preachers have always done – we may have fancy names for it nowadays, such as “psychology”, but in truth, my entire blog post could be boiled down to the story of the Good Samaritan. I’m making the exact same point Jesus made there, and the point Paul made in Ephesians about boasting only in the divine, not in our worldly associations.
      –” way to express your educated and defiantly privileged mind into writing a trendy idea” – I admit to feeling a bit hurt by this statement – it sounds as though you are accusing me of elitism and a desire to get attention to satisfy my ego or something. I wish you could see into my heart. I have done a lot of work in peace building circles, especially with the Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland, and with other Christian groups, and some of the large Christian facebook groups I am in have lots of people saying they are ashamed to be Christian. I want to help them. I want to be a peacemaker, as the beatitudes invite us to be in the Sermon on the Mount. I want to use every tool I have- whether it is education, experience, or anything at all – to be a vessel of divine healing and peace building. Not for attention or defiance, but because when I see hurting people around me, scared people, confused and ashamed people, I hurt for them and want to help them. That is the sincere truth, and I hope you will believe me. John Wesley believed strongly in the value of education, and that is why he began the first Sunday Schools. The seminary I attended, Boston University, began as a Methodist Seminary, because Wesley believed ministers should be educated about a broad range of fields in order to be most effective in their ministries. Methodists do not see education as a bad thing – just a tool that we are called to use, among others, in whatever form of ministry we find ourselves.
      — “I do not care about getting deeply involved within the secular decentralization of things.” — To me, there is no such thing as secularity. Everything is holy. The divine is everywhere, powerfully and beautifully. We were given brains so that we could use them to try to live our faith more effectively. I think the divine is far too powerful to be kept out of anything, anywhere. Wesley, the founder of Methodism, called it “omnipresence.” “Do not I fill heaven and earth saith the Holy One.” Jer. 23:24.
      –“Are you with God, or stand firm routed into your own pious opinions to change your religion?” –this is a fascinating question to me. My Christian tradition is filled with a long line of prophets, all of whom spoke to their communities about how they might better live their faith. Jesus was such a prophet, as was John Wesley, and Luther, Calvin, and so many more. To me, the Spirit is alive and moving, and as a Methodist, I am called to listen and respond. I don’t want to “change my religion” – as in, I don’t want to leave Christianity and join something else. I also don’t want to “change my religion” – as in, I don’t want to turn Christianity into something other than Christianity. I am passionately devoted to many symbols and stories of Jesus as sources of wisdom and guidance, and a frame for my religious journey. However, I think that to be “with God” – or “with the divine” as I would say it – means not being too afraid to see what about my faith community might need some help or guidance, and where I feel called to join that effort. I don’t want it to be about me. I’m not getting paid for writing this, or getting famous, or getting any benefit, really, except for the comments such as yours and the others here, which help me to think these ideas through better, and build community with other sincere folks of diverse backgrounds. I think to be “with the divine” means, as Paul said, that when you are called to prophesy, you should prophesy. This blog site, “feminism and religion,” is a prophetic site about how to help religions be the best they can be and remove the logs from our own eyes so that we can help remove the specks from others. I don’t consider myself particularly pious in any superior way. In fact, my prayer life could use some help! But I do find that people often see some value in the thoughts I offer, and they help me further refine those thoughts with their feedback. That’s all I am doing. To me, it is exactly the way I try to be “with the divine.”
      …Wesley had a theology of Responsible Grace, in which we receive Grace, and we are also responsible ourselves for choosing to reach for Grace and to be vessels of Grace. Methodism does not encourage passivity, but rather active engagement with the world. That’s what I’m trying to do. I hope that clarifies things a little?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I do apologize if I sounded accusatory in my statements. Its not that you dont sound like a wonderful soul, you do. The theological principle of responsible grace confirming omni-presence given as gifts to those who serve Him/ uhhem The Holy One, is constant. I do like your idea’s and your work. You definitely

        Liked by 1 person

      • have been given the grace and tools to pursue your goals in that you are helping others to see the Divine instead of seeing the lost, fearful, pained and discouraged part in the rest of humanity. I myself, grew up Baptist, had a chance at using the Gordon College facilitates while attending Salem State, I even frequented the Seminary as often as I could. I am in the south now. However, Im sorry to insinuate superiority or my bad spelling in definitely. It is just hard to imagine that your identity with God could be a her. Im a woman too, It just doesn’t settle easy with me. You have a strong voice as well as clearly educated, forgive me. My Christian attitude was biased in itself, when you are free to choose and the good Lord walks with you everywhere and everyday to see you through any identity you choose. Im certain that theology opens many doors in expressing present issues among conflict with the “in groups” I get that and we, Christians, no matter the religion, need more and more advocacy to be inspired. Im impressed you understand conflict with this issue. Again, I do apologize, my first reaction came before thinking. Not, an excuse, just being honest. Thank you very much for your response !!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you – I really appreciate your response! I agree with you – we all need to inspire each other, and I don’t mind thinking through these things with people like you, who help me clarify what I mean and do not mean. Thanks for your sincere engagement! Blessings to you. <3

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  16. I think Christians who don’t want to call themselves Christians because of the behavior of other men and women… either are deceived as to what it means to be a Christian in the first place, or have their focus on the wrong person(s).

    Am I proud to be a Christian? Well I don’t wear around Christian Pride shirts like the LGBT but I do host a Christian blog and talk about Jesus to whoever will listen. Does the behavior of other fallen men and women make we want to hide who I am in Christ or deny Him? ABSOLUTELY not.

    We can point fingers all day to these people who do all of these “horrible” things in the name of religion or we could just as easily start looking in the mirror of our own hearts and minds and see the darkness within our selves. Trust me, if you look, you will find it.

    You know whose sin is always greater? The sin committed by someone else. This is how most people see the world, it is very natural to feel this way.

    But Christians need to keep their focus on Jesus Christ… and gently correct a brother or sister who has gone astray. If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, I recommend you read the story of Peter and see how denying Jesus turned out.

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    • I agree with you, Keith – your statement “We can point fingers all day to these people who do all of these “horrible” things in the name of religion or we could just as easily start looking in the mirror of our own hearts and minds and see the darkness within our selves.” could easily be a summary of my entire piece. I certainly was not encouraging people to “deny Jesus” or leave Christianity. Quite the reverse. Sometimes things are clearer in my head than they are when I get them written down, I suppose – but yes, I agree that it is our responsibility as Christians to try to help other Christians who are acting in ways we find unethical. There will always be disagreement about that, but thus is the nature of all religions. Peace to you.

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  17. Reblogged this on NANMYKEL.COM and commented:
    I’m reblogging and following. Just excellent…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It is a sad state of affairs in Christianity, but as humanity evolves so to will our understanding and expression of the timeless Truths revealed to us by Christ.
    I wrote an article myself on the topic, if you’d care to give it a read.

    https://ryanhauck1.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/the-three-ascending-plateaus-of-christianity/

    Like

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