Dr. Marcus Borg: Putting Away Childish Things (Excerpt 3)

Chapter 18

_ pp 211-213 _

Erin stopped. She bit her lip and then said, "Can I ask you another question, kind of a personal one?"

"Sure," Kate said.

"Well, I have the impression that you think it's okay to be gay and Christian."

Kate nodded.

"And I have the impression that your view of the Bible is pretty liberal, or whatever word you would want to use. And that you don't think Christianity is the only true religion. And I also have the impression that you take Christianity very seriously. I mean, I know you can't talk about that in class, but I've heard that you go to church and teach classes there and that you start your days with prayer--there's a lot of stuff out there on the student grapevine."

Erin tucked her hair behind her ear and looked up at Kate. "So what I want to ask is, Is it hard to be Christian and to think like you do?"

Kate wondered what the most helpful response would be. Then she said, "No, it's not hard. In fact, it's made it easier for me to be wholeheartedly Christian. You know, there are some unnecessary intellectual stumbling blocks to being Christian--like needing to believe that the Bible is inerrant and that we are to interpret it literally and factually, or that really big miracles happened in biblical times, or that the earth is only ten thousand years old. The way I see things means that those obstacles are gone, and then the real meaning of Christianity emerges."

"And what's the real meaning?" Erin asked.

Kate shrugged. "It's pretty simple: it's about centering more and more deeply in God. And for Christians, that means centering in God as revealed decisively in Jesus. Of course, it's not simple to do-for most of us it takes a long time to become deeply centered in God. But I think that's what being Christian is about. It's not very much about believing things that are hard to believe."

Erin was silent and then said, "What do you mean by centering in God? I like the way it sounds, but I'm not sure what it means."

Kate thought for a moment. "Well, our relationship with God is somewhat like a human relationship. It grows and deepens to the extent that we pay attention to it--by taking time for it, spending time in it, attending to it. It's about longing and prayer and worship--that's how we center in God. To center in God and not in all the other things that we could center in. Actually, that's the meaning of faith-faith isn't really about believing in God, but centering in God. You know what St. Augustine said? 'Our hearts are restless until they find their home in God.' We find our home in God by centering in God."

Kate looked at Erin. "Does that make sense?" Then, looking at her watch, "Sorry to be a timekeeper. But I have about five minutes more before I need to pull some things together and go to my morning class. Anything we can talk about in that time?"

After a few moments, Erin said. "No, I don't think so. But I know I want to think about what you've said, and I'm pretty sure that I'll want to come and talk to you again. Would that be okay?"

Kate smiled at Erin. "Of course--I would enjoy that."


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