After church one Sunday, I was talking to a first-time visitor who was a retired pastor, and right away he asked me what kind of church were we. I knew what he meant–among Christian churches, were did we stand on various issues and with whom did we affiliate, but I thought I’d have a little fun. “A Christian church,” I answered. His face had a look of “du-h-h-h”, so he came at it from a different angle, and he asked what we believed. “Oh,” I answered, “we should love God and love others.” At this point he was getting a little frustrated, so I stopped harassing this poor visitor and went and got my pastor so that he could properly situate us in the constellation of American Christianity.
I suppose that we’re all driven to categorize each other while at the same time resisting categorization ourselves. If I had to, how I would label myself as a Christian? The most accurate answer would be ” not a particularly good one,” for I often miss the mark in both what I do and don’t do.
In terms of Christian traditions, I’m a mutt. I was raised in the Catholic church, from which I learned to value social justice and the liturgy of the mass. In high school, I had a profound born-again experience in an evangelical youth group (Campus Life), and I was drawn by the idea of Jesus as a person and the evangelical sense of mission. After five college years in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, I moved to Southern California to be involved in a charismatic church, The Vineyard. There I became fascinated with the Kingdom as something happening now, not just a long time ago. Off to graduate school for marriage and a charming little Episcopal church. Here in Connecticut I have been hanging out in non-denominational community churches while regularly going to noon mass.
So there you have it: I’m your basic Catholic-liturgical-charismatic evangelical.