Poem: Questions

Note: Sorry it’s been a while. I wrote this for my world religions course last semester. This poem is a mix of the questions I’ve had and questions others may have too.

If He has the whole world in His hands,

And His hands are big and we are small,

Why did He decide to take the time to create something,

Yes, I said some thing,

So small?

Isn’t pointless for Him to hear all of the

Simultaneous white noise we call prayer?

And does it ever cause a buzzing in His ears to hear such moans

And few cheers of thanks, friendship,

Hope, or joy,

Amongst the majority of threats, complaints,

Anger, sadness?

Why create the outer space people refuse to explore

Since they’re not living there?

With all of this omnipotence,

Why is it confusing to differentiate

Between free will and predestination?

As if they play enough tennis as much as

Angels and demons?

If we have the choice of whether or not to choose Him,

Why are we so pressured to please Him?

Religious texts says He weeps,

He smiles,

He has eyebrows that furrow in frustration,

But does He ever…sh••?

P••?

Has He ever fallen in love romantically,

As many people proclaim platonic love,

Yet use bridal metaphors to explain His existence.

Has He ever wanted to run away from us,

Due to our ends having no future?

If He is too big for us to understand,

Why do people believe in Him in the first place?

Why aren’t they angry being compared to ant-like children

Since they find Him “too big to understand”?

Do they not find it insulting, depressing,

To be so miniscule compared to

The one gigantic being labeled at the tippity top

Of the food chain?

Why is it that others believe they’re entitled to answer these questions best,

And not Him?

Being Christian and Multiracial

Growing up, my father with African American and Native American descent and my mother with European American and African American descent raised me; mostly my mother raised me, since they divorced when I was five. Nevertheless, both are Christian, so I was raised in the Christian faith. A popular question I often receive as a Christian woman, especially in an environment were there are people of multiple religious affiliations, and of non-religious affiliations, is regarding the mark of white supremacy in Christianity’s history. Why do I identify with a religion that had people who oppressed my descendants of color?

Africa has such a rich background in its culture and tribal religions, but during the time of slavery, the African diaspora had to assimilate to English, Christian dogma, and no longer being free. Native American mysticism and gender fluidity has especially been damaged due to colonialism, assimilation, and exile. During the Vietnam War, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk burned himself alive because of the horrific acts of Christian oppression. When the British invaded India, proselytizing was an act forced upon its citizens. All of these moments listed and more are needed information to point out, yet it is often ignored when studying Christianity, whether through a devotional lens or a scholarly lens.

I grew up attending traditional white non-denominational churches and traditional black Baptist churches. In both traditional settings, there’s often the need to not question. Do not look at outside sources, because the Bible should be the only text needed for spiritual growth. And the Bible details great proof of diversity, various tribes in various cities, but most churches do not value that part of Scripture. How could I have appreciated Christianity with the disputes over whether Jesus was white or black? How could I have appreciated the faith the pushed love and acceptance when it was shown to me through closeted mindsets?

It wasn’t until college where I grew to appreciate black churches. African Americans have taken Christianity and turned it into their own. Formally an act of persecution, it became an act of celebration and inspiration. African American culture is responsible for the evolution of gospel music and interpretive dance through the worship of Jesus. It has inspired heroes such as Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr. to improve social conditions. It made me realize the joy and excitement from my culture. I also joined InterVarsity, a Christian campus ministry, and it was originally a predominantly white ministry that later understood the importance of diversity in order to create an open space for multi-ethnicity and Jesus’ teachings and grace. InterVarsity is becoming a place for all racial backgrounds, including white, black, and even mixed-race backgrounds.

Furthermore, Jesus Christ didn’t compartmentalize his identity of being born of a human mother and a godly father, He identified as fully God and fully Man, labels of privilege and lack of privilege.

Despite the amount of openness Christianity has had to offer spiritually and culturally, unfortunately, it is still not seen as an open form of faith. The majority of people in political office right now are Protestant and white, for example. When some white Christians are asked to stand with their brothers and sisters of color for social justice they have the privilege to say “I don’t think God is calling me to that right now.” With the facet of proselytizing, Christians are often viewed as exclusive, another popular view of whiteness.

It wasn’t easy identifying with all of my backgrounds. And it also wasn’t easy to come to terms with them when relating to my faith. However, I am still proud of how the Christian faith calls me to be uncomfortable in order to push for reconciliation in my community, and hopefully my world. Yes, multiracial identity can be seen as a symbol for racial harmony in of itself, but when looking beyond the externalities, being a Christian also helps me strive for reconciliation in our society and to be open to other cultural perspectives.

The Good Samaritan story is a parable Jesus tells of a man of a different race and different religion that helps a man different from him on the side of the road. If that isn’t a symbol of reconciliation in Christianity, I don’t know what else can be stronger than that.

Better Together

I made a New Year’s blog back in January, and one of my resolutions were to go to more interfaith events.

And when I say “interfaith,” I do not mean “inner-faith.” I have had difficulty explaining this before, but a lovely Anthropology and Religious Studies major explained it perfectly.

“Inner-faith” is when one talks about their religion, or talk about why they have no religion, and compare and contrast it with other religions as a way to show why, in their reasoning, is better than all of the other religions and the non-religions.

However, “Interfaith” refers to people of religious and non-religious individuals coming together to find common ground, while still agreeing to disagree; legitimately respecting one another. Wanting to know more about one another’s backgrounds, and how it helps them interact with one another in a healthy community.

I actually attended the Interfaith Youth Core Conference in Atlanta, Georgia back in late January. It is a conference for college students trying to bring interfaith community on their campuses. Therefore, this conference helped us learn how to be a part of the Better Together Campaign, an international interfaith movement all across universities.

It has made me understand so much more in terms of why religious and non-religious identity matters, especially in terms of social justice. Religion is a platform that leads us to talking about how the relates to race, sexuality, mental illness, disability, socioeconomic status, gender, and so, so much more.

I had the opportunity to learn more about why I, as a Christian, should be pursuing interfaith work. Especially with the amount of Christian privilege in this country and how Christianity has been used as a tool to harm others, when it shouldn’t. There are other examples with other faiths as well, but in America, specifically, Christianity has been, and still is, a big one.

Since then, my fellow peers, advisor, and I began the process of forming a Better Together organization at East Carolina University. And I am so excited and honored to being more involved in this movement.

A lot of my posts have been about my Christian faith, and very little have I mentioned other faiths.

“Write what you know” is the best and worst advice a writer can receive. What I said prior is an example of why.

Not that I will stop talking about my Christian faith, because how can I encourage others to talk about their own faith or non-faith if I can’t? Moreover, there are passages in Scripture for why this is another important facet of social justice and the pursuit of equality.

I honestly did not think that a New Year’s resolution would grow to have this much of an impact on me.