June 25, 2005

stairwell accompaniment:Over the Rhine- OHIO

(She clings to what’s familiar.)

I’m taking a communications class. In my crawling attempt finish my nursing degree. (it’s finishing me) One of those prerequisite classes every college student has been through and it interests me. And it interests my lack of communication skills in unseen areas.
The first day of class we discussed perceptions. In the first five minutes of class, before introductions or anything but first-glance impressions, we did an activity where we had to write down two adjectives to describe each class member (small class of 12) and the teacher read them for all to hear. Mind you, I’ve never spoken with or even seen anyone in the extremely varied class before. I was the recipient of words like “pretty, mysterious, quiet, friendly, smily, inviting”. Some I thought strange. But it was the second activity that interested me more. Immediately after our adjective/impressions game and still before introductions, our teacher went around and asked the class a question about each student. Questions like “What kind of car does Shane drive?” and “Is Noel in a relationship?”. My question came. “Does Amber go to church regularly?” I held my breath and answers came. “Only on holidays…no…sometimes…yes, every Sunday…” The class was very divided. I wondered what this said as me as a person? As a believer? As a Christ-follower? As Amber? And in line with my general disenchantment with Christian subculture, I discovered that deep down, I was satisfied with not being classified. What does a “Christian” look like on first impressions? Maybe if I had been wearing a cross neclace, or had been carrying my Bible on top of my books, or had a church-themed shirt on? (and even now the thought of of it makes me feel cheap!) I feel like the “Christian culture” has wasted so much time learning how to say, portray things in a uniquely Christian way that they forget that it is not about the presentation, but about a way of life. Are not my outwadly religious clues but a clanging cymbol without active love? I can’t help but wish that people wouldn’t take clues about whether or not I follow Christ from my appearance but rather the way that I do or do not love them. In fact, I so often find the Christian subculture offensive and inappropriate. By my reading, Scripture points to a counterculture rather than a subculture.
In fact,(while I am ranting)I have been criticized many times for my taste in music, art and movies. Varied. Indie. Obscure. Independent. Strange. Deep. (I would argue) soulful. And most importantly, as a whole, very un-Christian. But I feel like Christians have fallen into the trap of believing that anything without a Christian label on it is wrong. Some of the most unartful, uncreative, uninspiring work I’ve ever experinced has been marketed simply because it had a Christian label and believers would buy it. Sad. We need to learn how to find truth, we have to learn how to find beauty. Labeling something Christian does not suddenly make it beautiful and true. And labeling something non-Christian doesn’t make it untrue and ugly. I’m afraid that people are afraid to investigate what is lovely and what is true for fear that it will be something they have previously labeled as unsafe! This ugly box believers try to fit themselves into!! I wonder if it would be possible to get back to what C.S. Lewis calls “dressing up like Jesus”. That fierce, unkempt, daring, counterculture, unorthodox Man we must fall in love with. Madly. And the love I desire so deeply isn’t one to be boxed!

tonight I wonder who has seen me fall apart?


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