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Christianeese scarsMay 21, 2016

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The question comes and my mind blurts out the glib answer, full of theological undertones that reassures my own particular way of living Christianity. Inside I squirm at my inability to break free from the words as I speak / type them. I wish I was the only one but I know I’m not.

My mind skims back over countless church encounters that moulded my responses, their wealth reduced down to glibness – because knowing the answer isn’t always best. No more acute is this need than when you encounter a belief system, one with nuance and gaps whose existence should shape us rather than be skimmed over.

I recognise those with similar scars. The struggle to explain grace without turning it into an acronym, the hollow “I’ll pray for you” that is (occasionally) followed by a failure to utter another word on the matter, when the sound-bite betrays their hurt and struggles into christianese vagueness. They speak in language that makes me shudder, everything becomes the mountain’s steepness or waters swell, if not phrases lifted from ‘encouragement cards’, their depth as flimsy as the paper they are lifted from.

These are not scars caused by pain but self-flagellation, from those little bible inserts and bouts of religiosity. They are not born of depth of desire nor study, they are as hard won as politicians sombre faces practised before the mirror. Over-thought and crafted words that reflect little glory to their maker and their maker in turn.

When life is tough and the mountain really does loom they have their place, but when life is good, when the doors are open and the plain lush before us, then we need to put aside the flimsy scaffold and start to work in stone. We need to put in the work to carve answers to those questions that are deep and solid, where we agonise over the cracks and pour our devotion into the decoration.

I pause, apologise and start again, delete that text, wrangle a little over the question.


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