I have been sitting with the arisings within fitness in faith and this strange sense of let him go. Part of me—do I have an institutionalized part, I wonder?—feels an urge to explore, to clarify…for myself. Not for anyone who may feel revulsion or fear at a longstanding Christian seminary prof playing around with Let Jesus Go already…
To lean on a philosophical distinction, I’m always in for Jesus/the Christ as Subject, as active P/presence, as the wily More of Godde no one can contain or predict. The Emmaus Road J/tC, in other words. Hidden from our eyes, teaching all the same, vanishing in front of us as soon as we imagine we’ve ‘grasped’ this Holy One. This One has had me for as long as I can remember, regardless of church/Church settings.
A lot of my grief and frustration there comes from experiencing the treatment of this Jesus/the Christ as Object. The Jesus/Christ that always seems to be a dress-up of whatever the latest God-idolatry might be—liberal, progressive, Evangelical, fundamentalist, Pentecostal, etc. If I were to use terms Jim Loder used here—the socialized and socializing Jesus. Helpful for rotely creating new disciples. Useless for pointing to the dissonance and difficulty actually involved in spiritual transformation toward maturity. I also recognize that this sense of Jesus/the Christ within me simply mirrors my own values, my own God-idolatry(ies). One cannot escape from it, if using language, conceptual tools.
So why attempt to write anything of this at all?
Probably because I’m grieving and sad, even a bit envious of those whose path suffices with what feels/seems narrow and unquestioning to me...those who are not drawn to complexity, or the complexities I am drawn to...
I spent 40 minutes this week listening to a podcast created by a few colleagues, introducing a new colleague who has joined the United faculty as a Visiting Professor of Pentecostal Studies. I’m intrigued by the new colleague, so listened in to learn more about her.
There wasn’t anything too surprising within it for me—familiar resonances of life in the Spirit paired with familiar divergences in conservative language and theological assumptions held in a way I cannot hold them. I’ve learned how to hear the good-heartedness of colleagues joining the Global Methodist Church, even as I disagree vehemently with so much of their personal faith expression, their convictions.
As I closed the podcast app and moved into my afternoon, I realized I felt really sad. There was a chumminess, a tribalism so clearly shared amongst the four who had gathered. Nothing they said was particularly offensive. I could even stand within many of their theological statements—if held differently, with a bit more apophatic horizon, unknowing. But I felt like such an intruder, such an outsider to their insider-speak. So many beloved souls in my own web would not be welcomed, honored, loved for who they are.
I felt a deep sadness. I cannot imagine these dear colleagues ever being able to honor or truly see so many beautiful bodysouls that bless my life. I felt gratitude for what my own path is, its abundance, and I felt strangely alone, sad.