So, I’m officially on board on yet another theatre project – another play, produced by one of the teachers at my former school, to be directed by my friend and mentor and co-directed by myself. It’s a play much like the one I’m writing now, Body=Barrier, but a lot more…Christ-focused…and I’m not sure how to handle it.
I’ve grown a lot spiritually in the past year, and finally to a place where I can accept all faiths and representations of spirituality in ways I never could have before. I have a bottle of ‘Love’ from my friend’s fellowship at ‘The Sanctuary’. I’ve had personal conversations with monks, imams and street-preachers. I’ve begun a regular meditation ritual, made plans to visit my old Anglican church, and even have Blessed my mother’s room a couple times for this week alone (but don’t tell her that). I’ve found my faith, the place for my spirit to call home. And it’s all the beautiful things I expected it to be and more.
But, let it be known, I am no Christian.
I’ve had a whole lot of experiences as a former Christian (twice), in dealing with Christians of all different denominations and how they dealt with all the different phases of my spiritual growth. They’ve shaped how I view faith, spirituality and religion for myself and countless others. They’ve even influenced how I talk to people about my faith, other’s faithlessness, and the search for something greater. All of it is responsible for me being pulled closer to faith. But it never for a second pulled me closer to Christianity. In fact, it’s almost always pulled me away…
My most inclusive religious experiences were visiting an Orisha feast, looking at Ramleela from inside the playing area, experiencing my first meditation and, of course, working in theatre. I’ve seen people struggle with representing faith in plays like ‘Son of Man’, understand the darkness of ‘Bitter Cassava’, and I myself have played a Shango devotee in ‘RepatriHaiti’. All this has shaped my faith and understanding. I’ve seen where people’s faiths lie, sometimes uncomfortably. I’ve seen how close they lie to others’ beliefs. I’ve discovered through all this, after almost a half-decade of atheism, that I believed in something supreme and divine the whole blasted time. It just wasn’t the belief that was expected of me.
All this is a big part of Body=Barrier. I had reached a point in my life where I could write a Christian-focused play of my own, and see the beauty and mystery and ability to touch others in a work like that. But I also see where that is no different from the healing, redemptive power of all faith. The play is Christian in a major way, but in some minor way I view it as still Muslim and Hindu and Orisha and Buddhist. All this is because I keep the fight where it needs to be – not against the faithful, but the sinful.
This new play, I’m working on, however, is produced by a lady who made sure this afternoon to tell me that my spiritual revelation is not how I am to touch lives. And I can accept that she has that point of view..except that it’s touched mine, in a way that her revelation has not no matter how her and others like her have tried. This is not me fighting down a religion talk. It’s me owning my faith. If I told a Pentecostal or Jehovah’s Witness that their belief was worthless, it wouldn’t change their heart either.
But that experience, and putting that next to all my other spiritual experiences, brought into question why I am helping direct a Christian play, and writing my own. Is it to prove a point. To sock it to the Christian community? To make a spectacle of myself?
No. It’s to share in, and share with others, the mystery of faith. All faith is the same. It’s built in the same ways, has the same construction, and when it’s well-placed it does the same thing – it calls on people to be the best, most virtuous versions of themselves. It sends Blessings, shares Compassion, brings Peace and shows Love. And, I hope, so do I. Regardless of what I call God.