Wrestling with spirituality in post secondary
Attending university as a follower of Jesus Christ is a peculiar experience.
Some fellow students who learn of my faith — which I never push upon anyone — regard me with caution. I suspect they anticipate a venomous rant against the demonic powers of homosexuality, abortion, metal bands and socialism to erupt from my holier-than-thou lips if they provide adequate provocation.
Others treat the admission with not-so-subtle expressions of pity. The antiquated and quaint religion that I profess to be a member of must have been forced upon me as a child.
Or, if the cult-like upbringing wasn’t a domineering factor, my need for an emotional crutch clearly acts as a mental resistor to the scientific proof of God’s non-existence.
Such responses are completely understandable.
The history — and current practice — of Christianity is loaded to the brim with behaviour and theology exemplifying xenophobia, racism, vindictiveness, homophobia, a lack of critical thinking, misogyny and bigotry. I myself have ashamedly participated in the furthering of such tragic legacies.
I’ve come so close to abandoning my belief more times than I can count because of such realities. But for some reason, I continue to carry — although halfheartedly at times — the banner of Christ, who I am convinced was the fulfillment of ancient prophecies and fervent expectation that God would redeem his people through an earthly king.
No easy answer has come to answer the question of why I stick with a faith that seems to the secular world, and to me at times, so utterly illogical and foolish. Even if I wrestle with the question for the rest of my life, I doubt I’ll come to a concrete conclusion. But I can dream up possibilities.
Perhaps Christ is actually bigger than Christianity. Maybe God, who I believe in accordance to the Bible was manifested in the aforementioned strange first century rabbi, has always had a plan for this earth that isn’t constrained by the walls of churches with waterfalls and boards of directors.
There may be a faint chance, as the famed theologian N.T. Wright asks in his book “Simply Christian,” that our urge for justice, relationships with others, spirituality and creativity is a longing for God rather than simply an evolutionary by-product.
Or could it be that Christians who contributed to a better world such as Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero and Mother Teresa weren’t just delusional? Such potential is not convincing, but it keeps me wondering.
For some, the concept of committing one’s life to an unproven idea is simply preposterous. That contention isn’t invalid or trivial. In fact, that argument — and countless others maintained against Christianity and religion in general — is crucial.
It doesn’t matter if people agree with my shaky theology or not. But it does matter that people engage, respect and question it.
One of the most fabulous components of post-secondary education is the opportunity to rub shoulders with other students and professors that we’d rather walk away from than converse with.
But ignoring contentious conversations about religion — or politics, sexual orientation or other hot-button subjects — is ultimately a loss of a learning opportunity.
And if we’re not ready to learn, why are we at university?