In an attempt to increase my productivity and reduce anxiety, I have gone back to studying scripture first thing in the morning - Stop right there! Some of you reading this have just shut down your receptors, haven't you? Why? Is my meditative practice such a threat? Are you afraid you might read something that conflicts with your belief system? Hear me out then, please.
As an author, I have tried not to offend with my "world view", believing that a good story needs to be shared. I didn't want the world I created to be only for those who think like me, and, trusted that if someone wanted to dive deeper for meanings they could, while those just looking for a little escapism could find that, too - much like C.S. Lewis did with The Chronicles of Narnia.
Lewis lived in a time when good writing was appreciated despite personally held points of view. He, along with Chesterton, Tolkien and other Christians were widely read in their time because of the quality of their work, not because the reader always agreed with their morality, which was openly displayed. Though I don't claim the same intellectual depth or comparable ability to entertain as these greats, I do share Chesterton's and Tolkien's profession of faith. (Lewis made an effort to avoid espousing any particular denomination.) Yet, despite believing, I have rarely shared anything online that acknowledges my religious beliefs, fearing it could turn off a large segment of readers. I do it for you, right? Trying not to offend you.
Why, then, did I feel so convicted this morning when I pulled out my Bible?
Fence sitting has it's downside - kind of like going to college for four years and never declaring a major; who can tell what you actually know?
Even God, it seems, wants to see the proof in the pudding. There is a verse in Matthew's gospel (bear with me, agnostic and atheist friends) that says "Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in Heaven." You may or may not believe in God, as is your prerogative, and if you definitely don't, then that scripture verse shouldn't bother you at all! The fact that I believe He gave you the free will to decide that shouldn't affect my ability to entertain you any more than it affects, say, your choice of a dentist or grocer. Or is it that words are more of a threat than dental drills and produce aisles? Are my "subliminal powers of persuasion" going to keep you from enjoying a romp through enchanted landscapes with fantastical creatures, any more than price markdowns and colorful signage are going to make you switch toothpaste brands, or give up shopping for food? Maybe. Maybe not.
I like to look for what unites, rather than what divides us; that is a major theme in my work. However, I weary of pretending I don't have a system of belief, that I am unerringly neutral. I am tired of sitting on the fence. There is too much polarization in the world we live in today and, yes, I would rather not add to it, though I would like to grow. In order to grow, I first need to acknowledge where, and who, I am. I am a Christian. Not always a very good one, but that goes without saying.
In my mind, we are ALL God's children, naive in our understanding of what is, and what is yet to be...
...and understanding only grows when we are open to growth.