Thursday, December 21, 2006

Real Holiness

“Christopher” has recently posted yet another great reflection on his blogsite Bending the Rule.

This one is entitled “Secular and Christian” and, in many ways, serves as a great antidote to the legalistic, judgmental, and life-denying theology of fundamentalism, both biblical and doctrinal, previously explored
here, here, and here, and the related notion of “theological imperialism” discussed here and here.

Christopher's commentary also reminds us all of the liberating and sanctifying power of “coming out.”

Following are some excerpts from Christopher’s recent “Secular and Christian” reflection.


I distrust piety. I distrust piety because I was once extremeley pious. And in the name of piety, could be really judgmental, world denying, self-loathing, and a real no-fun pain in the ass in my quiet pursed lips way. And too many of the pious I hung around with were likewise thus. You could almost feel our assholes pucker (insert stick) whenever we encountered someone laughing and enjoying life and committing sins (as we so judged). Like more than one saint (including some of the canonized) with a docetic bent, I wanted to throw off this veil of flesh, with all the mess, ambiguity, struggle, sinning, and those temptations to joy and delight and fun because they were messy, ambiguous, filled with struggle, and always likely to be a mixture of virtue and sinning. I wanted to divorce the Incarnation from the Creation, Salvation from Ordinary Life. And the Church’s stance on sexuality encouraged just that type of rules-keeping, flesh-fleeing thinking as what is meant by holiness – at the heart of such teaching is a flesh-hating vision that suggests theologically that the earth is wicked and God is out to get us. So flee from the very ooomph! of life. No fusses, no musses, no squirts and puddles and messes.

But I also loved beer, loved to dance, loved to cook, loved sex, and it is here that I began to see that something was wrong with my piety and with elements of Churchy thinking. I can praise God with a good beer in hand, and my heart soars to God in dancing with my partner or Br. Puppy; setting a table for others reminds me of God's generosity, and the messy fun and re-creation of sex renews my sense of wonder at God's good Creation.

Only my “coming out” really saved me from a life of piety, and I discovered how quickly the pious can turn on their own when one begins to find reverence/awe/fear of the LORD in the everyday. And eversince, revisioning what praying, practicing, living, and being a follower of Christ might be has been a journey in having my piety stripped away piece by piece, slowly but surely until I find myself left with the daily. . . Sooner or later you realize that real holiness is quite human.


See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Somewhere In Between.

Image 1: Michael K. Williams (in The Wire, season 3, 2004).
Image 2: Anthony Mackie (in She Hate Me, 2004).

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