Most of you know that I’m a former pastor and evangelical Christian who has walked away from this particular expression of faith and way of “showing up” in the world (Evangelicalism – not the Christian tradition as a whole). You can read more about that here, but I wanted to share my response to a question I am often asked these days:
What does faith and spirituality look like for you now?
New Reflections and Pathways
A few years ago, as I watched events in Ferguson, MO unfold, I began truly listening (probably for the first time in my life) to the voices of those in the streets and to those on the digital waves demanding justice for the murder of Michael Brown. This launched me into a journey of deconstructing my own privilege and beginning new practices in my life that would lead towards a greater solidarity with those that are marginalized. It also opened up a new spiritual path – one that did not exist on the initial maps I had been using for a majority of my life.
For me, the spiritual work in my life as of late has been about immersing myself in stories and experiences outside of my own. It’s been about reading books written by women of color, and diversifying the feeds of my social networks to include a multitude of intersectionalities that expose me to a beautiful array of thought and vision for the world. It’s been about subscribing to new podcasts and listening to the spiritual longings of those that have been historically cast aside within the confines of the church. Ultimately though, it’s been about trying to find places to show up in solidarity and being intentional about placing ourselves in environments where everyone doesn’t look like us.
I see this work as sacred. I have so far to go and I’m in a constant place of discipleship from these communities, repentance from ways in which I have contributed to systemic destruction of life, and a renewal of purpose when it comes to the ways I engage my neighborhood. Showing up alongside others is central to the story of Jesus – who shows us the divine literally walking alongside those on the margins and under the boot of empire.
“Faith is radical and renewing when it is reclaimed as a movement with social ramifications, instead of individual piety.” – Mike McHargue
So that’s a big part of what the spiritual life looks like for me right now. I spent the better part of my teens and twenties talking at people from a stage and from behind a guitar. These days, the work of the soul come from listening, and passing the mic to voices that have been ignored.
Navigating These Spaces As a Father
This area is new for me. While I have a desire to share the beauty of a faith tradition with my children, I bring a lot of baggage. Doubt, fear, uncertainty – I’m often unsure how to open up these conversations with them (Rhodes in particular). Fortunately there are many others in the “Exvangelical” community who are walking a similar path. I’ve been grateful for their stories, wisdom, and insights. I hope to share more on this in the future.
Going to Church
A few places I’ve been going to church (I could sit here forever and share out links):
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing
- Between the World and Me by Ta’Nehisi Coates
- From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- 13th (Netflix)
- QueerEye (Netflix)
- Dear White People (Netflix)
- Dear Simon