Friday, November 16, 2007

Am I a Christian? Part 3

“Let righteous anger ripen in you,

Prepare your hands for the work to come . . .

or if you cannot – then let boredom

and grief gather and burn in you . . .

but, without more ado, wipe off

the greasepaint mask of this sham life,

and like the timid mole dig down

from light into the earth – lie prone

and still, hating life fiercely,

despising all the world and – though

you cannot see the future clearly –

saying to the present: NO.”

Aleksandr Blok, from “Yes. This is the Call of Inspiration.” trans. Stallworthy and France

(Also. Happy Birthday, Aleksandr Blok. I would go drink at your grave -- but its in the middle of an industrial area, and I don't quite feel like dying.)

I’ve come to a recognition while wandering through various places in Russia. I want to be a monk. Not a nun. Not a bride of Christ. A monk. A holy fool. On the edge of society and the edge of reason. A Lover of God.

Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to serve communion, to lead singing, and to preach. The CofC pays lip service to the protestant idea of a priesthood of all believers. In theory, any Christian can bless the Eucharist. In theory, any Christian can serve communion. In theory, any Christian can fulfill the functions of a priest. In general practice, this means a priesthood of all male-bodied believers.

I read once that Saint Therese, the Little Flower, commented once that it was a blessing that she died young, that God allowed her to die in the year she would have been ordained as a priest if she were a man, so that she wouldn’t suffer. If I were a man, I would be a priest.

But I’m not a man. And I’m so bitter now that I’m the person laughing madly in corner, sneering to hide the fact that I’m waiting for the next blow to fall. I’m much too young for this.

Sure, yes, I see the verses stating that the man is the head of the woman. But I’m not a very good woman, and perhaps not even a woman, depending upon how you want to construct the term. And, what about Mary Magdalene? What about Galatians? Why would the Bible tell me in one place that it’s best to remain unmarried, and then later say that if I want to know anything, I have to ask my husband at home?

But we don’t have ordination. And they start training the boys for the ministry as soon as they can hold a Bible in their hands and read. And maybe it shouldn’t have felt like this, but every service where my male peers or even boys hardly old enough to read served the Eucharist, or led the singing, or read from the Bible, or stammered his way through a short sermon, it was another punch, another hit. It didn’t matter that I was as smart as, as talented as, worked as hard as any of those boys. It didn’t matter that when it came done to it, I was a better speaker than the majority of the guys. I was barred for the pulpit. I was exiled to the girls, who giggled together, and thought I was very odd because I didn’t have a crush on any of the boys. A stranger in a strange land. Caught in between two worlds, and in both I’m considered to be a bit “queer.”

Can I be a Christian when the majority of my experience has taught me that there is no place for me in the Body of Christ? No place for the tomboy.

And no, it doesn’t matter than there are many denominations where I would be welcome. I’ve been attacked by too many people bearing the name Christian. Can the goat driven out to the desert ever easily trust another human?

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