Thursday, April 10, 2014

Welcome (and a few thoughts on labels)

Despite its title, this is not a blog about proverbs, or the Bible. This is a blog about me.

Religious belief, for being a supposedly personal affair, demands labels and categories, which I've always found difficult. I have called myself many things, many labels that fit for a time, and then didn't: Catholic, Christian, non-denominational, spiritual, believer.  For some time, my Facebook "religious beliefs" defined me as "liberal catholic Christian," with a intentionally small-case catholic c.*  I was, and am, proud of my both my liberal political views and Catholic heritage, yet anxious for acceptance by my evangelical Christian friends who frowned upon capital-C Catholicism.

Unfortunately, this wishy-washiness did not go unnoticed by any of the people whose approval I sought, and it didn't work for me either. At some point, I quietly removed my religious views from my Facebook page. I still went to church, still played in the worship band, still professed my faith. But the labels nagged at me, so I removed them completely. And that's how it remains.

All my life, I've been afraid to say what I think on the topic of faith and Christianity, and afraid to ask questions. Some of the things I wonder are considered better left unsaid, at least in the circles of which I've always been a part.

I don't have any promises for this blog. I don't know if anyone will read it. I don't promise to have some big religious conversion, or to commit to any great new belief system. I will not become an evangelical atheist, the likes of Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. I will not become a nun, like several of my aunts have done, or even like my best friends, who are strong, happy, unquestioning Christians. But for the first time, I am going to say exactly what I think, no matter how offensive, confused, or label-free it might be.

*"Catholic" (capital C) refers specifically to the Roman Catholic Church, while "catholic" (small-case c) means "universal," and refers to Christ's intended inclusion of believers all over the world, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, nationality, etc. This article on Catholic Exchange provides a thorough discussion of the topic.

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