New Yorker Ada Calhoun has a secret so perverse, so shocking, that it will scandalize her liberal cohorts:
Why am I so paranoid? I’m not cheating on my husband, committing crimes or doing drugs. But those are battles my cosmopolitan, progressive friends would understand. Many of them had to come out — as gay, as alcoholics, as artists in places where art was not valued. To them, my situation is far more sinister: I am the bane of their youth, the boogeyman of their politics, the very thing they left their small towns to escape. I am a Christian.
Oh my. I want to be sympathetic, but I have no patience for this type of whiny, faux-persecution by liberal cosmopolitan Christians; it’s simply much ado about nothing. As Mrs. Calhoun’s article makes clear, there isn’t anything about her brand of Christianity that would lead to her becoming Manhattan’s first martyr. She belongs to the most liberal wing of the Episcopalian Church—basically Unitarians who still fancy using the Book of Common Prayer.
And just in case there is any shade of doubt that she might harbor fundamentalist sympathies, Calhoun reiterates—over and over—that she’s not one of those Christians:
Unless you’re William James or Saint Catherine of Siena it’s hard to talk about any of this without sounding dumb, or like a zealot, or ridiculous. And who wants to be lumped in with all the other Christians, especially the ones you see on TV protesting gay marriage, giving money to charlatans, and letting priests molest children?. . .
I’ll give the atheists a lot: The Creation Museum is a riot. The psychos shooting up abortion clinics and telling gay couples they’re going to hell are evil, and anyone of faith has an obligation to condemn them. Abominable stuff has been done in God’s name for centuries. The Bible has a lot of crazy s**t in it about stoning people for using the wrong salad fork. Up with science and reason! . . .
Not long ago, I told a priest at my church that my friends equated religion with horrible things. I expected her to tell me I had some obligation to stop hiding my faith, but she said, pulling a scarf around her neck to hide her priest’s collar, “Those preachers on the subways make me cringe.” She said she prefers Saint Francis: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”
(St. Francis never said that, of course, but to point that out would be to impose my True Truth view on the quote when it’s the pragmatic truth that really counts, right?)
If my faith made no demands on me and represented nothing more than stained glass, comfort in the face of death, and an “It works” pragmatism, I’d probably be ashamed to talk about it too. But it’s not really about any of that stuff at all: Christianity is about Christ. This raises theobvious question: Where in all this is Jesus? Is Calhoun ashamed of him too? I’m tempted to point out that it was Jesus who said, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” But that’s in the Bible so it may be yet another reason to be embarrassed.
If this is what it means to come out as a Christian, why bother? If you’re embarrassed to be associated with orthodox Christians, with Scripture, and with Jesus—the Jesus of history as revealed in the Gospel, not the hippie, guru Jesus of the denatured social gospel—why would you even want to be called a Christian at all?