The Kind of Christian I Was

gaspi_ Chapel Glass

  • I used to sing with my eyes closed. There were a few hymns at Christmas time that really did if for me. I sang harmonies a little louder than good taste would call for. Sometimes the priest would sing the Eucharist, and I knew every melody. I’d sing along quietly to myself, just under my breath.
  • I was the parishioner who showed up early to get a good seat.
  • I was the one who raised his hand in the Adult Forum class and said, “But, wait….”
  • I was the guy doing Morning Prayer alone in the chapel on a Tuesday evening.
  • I didn’t understand why certain biblical passages needed to be read. The church I belonged to, the Episcopal church, organizes its Sunday readings around a rotating three-year liturgical calendar. This insures that every church in the denomination is reading and reflecting on the same passages at roughly the same time. It forges a kind of unity that I was attempting to replicate (albeit loosely) with the formation of the Solitary Druid Fellowship.

My confusion about the passages, though, had more to do with their discontinuity. I felt like the imposition of this liturgical structure forced the priest to take great leaps when making meaning out of the ancient text. Her bias was always present. And some passages simply were impossible to reconcile.

  • I bowed when the cross passed by my pew. I didn’t know why at first, or who I was doing that for (aside from myself).

Acts of reverence like this aren’t always for the benefit of a benevolent god. They’re an extension of practice. They teach you something. They allow you to embody the experiences of respect and humility. There’s great value in that.

  • I spoke the Confession of Sin tentatively at times, and passionately at others. I was never really sold on the idea that my sin was of my birth, or that I was fatally flawed. The transactional savior concept was a little lost on me. But that didn’t mean I didn’t appreciate the opportunity to own up to all of myself, even the stuff I didn’t want to admit to. The Confession was an invitation into wholeness.
  • I loved picking apart the Gospel of Mark, becuase it rooted the story of Jesus in a specific culture. It broke apart some of the illusion that all of the Bible is essentially “one story”. That’s such a small way of thinking, and it isn’t true.
  • I thought the Historical Jesus was interesting, but I still wanted him to a be a little bit God.
  • I got angry at fundamentalism.
  • I felt angry that there was some expectation that as a gay Christian I had an even greater responsibility to show good face. My gayness was even more political than if I was churchless. That seemed profoundly unfair to me.

I wanted to have sex. I wanted to feel love. I wanted the stories about sex and love to be about me, too.

  • I had a really difficult time during Lent. I felt heavy. Sorrowful. Holy Week was the worst…

But Easter was amazing.

  • I was the kind of Christian who didn’t fit comfortably into any pre-fab molds. At least, it didn’t feel that way. I was always a little on the outside.

That is…except during the Eurcharist.

I knew I was always welcome then.


Coming soon: The Kind of Pagan I Am


Photo by gaspi *yg





4 responses to “The Kind of Christian I Was”

  1. Michael Putnam Avatar
    Michael Putnam

    Your Christianity was much like my own. Sure, I had my falling out with the Church but ultimately the only reason I left is because of the call of the Goddess. Sometimes, when I really need to meditate, I still pull out my rosary. Granted, I cannot say the creed anymore (that would just be too much) but Jesus and Mary are now and will always be a part of my life. I don’t believe that this makes me any “less” pagan; instead it just means I am in touch with my roots.
    Christianity taught me religion, Paganism taught me faith.

  2. Jenn Ostrander Avatar
    Jenn Ostrander

    I wish I could have this same background experience. I spent most of my young life wondering why I couldn’t feel what everybody else in church was feeling. It was a profoundly sorrowful experience. I still suffer from church envy, I know Paganism is how I connect to the divine but I miss the church community.

    1. Lilia Avatar

      I had much the same experience, Jenn. I didn’t grow up particularly religiously and really do believe that all faiths have places of beauty within them, but during those times when I have tried to be part of Christian church, I always felt like I wasn’t feeling what everyone else felt either. The only real moments of connection I had were in moments where there was music, but even then it was a connection to creation and not necessarily the God they were teaching about. The place where I always have intuitively sought refuge and connection, even as a young person, has been in nature. The first time I really felt that same connection in ritual (and church services ARE a form of ritual) was in attending a Beltaine ritual at a friend’s house. I think that was the beginning for me of trying to find my place within Paganism.

  3. Levi S. Avatar
    Levi S.

    Thank you, so much for this.

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