When I first started writing on Facebook, I was hesitant about mentioning God. Faith is a big part of my life. I grew up in the church and have been very involved in congregational life. On a personal level, faith has brought comfort and hope, alongside questions and difficulties. I would say that my relationship with God is easily the most important element of my life (although I am still learning to live this out in practice.)
But I know that talk about faith, God, and religion can get messy really quickly. It is a space of much pain and hurt for many people. Moreover, the church as a whole and individual Christians have often responded callously or even horribly to the pain of others. As one quipped, “Lord, save me from your followers.” Social media isn’t conducive to nuance as it is; talk of religion can become ugly, maudlin, or toxic.
I still like to write about faith, since it is important to me. However, I want to make a few things clear:
1) I will do my best to be explanatory. My thought in writing one of these bits is “How can this be helpful to others?” Using Christian terminology such as “blessed,” “anointed,” or “the blood of the lamb” can be confusing (particularly that last one.) I want my writing to be accessible, that even people who don’t share my faith can take something from it.
2) I will never try to argue someone into conversion. I’ve seen it tried, and it doesn’t work. Questions are a crucial part of faith. I would submit that one issue with modern American Christianity is an outright allergy to probing questions. That said, arguments on a comment wall almost never end well. I am amiable to private conversations, both in person and online, but not on a Facebook wall, above pictures of empanadas (go to the fundraiser!)
3) When I write something normative, I start with myself, then with my community, then to everyone else. I have seen many Christian writers say “People who are not Christians should do this!” There is some value to that, to the prophetic voice outside the walls calling for change. That’s not how I choose to write. I will say “What I am learning is that something I need to do is X.” Maybe this means that I lack the fiery searing voice bringing power to truth, and that my writing comes across as bland and quaint. Yet I have found that the most profound sermons I have heard start with “I need to hear this too.”
Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me to keep writing. Even today, someone said “You know, I haven’t had time to go to church in a while, and I appreciate reading what you have to write.” This has been a great joy so far, and I’m looking forward to more to come.
And seriously, buy empanadas for our fundraiser tomorrow. Those Bacon/Date/Goat Cheese ones? Wow.