At one time, I was part of the Jesus Movement, which, in the 1970s, offered a drug-free high to teens and young adults who were seeking something beyond materialistic goods—the sequel to the hippy movement.
The Jesus Movement was slowly absorbed by traditional forms of Christianity. Ad hoc prayer meetings and random gatherings slowly merged with Sunday church services. These institutionalized meetings were more reliable historically of course. But to many of us, they were less interesting than the spontaneous, counter-culture movement that attracted us to Jesus.
Over the decades, I attempted to work with and find value in these weighty institutions. In my case this meant attending protestant churches, mostly non-denominational. While I still respect many aspects of the best moments of these organizations, the representations of Jesus that excited me in the beginning became increasingly harder to experience.
Eventually, I stopped calling myself a Christian, because that label had accrued too much cultural baggage. This baggage created so many obfuscations of Christ that I threw it overboard, like ballast, so that I could keep looking for and seeing, if only at a great distance, Christ. You could say I’m label-sensitive and feel obliged to defend the merits of a label. Dropping the name of “Christian” was of course for mental relief and not something I expected of others.
Since that time (2013), things have gotten much worse, in America at least (2022). The forced marriage between Jesus and nationalism, as well as that between the Gospel and lamentable conspiracy theories, makes me sad. Both conservative protestant and Catholic circles have been infected.
I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing I am not a card-carrying “Christian,” with the ostensible duty to either defend or reform the various institutions. Of course I pray for and focus my attention on the people—just as I do whenever given the choice between a group and an individual.
If I were to need a label, I’d call myself someone who loves Jesus.
After decades of refusing to say much publicly about my faith, I am now gaining confidence. The good news about Jesus has won my deepest respect and inspires me to keep this web log.
What began as a relief to teenage nihilism in 1972 has grown into a deep longing for the Jesus of the gospels to be revealed to me and expressed in my life.
The mission, then, is to help myself and any readers see the unseen reality of Christ and value rightly his role in this world.