I’m trapped in my apartment.
Surrounded by feet of snow.
My landlord has the heat set to ninety degrees.
And all I want to write about is faith.
A small faith: that, someday, I’ll be a comfortable temperature again.
A large faith: that the electricity and heat won’t fail.
A larger faith: that the people who don’t have any of these luxuries will find a way to survive this unprecedented winter.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I can write about faith at all.
Not because I don’t have any,
And not because moving out East has changed my faith in some dramatic way,
But because writing about faith has to be done too particularly….
You can’t bash it, or you’re intolerant.
You can’t preach it, or you’re didactic.
You can’t quote it, because then you’re repetitive.
You can’t innovate it, because then you’re heretical.
I can’t say that I was raised in the faith, because then my faith is “inherited” and, therefore, lesser.
I can’t say that, on most days, church is more of an obligation, because then I’m not truly a part of the Christian community.
And I really can’t say that I’m gay, because then my faith is immediately deemed inauthentic.
Of course, we speak anyway: the young, the strange, and the broken.
(How can we not, with a God so good?)
We welcome select criticisms that will inevitably befall our words—
“Drastic; Liberal; Extreme;” —
and fight back with some of our own—
“Intolerant; Unjust; Hypocritical.”
But in the end, I think we’re all so wrong.
So long as we keep yelling.
So long as we keep denouncing each others’ thoughts and words and actions as evil.
Perspective taking is one of the greatest teachings Christianity has to offer—thinking of a thief as less of a criminal and more of a product of a plutocratic culture,
thinking of a leper as less of a contagion and more of an outcast who’s forgotten the feeling of an outstretched hand,
thinking of a prostitute as less of a sinner and more of a scapegoat for those too ashamed to confront their own transgressions,
thinking of a difference
as less of something that should be fixed,
and more of something that should be loved,
even when you find it in a fellow sister or brother in Christ.
Yes, if Jesus taught us anything,
it’s that we are not our neighbors.
But I think the piece we’re missing is:
that we’re the better for it.
Michael Kelly (’14) graduated from Calvin College with a double major in psychology and writing. Shortly after graduating, he began his graduate level study of educational research, measurement, and evaluation at Boston College. When he is not studying learning and teaching, Michael learns and teaches through stories and writing—fiction and nonfiction, comedy and tragedy, and everything else in between.
I absolutely love that penultimate paragraph! I know I’ve been offered that general message many times, but you said it in a way that made it click so clearly for me–a sign of a true writer.
I love that Gabe used the phrase “penultimate paragraph.” I also loved this whole thing. Beautifully structured words that convey important ideas. It reads kind of like slam poetry.