Friday, January 11, 2008

When did "Christian" become a bad word?

Among many of the people I consider to be casual social friends, the term "Christian" is thrown around disparagingly, the term "Catholic" even laughingly so. These conversations, which are admittedly uncomfortable for me, make me wonder, "When did the word 'Christian' become a bad word?"

The attack isn't so foreign to me. I used to disparage church life. I still sometimes shudder when I hear someone say, "Jesus" as in a pious announcement such as "Jesus wants me to do x, y, z." I can much more easily hear Jesus' name invoked in passionate explosions, such as "Jesus H. Christ, why the hell...."

So what better way for me to come to terms with this dilemma than to teach at a seminary and graduate school of religion? Every day I get to consider questions that cut into the very core of who I am and who I am becoming: How could anyone in their right mind, after all, believe in the Immaculate Conception? How could anyone belong to an institution whose leaders have tacitly supported the sexual abuse of minors and women? Why would a feminist choose to become Roman Catholic especially when women are not allowed to be ordained?

In short, how could you? How could I?

What I write here are my personal thoughts and observations. I welcome comments and ideas. I request that if you disagree with me heatedly, keep your comments respectful. No flames. We're all in this together....just searching a little each day.

1 comment:

katie said...

"Christian" became a bad word when it was co-opted by a small group of Christians, who claimed to have the pipeline to the truth on God, Jesus and the Holy Bible. I guess Catholics claimed to have that pipeline for a long time and some Catholics believe that they still do. BUT, I know a lot of Christians and a lot of Catholics who are such good, good followers of Christ that it pains me to lump the bad word, "Christian" with the uncharitable, judging, exclusionary "Christians". Maybe it'd be good to ask the question of those who utter the word Christian with such distaste: Do you know any Christians you admire? any Catholics you admire? take it away from the organizational or institutional or media fueled realm and bring it back to what's real. and when I am inclined to judge (and boy am I!) it'd be good for me to ask: how Christian am I? and what constitutes being a Catholic for me? I was reminded while helping my tutee on her religion project that .... oh yeah, really all the Old Testament had to say and all that Jesus had to say was "Love God and Love your neighbor." Everything comes back to that. I have a suspicion too... with respect to the low esteem with which"Catholics" and "Christians" are held by the media and the intellectual community... that the Spirit is working her magic somewhere in it all. She is always at work, I believe.