Surprisingly, I never picked up another book from the series. It was only in the past few months that I decided to read C.S. Lewis again, despite my admiration.
I have been slowly getting through The Screwtape Letters. This last chapter put into words a concept that I have been thinking about for the better part of a year at this point, so I wanted to share a particular passage:
What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call 'Christianity And'. You know-Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychological Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians, let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.
Despite the fact this book was written in 1942, it is hauntingly accurate and appropriate for our lives in 2014. So-called "modern times" ask us to cash in aspects of our faith that can be difficult to reconcile with what we are told by the world is the best for all. It feels as though we must qualify our faith in order to gain even the most strained acceptance, or "tolerance" from others.
My first post for Cathofeminism was essentially every frustration I had on the matter, pouring out onto the screen. As an advocate, I had felt as though I was estranged from both those that wanted to help survivors of intimate partner violence, and from members of my faith community. It wasn't that both groups were wrong, or that one was right and one was wrong. In fact, both sects had truth but are still unable to put differences aside and see that truth in action.
I do not have to be a Christian and a Feminist, or a Christian and a Humanist. My Catholic faith is enough to support all the 'ists' and 'isms' that are true. As the readings this Sunday reminded us: "...whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself."' (Rom 13:8-10)
I find this realization refreshing and a bit humorous in the face of a current Facebook circulation:
It isn't that the message is wrong. The war over what exactly our duty is to our brothers and sisters on this world have been waging for decades. Are we called to correct sin? Judge the sin and not the sinner? Proclaim it from the rooftops and be persistent in our mission to offer accountability? Or, should we love? Should our actions speak the volumes that others need to hear from us? Maybe both. Maybe neither.
I don't know the right way to be Christian anymore than the next person, but I find that C.S. Lewis has a compelling point. Perhaps we are qualifying our faith to avoid being categorized with those that are not reflecting Christ's love from the inside of Christianity. Perhaps we qualify it to gain a degree of credibility with those that do not share a faith in Christ. No matter the reason, I am happy to be alive during the time of Pope Francis. He is a constant reminder for me to just show love. When your thoughts, words, and heart are in line with Christ's love, there is no inconsistency. There is no reason for Christianity And.