One Christian Feeling Hijacked by Politics

Article excerpt

On a recent evening after I drove my two oldest boys to a church youth group, my husband and 4-year-old and I went to grab a bite. When the food came, my husband held his hands out to say our usual family grace: "God is great, God is good ..."

I shrank back.

"I don't want to do this," I said.

He was startled.

So was I, but I said, "I don't want to be a Public Christian."

My husband stared at me for a few seconds, and then said, "I understand. I guess I don't either. Let's say a silent prayer."

And we did.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to religion or worship. But I worry about how contemporary politics have taken religion hostage.

As a cradle Episcopalian, I am a practicing Christian - someday I hope to get it right. I have spent nearly every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening of my life at church - worshiping, singing, and socializing with a community of people who inspire and comfort me.

I'm also a church musician, which means that I have worshiped with many different denominations over the years, playing for Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, and Lutherans.

When I was in college, I played a crummy electronic organ for a nondenominational 7 a.m. service in the Wilford Hall hospital chapel at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. That was where they brought American POWs retrieved from Vietnam. I saw ambulatory skeletons there, every kind of injury imaginable, and many that were unimaginable. For two years, I shared in weekly Christian rituals of healing and reconciliation, trying to bring the living wounded and the walking dead back into the community. Those were the loneliest people I ever met. Hardly anyone sang, but it seemed important to keep playing the hymns.

These days, I worship twice on Sundays, playing for one service at 9 a.m. and singing with the choir at 11. I get to hear the sermon twice. I get to confess twice. I pray for the poor, the sick, the dying, for mercy, peace, and justice, and for our country. At the second service, I take communion with my family.

At both services, I exchange the peace with Christians who span the political spectrum. Before he left Texas for Washington, Karl Rove and his family belonged to my church. I voted against Bush. …