I gotta admit to you that I do not read a lot of blog posts, but Ethan Bryan has this way with blurb-quote tweets. So today he got me with “There is no Photoshop for the soul in the desert,” and I found myself reading this blog post instead of getting started mixing like I was supposed to.
The post, called “The Desert”, connects various Biblical images of deserts & the folks who found themselves within them, with a metaphorical “desert” state of being, which Ethan outlines in the post. It’s a highly relevant post, as I’m sure many people are familiar with this. I would say that I have been in a desert similar to what Ethan describes since I dropped out of college two years ago–separated from most of my friends both physically and with respect of interests/efforts/lifestyle, so I definitely relate to this post personally, even though I don’t identify as a Christian anymore.
That’s the most striking thing about Ethan’s writing to me–that it’s still able to connect to me. Several years ago I confronted a few major internal conflicts I had with Christianity–my faith perspective since birth, though it took many forms during its course–and I ended up in this sort of spiritual no-man’s-zone; or, a Desert, if you will. What I ended up with is just whatever grew up out of the ruins–a spirituality without any sort of name or well-defined guidelines, but one that works really well with me.
The thing about falling out of Christianity, though, is that it left me with a great deal of aversion to it. I knew that it wasn’t fair, and it really frustrated me, because I knew from experience that Christianity has a lot of good to offer. I’m also of the opinion that faiths are the frameworks or languages of a larger, more ambiguous spirituality, and that a certain religion itself isn’t intrinsically Good or Bad, though there are certainly things that I find positive and negative in their individual implementations. Still, whenever I heard people speak from the Christian perspective, it always stirred up the old conflicts for me, even though there are many implementations of Christianity that don’t uphold those issues at all.
As time has passed, my aversion has subsided quite a bit, though I still find that I don’t relate as well to Christian expressions as I might to something from a faith that I don’t have personal experience with, and I think that is in part because of a lingering hesitation I have to really engage the Christian language.
Ethan’s writing, though, has always been extremely approachable to me, and this is what I find so amazing about it. I had the pleasure of editing Run Home and Take a Bow only about a year after my transition out of Christianity. It’s a book about Jesus and baseball, neither of which were topics of any interest to me at the time, and yet I still found myself connecting to both.
It is my goal to be able to engage Christian language as I would any other faith or perspective, because I think they all have something beneficial to offer, and I don’t want to be shut off to that. I’m sure I have some more ground to cover on that front, but I think as long as folks like Ethan keep doing what they do, then finding a way to approach Christianity as an Outsider won’t be hard at all.