Monday, August 26, 2013

Identity, Part I

While we were mulling over what a blog of this sort might look like and read like, my sister and I kept hitting our heads against the issue of "identity".  We are both homeschooled, Christian, middle class, Asian girls.  (For those of you who may not know what that means, it roughly translates to academically over achieving, well-behaved, average girls.)  That does not always make for a very unique presentation of identity in some ways.

But for this first part of my thoughts on the issue of identity, it has struck me very strongly.  The modern world has made identity both something to align and divide.  And whether we like it or not, we can't have it both ways.

Identity has become something that makes us both a part of a group or not a part of a group...or the longer we exist - both.  The stereotypical student wants to be a part of a group (soccer, cheer leading, glee club, etc.) and an individual (kids going around trying to look like Lady Gaga at 12 or 13).

As humans, we all are fundamentally unified by the fact that we are image bearers.  Again, whether we like it or not, our basic anatomy and construction and needs are the same.  Let's narrow our view a little more.  As women, there are parts of our brain that work the same (with some differences allowed for personality).  As Christians, we all follow Christ as Lord and Savior.  The microscope is going in a little further.  And all of a sudden the focus gets lost.  What exactly is supposed to be the identifiers for Christian women?  How can it be that so many thousands of individuals use the same label but look so drastically different?  Is that even allowed as Christians - being different?

At this point, I'm not making any claims or statements about whether these observations are good, bad, ugly, or an inevitable part of the human experience.  But it seems that we are all trying to have our cake and eat it to.  I ran across this article today and it was rather interesting because of what it focused on.  The author focuses on how this separation from being "Christian" seems to be because of the "bad Christians".  And she makes a very good point.  Humans are fundamentally flawed and all Christians are human.  So at some point, we will have a problem.  But what I found more interesting was that there is this division of identity.  We can identify with Christ without being Christians?!  Logically, that is impossible but more importantly, it is both the desire and antithesis of what our humanness longs for.  We desire to belong and to be separate.  People like Marcus Mumford then come out and talk about things like this making us think for a second that we can do it all.

But if you think about it, he just alienated himself from true Christianity.  In his (conscious or unconscious) effort to both belong and separate, Mr. Mumford has made it clear that we cannot have it both ways.  He is not enough of a Christian to want to identify with it nor is he so far removed that he does not accept Jesus as being God.

I have no problem telling people I am a Christian.  But do I just do a Marcus Mumford in how I finish the conversation?  Do I try to have my identity connect and separate at the same time?...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

words, courage, and learning

I like people.  I like talking.  I like learning.  When you put all those things together, you come out with a unique experience.  I am told that I am intimidating because I "grill" people - asking hard questions, trying to understand the hearts and minds of people.

When I ask these questions, I fear that people see my curiosity and questioning as purely argumentative.  I do not ever want this to be the perception and am doing my best to combat that image.  Questions are hard.  They require answers that we don't always like to admit in the open - or at all.  But the world we live in requires that we ask and answer hard questions that often change.

This blog, as it embarks, is mine and my sister's place to ask and answer the hard questions.  A place where we can think out loud and not be afraid to say the wrong thing while we work our way to a good answer.  We hope that you will be patient with us as we think through these things.

Among the questions will be moments of appreciation.  While I like asking and answering questions, there are things in the world which provide clarity that an answer is possible.  Beauty is an integral part of the human experience, part of our most basic makeup.  Sometimes it takes just as much work to see and enjoy beauty in the world as it does to ask/answer the hard questions.

Words are hard to get back.  It takes courage to put them out there.  This is our learning place.  Welcome.