It’s been a while.
At a time when we are quick to share our opinions about anything and everything, I needed to take some time to be mostly silent for a while.
At a time when we are quick to cancel people with whom we disagree and don’t care to know as well as being prone to divisiveness while settling for superficial reactions that are void of relational depth, I needed to think through what kind of impact I want to leave in the wake of my deconstruction. Bottom line, I find that I am drawn to restoration much more than I am to deconstruction.
Cancel culture is an unfortunate result of the ease with which we can react to anything someone says or writes (whether they did so yesterday or 25 years ago) from the comfort of our living room without ever having to truly engage on a relation level. We’ve reduced ourselves and others to usernames and avatars and our pent-up anger and general uneasiness is ready to be unleashed at whoever writes a sentence the wrong way or uses a word I don’t like. It is the lost art of conversation, listening and engaging with others. We read snippets and throw stones. We disagree and boycott. We’re hurt and we want revenge. We want the last word. We see abuse and we rage, somewhat rightfully so, but in our rage we become ruthless slaves to the very thing we despise. There is much anger and it seems to be finding deeper roots with every passing day. Anger serves its purpose of course but when left to linger and boil, it only spawns hate and resentment. Nothing good ever comes out of that. Especially not when deciding what/who is or isn’t worthy.
When it comes to Christianity, it’s ok to walk away if that is where you find yourself but know that walking away is not the only option.
Deconstruction and Exvangelical have been buzzwords and hashtags for a while now. With reason. Believe me I understand. I, too, walked away. I think it was necessary. However, I would venture to say that we are on the verge of seeing a new trend begin. Perhaps it will be called #reconstruct or #rechristian or maybe #reconstructmychristianity. Many from both sides won’t like this but I think it is coming.
When reality and life experiences are at odds with the traditions and preferred teachings of our Christian context, it’s normal to question and seek something that makes sense. Not to do so leads to some form of cognitive dissonance or numb adherence out of fear. There is much that needs to be questioned, much that needs correction and much that needs to be denounced.
In response to the contradictions, the frustrations, the disillusionment, the hypocrisy, the hate, the obstinate refusal to connect the dots, and so on, many of us have added up what christianity is in our context and we’ve decided we could not be that anymore. So we did the only thing we could do and we walked away. Some went on to attack the faith they left and became outspoken adversaries of Christianity while others withdrew more silently and found solace in the twitter feeds of likeminded people going through the same process of deconstruction and identifying as #exvangelical/#exchristian.
Cancelling Christianity from our lives is not the only way. It’s quite frankly not even possible. There are many varieties of it. Even if we are all pointing the finger at it, we’re pointing in different directions and at different things. Some themes are certainly recurring but they are also mainly experienced by people from relatively similar contexts. We are responding and reacting to real stuff, but then what?
I think there will be a movement of returning. Not a returning to how it was (although for some this may be true). For most it will be the ability, after having had time to heal and think freely, to return to the Christian space with a greater assurance of their place in it and how it connects with reality here and now. The Christian space is vast and though it has accumulated much to be ashamed of through the centuries, it has also done much good and continues to do so in a variety of ways. While some of its teachings may no longer be appropriate to our time, there is room for those teachings to grow and evolve because that is what they have always done, for the most part, and must continue to do.
To Summarize, if the only way to understand Christianity is by taking the teachings I grew up with in church and in school then it is safe to say I am not that. If the only way to understand it is through the lens of the religious evangelical right, I am definitely not that. Yet, I don’t think that is the end of it.
Would you agree that after the exodus seen in parts of Christianity over the last number of years that we will begin to see a sort of return? Not a return to what was but a return nonetheless.