Faith As Anthropology

The occasions where I feel strange and awkward as a practicing Christian in today’s society are innumerable, endless.

I am naturally drawn to the more rigid forms of “church” too. I am nominally Catholic while investigating the potentials of Lutheranism, Episcopalian, and if I get too crazy I might even sap a bit of Presbyterianism.

At church today, a gorgeous Pentecostal service at an Episcopalian house, I got a few shocks to press the reminder that I don’t go to church to be a proper denominational entity. I go to church to share my faith in one almighty God. I don’t go to church to be a good Catholic. I don’t go to church to be a shitty Catholic. I can step into an Episcopalian church and feel Presence as surely as I can at a Roman Mass, in Evangelical enthusiasm or the wilderness of Oregon.

Today, a Pentecostal service, there were a few baptisms. I love baptism. Yeah, there’s a lot of crying babies now and ever, but who cares for crying babies? I’ve never known a decent parent who would deny a child medical care if they screamed prior; baptism is no different to me.

I don’t think I’d have taken to the Christian religion were it not for my background in anthropology. Were it not for my trust in “deep anthropology” I don’t know that I’d stuck it through to know the strength and beauty of Christian faith. Now I have, through anthropological open-mindedness, seen what actually counts as an expression of Christian faith, and I do like it. It’s what goes on in the head and heart of those sitting in the pews, not the expressions of the larger Church.

You’ll never see or know the side of “regular old Christianity” from the sidelines. What you’ll see is a phantom debate over sexuality or birth control. But if you can press past the political trappings and come to a real neighborhood service… our concerns are feeding the homeless, giving shelter, wrapping ourselves into beneficial causes for humanity.

Christian faith requires more than just the simple “leap of faith.” It means a certain immersion. It means planting down in the pew and listening. A reader today said it perfectly that Christianity isn’t understanding or reflection on the Word, it’s just listening. It’s been a bit over five years since I was baptized. And since then I’ve been challenged right and left. So hard to be faithful.

Initially, in my first involvement in Christianity, I kept this belief that I would remain faithful to the core message in spite of all the denominational, external honky tonk. But as it seems, most Christians I meet are already aiming for the deeper faith.


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