the Empathy List #70: Intersectionality & the Lie of Christian Unity

What the Evangelical Church Never Taught Me, Part 8

Hey friend, Liz here.

You didn’t hear from me last week because I was updating the look of this newsletter—new logo, new headshot, etc.—and I only have so many free minutes in a week. (And I’m not a designer, so I’m hella slow!) If you have a minute, would you REPLY and tell me what you think?

In other news… I’m thinking about the lie of Christian unity this week.

By which I mean, the idea that Christ is most honored when we share a hive mind, all of us worker bees on the same mission: to defend Christ to the ends of the earth, cutting down any dissenters as we go. (Sigh.)

As you can tell, I feel great disillusionment when I consider the way that Christians have habitually flattened culture, personality, and bodies in pursuit of such a vision. This uniformity, in fact, does not remotely resemble what’s described in the Bible when it comes to our utopic ending.

Because “Christian unity” can often be evangelicalism’s code for white, male, cis, and middle class. (Surprise!)

Are you female? Indigenous? Transgendered? Homeless? Then your job is to conform to the median believer, who always happens to look and act one way.

What is truer to the Scriptures is actually more in line with the idea of intersectionality, the blend of culture and bodies that celebrates diverse peoples and perspectives, all of us arguing and rubbing against each other in our pursuit of Jesus.

Frankly, that’s a contagious vision, one that attracted not only Jewish men of a certain standing, but sex workers, lepers, gentile widows and Roman soldiers, slaves and slave owners alike. It’s a vision that continues to fill churches in the most unexpected places, across our spinning globe, a vision that can shift based on cultures and epochs, that can encompass much more than we’re used to being as the American church.

The reason I follow Christ isn’t because I belong, but because I don’t belong.

I am not that image of Christendom, though I once tried to be. And instead of that disqualifying me, that makes me a voice worth listening to.

The same is true of you. What makes you distinct and surprising to your friends and neighbors? That is where Christ dwells, my friend. You do not only deserve a
”seat at the table”; you are called to make up a new table with empty seats, ready to be filled by others unlike you.

This is where the gospel is enacted—in our differences, not in our sameness. May you live into your distinctions this week.

Thanks for reading. Warmly, Liz Charlotte Grant


#1

Do you wonder if you fit into your faith community? These women are trying to become Catholic priests, so just imagine the awkward conversations they’re currently having behind closed doors…

The New Yorker | Read more…


#2

Making peace with dandelions: As I spend more time on my hands and knees, weeding my backyard vegetable garden, I feel grateful for a reminder that weeds are a sign of life, growth, and a promise of a new future.

Stars! In the grass! my son used to point and say when he toddled about our lawn, which my husband and I took as both an indictment and a delight.”

Orion | Read more…


#3

Meet the man who tried to walk on water in a homemade, inflatable hamster wheel. (I have so many questions…)

The New York Times | Read more…


#4

These are the Olympic events to see! The 50 best events in Tokyo, ranked, for your watching enjoyment.

Slate | Read more...


#5

Everybody loves Jason Sudeikis. (“Ted Lasso” was the best show to come out during the pandemic—all the Grant grown-ups agree, for once!)

“Last year, as it became clear that [Ted Lasso] was a hit, he found himself answering, over and over, some version of the same question. The question would vary in its specifics, but the gist of it was always: How much do you and this character actually have in common? Sudeikis told me that over time, in response to people wondering about his exact relationship to Ted, he developed a few different evasive explanations. Ted, Sudeikis would say, was a little like Jason Sudeikis, but after two pints on an empty stomach. He was Sudeikis hanging on the side of a buddy's boat. He was Sudeikis, but on mushrooms. Sometimes, in more honest moments, he would say that Ted is the best version of himself. This, after all, is how art works: If it was just you, then it wouldn't really need to be art in the first place. And so Sudeikis learned to separate himself from Ted, to fudge the distance between art and artist.

“Except, he said, after a while, every time he tried to wave off Ted, fellow castmates or old friends of his would correct him to say: ‘No.’ They'd say: ‘No, that is you. That is you. That's not the best version of you.’ It's not you on mushrooms, it's not you hanging off a boat, it's just…you.” 

GQ | Read more…


Just for Fun…

Greetings, fellow billionaires, this is your captain speaking, and this tax break’s on me. (You’re welcome, poor people.)