This has been one of those weeks where the pain of my former life, the life that I sometimes flirt with and try to rejoin, has seared through me again.
I highly doubt that I can be a Christian any more.
I'm not a big Lord of the Rings fan, but at the end of the series Frodo remarks to Sam that he can't go back to the Shire. Some wounds are too deep, and even though he was hurt trying to save it, it is no longer for him; he saved it for others, and he must go elsewhere.
I haven't saved anything for anyone, but I relate to the idea that even though something may be safer or better than it was before, the pain is too deep to go back.
An online conversation with a minister from a denomination I used to be a part of was a sure sign that I can't go back, that it is not for me. Assurances that this person cared and was listening fell flat as every other response indicated he wasn't truly listening, he was trying to cover over, to solve, to rush past, to minimize.
Once I found out his denomination, it was like a light went off in my head, allowing all the pieces of his thought process to finally make sense. I hate to paint with such a broad brush, but it's a pattern I've seen play out again and again in this group of pastors, to the point it's become a trope.
This is one denomination, though, one group of pastors, why should that influence me?
Because Christianity, as a group, but this denomination in particular, tends to attract people who want Very Right Doctrine (TM). Not people content with mystery, inclusivity, and open-endedness, but dogma, exclusivity, and clearly demarcated borders.
To a young ex-Baptist, it seemed like such an oasis, but really it was just a resting place in my journey beyond black and white thinking, not the destination. I was heading in the complete opposite direction of them, our paths just happened to intersect at a particular moment of time.
This conversation reminded me why this part of my journey is over. It is gotten to the point where I am speaking an entirely different language. We have entirely different and at times opposing priorities.
I don't care about churches surviving, creedalism, and hell. I care about people having spaces to be authentically themselves and to find true, soul-deep healing, wherever that may be. I don't think all doctrines are all right or all wrong for people at all times. I don't believe in Hell. I have such a firm belief in the goodness of deity that I have hope that even if I am 100% wrong on all of this, being corrected by a loving deity is the safest place I can be.
Simply put, the debate on orthopraxy and doctrine is so far removed from where I am that I can't engage on that level. It's no longer important to me, so discussing religious trauma with someone who values those things above all else feels futile.
I don't ultimately know where I am going to end up. This is thrilling as it is terrifying. But it won't be where I came from.
I know I want to be on the margins. The sexual, religious, racial margins. That's where the real work seems to be happening, where people understand the pain of victimization, the frustration of dealing with moderates who want to maintain the status quo, and the drive to actually do something about it.
I'm not here for, "I care, I really do, but not yet, be quiet, take it slow, don't too much at once, we don't want to alienate those who aren't ready." I'm here for radical healing. I'm here for learning how I can be an ally for racial justice, not yet another lumpy white hindrance. I'm here for leaning how I can lay myself down to save our planet. I'm here for learning how to be the best bisexual advocate I can be, and how to stand with the lesbian, gay, ace, pan, and trans communities. I'm here for women and how we can own our emotions and fight for the equality that is ours. I'm here for animals who are being abandoned, abused, and neglected in our forests, homes, shelters, and industrial livestock operations.
I'm not here for maintaining any power structure as it is. Not churches, not the 1%, not governments, not political parties, not patriarchy, not white privilege, not human domination over animals and the environment.