I became a Christian as a teenager in the late ’70’s, in the latter days of the Jesus Movement, when that decision meant being “born again.” At the time, I didn’t realize that it also seemed to mean swallowing the entirety of the conservative Evangelical expression of the faith. It wasn’t long before a steady diet began to give me spiritual indigestion. My process of faith deconstruction was very slow and gradual; it was only about ten years ago that I began to identify as post-evangelical, and at no time during the process did I entirely abandon the Christian faith. I simply realized that the conservative Evangelical diet was not healthy for me, and I began to seek alternative ways to understand and practice and nourish my faith.
In the interim, I spent twenty-five years as a professor in a small Evangelical university before leaving to begin the process of ordination in the Episcopal church. In this blog, I hope to communicate the many ways in which an Evangelical expression of spirituality began to be limiting, then confining, and finally counterproductive to my spiritual development. No more Do This, and Don’t Do That as a way to live a spiritual life. Instead, there is this: Take. Bless. Break. Eat and Drink. And, as Jesus said, “Do This in Remembrance of Me.”
A word about the name of this site: I realize that describing myself as a “recovering Evangelical” seems likely to offend. I hope that you can hear the phrase in the same way you might hear “recovering alcoholic.” My attitude toward being in recovery is like that of the alcoholic, who does not necessarily think that consuming alcohol in moderation is a bad thing in and of itself; it is merely that she herself is unable to drink without it being very unhealthy. In the same way, I certainly do not think that an Evangelical attitude toward faith is always a bad thing. Instead, I have discovered that, at this stage in my spiritual journey, I am unable to simply sip from the Evangelical cup without ill effect. I bear no ill-will to my many sisters and brothers who have found that the conservative Evangelical expression of faith most feeds their spirits, and I hope that they will bear no ill-will toward me. Everyone is welcome to the feast. It’s just that when I find myself at a party in the Evangelical tradition, I will be bringing my own drinks with me.
Just to clarify, as a former English teacher, your renunciation of “Do This, Don’t Do That” means something different. “Take. Bless,” etc. are all “Do’s”, [imperatives] and “Do This in Remembrance of Me” a “Do This”. It take it you have not so much renounced imperatives as exchanged them.
You’re right! Thank you!
Portia, it is wonderful to read of your journey. There have been many adventures since our times in high school and it has been good to discover that the world is richer and more complicated than our high school evangelical faith encompassed. I am glad to see that you are well and making the world a better place.
Hi, Paul–What a treat to hear from you! Thanks for your encouraging words, and I hope that all is well with you.
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