I was raised Episcoplian. I'm no longer a Christian - and you could make a decent argument, despite baptism and confirmation, that I never really was. But I was raised in it, and part of that teaching was a surprisingly firm idea of what Christianity should be, even if it often fails to live up to its own standards. The God I was raised to believe in - even though I don't - was a God of Mercy more than a God of Justice; a God who neither expected nor required us to get everything right, but rather implored us to (in the immortal words of Bill and Ted) "Be excellent to each other."
Over the years, I've been pleased to see that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Anne Lamott, author of Bird By Bird, Plan B (which includes a wonderful piece on David Roche and the Church of 80% Sincerity), Traveling Mercies, and various other books, is one; Fred Clark, of Slacktivist is another; and there are others as well. The most recent of these is Cary Bleasdale, who penned this:
If they did religion right,
And I mean, did it right when they started the whole thing off.
And if there was a God.
We wouldn’t have words
To describe the sacred mystery
Instead, we’d have a word to describe
The transformation of the blessed news
That we’re all, sorta, kinda, beautiful
Into the real cessation
Of all the stupid shit we do.
And that word, and that world
Would be unsubstantiated by the experience
And essence of suffering because the only true
Phrase in all the bible is ‘vale of tears,’
Which is the only part of the whole damn thing
That should’ve been written by William Shakespeare.
And if there was a God,
there would be a word for the feeling
Of waking up next to your lover and staring up
At your cheap, leaking, plaster ceiling and knowing
In that moment that everything’s gonna be alright
And if there was a God,
He would tell us the word for being young and broke
With holes in your pants and bumming your smokes
For loving the sunshine and dirty jokes
And for finding your god in a rum and coke
Or maybe in a church, the sort of church they don’t make anymore
With no stained glass in the windows and a hole in the floor
Where they raise your spirits, where they raise their voices
Where they raise the roof,
And the love in your blood is ninety proof
And you can still taste the sins from the night before
But you had a good time, and that’s alright,
Because if there is a God, he’s the sort of God
Who helps drunks cross the street against the light.
And if there was a God, you could call Jesus at ten AM
On a Tuesday morning and he’d pick up the phone and tell you
All sorts of things, about stars and trees, and his brand new shoes
And you could talk to Jesus and tell him that really funny joke
About the three old nuns who walk in on the pope
And he’d tell you the one about the Irishman
And when you asked him if he’s a baseball fan
He’ll put Babe Ruth on the phone. Just for you.
And just before he’d hang up, he’d say
Hey, you’re beautiful. And I love you.
And it wouldn’t make it ok
But you’d be able to get out of bed
And that is worth a prayer.
And if there is a God, it’s inspiration
And if there is a saving grace, it’s perspiration,
And if there is something that makes me believe in god,
But good fornication, the kind of fornication you have on your kitchen floor
Because you both woke up thirsty at three am and wound up
In a perfect pool of moonlight that may
Or may not, have been sent by God.
And if there is a God.
I don’t think he watches.