One of my favourite pieces of feedback about my writing came to me from a dear friend and neighbour who was raised in the Christian tradition but no longer participates in it. She said of one of my faith columns, ‘You mentioned Jesus a bit early for my liking, but I persevered, and I was glad I did.’
Australians feel discomforted by and wary of religion – with good reason. I have an allegiance to an unpopular tribe that I call ‘Tribe Christian’. I have to be cautious, people might assume this means I am a fundamentalist and take the bible literally or don’t believe in marriage equality or think it’s okay for priests to abuse children. Not so. Really not so. Tribe Christian feels so far to me from what is done in its name. I’m up for resistance. But the Uniting Church of Australia don’t peddle certainty or prosperity economics and they are the tribe I belong to.
I am interested in the kind of faith education that is based on curiosity rather than dogma. Any story can become spin; I am keen to awaken questions rather than close them down. Being Christian is one way to stay open and curious and mindful – or not – no guarantees there. But I am curious about that strange middle eastern desert dweller Jesus, his fierce tenderness, stories and teachings and his non-violent practice.
I love it that people of faith and of no faith tradition tell me they like my work. I don’t think I could have stayed in a conversation with the Christian faith tradition if I had not had the freedom to doubt and question.