Exvangelical: Part 3
I'm incredibly grateful for those that have been engaging with me as I've shared my journey out of evangelicalism. I was nervous about sharing this as I know there would be those out there that would be hurt, offended, or even feel threatened by someone offering a critique on their way of seeing the world. Fortunately that sort of blowback has been minimal and I'm so appreciative of the mature dialogue that has existed around this series. So thank you!
Over the years I've received countless emails, texts, and private messages inquiring about my faith journey. This isn't because I have some great insight, but because the position I held as a worship leader and pastor was so visible, the transition has been as well. Sometimes these inquiries are from well meaning people who are "concerned." Others come from a place of curiosity because they too feel that something is out of place and are looking for some language to help them process these feelings. I have even had some people come full circle. I have a friend who literally said "When you first started talking about these things I thought you were crazy. A few years later it all makes sense." Even as this blog has progressed, a common question I get is "where have you landed?" or "what do you consider yourself now?" For the last piece in this series (but definitely not on the topic of faith) I wanted to share my answer to that question (spoiler alert - you might be disappointed) and the spaces that have helped me work through my questions and become my community outside of the institutional settings of the church.
The truth is, I don't have an answer to the "where are you now" question. I don't feel like I've landed my theological plane and, in reality, I don't feel any need to. The freedom to not need to hold a certain label didn't happen overnight, and I spent quite a few years trying on all sorts of labels to see how they fit. I see myself in a lot of different types of faith (and non-faith) expressions. Christian, atheist, mystic, evangelical, humanist, etc. I relate to aspects of them all and what really excites me these days is the exploration of ways in which these seemingly opposing viewpoints actually share much in common. I'm driven by my belief that love, in all of its complexity, is the driving force of our human experience. The pursuit of love across tribal lines drives my curiosities towards those who've had experiences outside of my own. It was my encounters with people and my love for them that cracked my religious shell and I've run that direction ever since.
This path has not been one I've been on alone, although this journey can often feel incredibly isolated. I wanted to share a few spaces that have truly been life-giving as I've moved towards new ways of thinking and being. My hope is that if someone is out there and feeling this pull, but scared to begin asking the questions, that these places might offer the same type of refuge they did to me.
The Liturgists are a global community working to subvert the barriers our society builds around religion, race, gender, ability, and sexuality. Their work is centered around compelling discussion, non-judgmental community, and thoughtful, evocative art. The most popular of their work is their podcast - which is fantastic. It's a beautiful blend of faith, art and science.
Black, Queer, and Feminine Theologies
My religious experience was mostly shaped by white men. In church, in books, and in school. In fact, these were really the only voices that had a say in what was what. I didn't even know about the works of many of the beautiful minds I'm about to mention. The history is rich, the experiences are beautiful, and these will change you if you allow them. Dive into experiences outside of your own. Listen. Do not respond. When you think you've heard enough...listen more. Immerse yourself in these experiences and people. It is truly grand.
Christina Cleveland | Matthew Vines | Austin Channing | Hillary L McBride | Dr. Robyn | Broderick Greer | Rachel Held Evans | Sarah Bessey | Julie Rogers | Vicky Beeching | William Matthews | Rev. Paul Barber
So many more I could mention, but you get the idea.
The Work of Rob Bell
I've been a student of Rob Bell for nearly 15 years. His work has helped give me language to my experiences, and he really gave me the courage to ask the hard questions - even when it meant standing on my own. His passion, intellect, and honesty are incredibly refreshing. His books, podcasts, and events (where I've made a lot of new friends) are all fantastic and I highly recommend his work.
Here are a handful of other resource that have helped shape the past 10 years of my life.
- The work of Joseph Campbell
- Brian McLaren
- The Enneagram
- Brene Brown
- Derek Webb
- Peter Enns
- Mark Scandrette
- "Science Mike"
- Peter Rollins
- Richard Rohr
- Greg Boyle
Again, thanks for reading and engaging in this series with me. No matter where you find yourself on the spectrum of faith, you are welcome to this conversation.
Grace, peace and love.