A couple of weeks ago, I took a quote from Casey Fleming’s blog sermon (have you read this week’s? If not, go now!) about the need for liberal Christians to raise our voices against “rising Christian fundamentalism.”
The easy part of that is challenging fundamentalism; the harder part, for me at least, is writing as a person of faith. In fact, in the sorts of debates that this blog takes on, someone always ends up surprised if I say I’m a Christian.
I don’t blame them. Before my mom died and my daughter was born, I probably wouldn’t have called myself a Christian. I barely call myself a Christian now, except for the fact that, well, I believe Christ was who He said He was, and that He did what is said of Him, and that when I’m doing good I’m following His example. And I don’t know what that makes me if not a Christian.
I’m not stupid—I know there are good reasons for doubting all of these things. And I don’t blame anyone for not believing these things. But though they’re tinged in doubt, I’ve always held these beliefs. I can’t not hold these beliefs.
So I’m resolving to write more about what I do believe, instead of just pointing out the holes in fundamentalist theology. But I’m easing into it with baby steps: for the next few Sundays, I’m going to show you the churches that have shaped me. For me faith and grace and beauty are inseparable, and that has everything to do with the spaces where I got to know Christianity.
First up, pictured above, Christ Church in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
My mom took me to services in Spain and Virginia, before we moved to Charleston, but Christ Church is the first church building I remember.
According to Suzanne Cameron Linder’s Anglican Churches in Colonial South Carolina, the church was created as part of the Church Act of 1706. Some of the gravestones in the cemetery date to before the Revolutionary War; the vestry house where I went for sunday school was built in 1751.
I like that history; I also like the church’s modest scale.
Linder writes that Christ Church’s architecture serves as “a reminder of the regularity and stability provided by the Anglican Church in the long struggle to transform a wilderness into a civilization.”
That’s not exactly how I remember it. It’s true that the church’s straight lines contrast the natural shagginess (palmetto trees, spanish moss) of the landscape. But it’s not exactly civilization vs. the wild, because what happens inside is the rich, colorful Episcopal service. There’s order in those walls, but mystery both within and without.