Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nothing Is More Embarrassing Than Being Religious

Especially if you are a Christian.

At least that's what Ada Calhoun says in a recent article for Salon.com. After reading her article and noting the 'progressive' company she keeps, and bearing in mind the things I've read and heard about in places beyond the Bible Belt where I live, I can't say I'm surprised.

Here's a teaser from her article entitled, "I am a closet Christian":

It was Sunday morning in my scruffy Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood, and I was wearing a dress. Walking to the subway, I ran into a friend heading home from yoga class. She wore sweats and carried her mat over her shoulder. "Where are you going so early all dressed up?" she asked, chuckling. "To church?" We shared a laugh at the absurdity of a liberal New Yorker heading off to worship.

The real joke? I totally was.

Inside the church, it's cool and quiet. I read the Collect of the day in the Book of Common Prayer, which urges us: "While we are placed among 
things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall
 endure." My recent layoff no longer seems like the end of the world. I take Communion and exchange the peace and listen to the sermon. As I'm walking back up the aisle, I feel reoriented and calmer, the indignities of the week shift into perspective.

These moments are not only sacred; they are secret. Outside, on the steps of the downtown Manhattan church, I think I see someone familiar coming down the sidewalk, and I bolt in the other direction.

Why am I so paranoid? I'm not cheating on my husband, committing crimes or doing drugs. But those are battles my cosmopolitan, progressive friends would understand. Many of them had to come out -- as gay, as alcoholics, as artists in places where art was not valued. To them, my situation is far more sinister: I am the bane of their youth, the boogeyman of their politics, the very thing they left their small towns to escape. I am a Christian. ...

But also, increasingly, I wonder: When I'm getting a ride from some friends and they start talking about how stupid religious people are and quoting lines from "Religulous," do I have an obligation to point out how reductive and bigoted they're being, the way I would if they were talking about a particular race? Increasingly I wonder if I should pipe up from the back seat and say, "Excuse me, but these fools you're talking about? I'm one of them."

Read it all.

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