Tina Fey: Theologian . . . Who Knew?

courtesy gagtroll.com

courtesy gagtroll.com

My parent’s other neighbors have a cat named Joker. He’s an overweight tabby who whores himself through the neighborhood pretending to be homeless and in need of affection. My stepdad fell for Jokers ruse; buying him expensive treats and allowing him to stay the night. Until Joker turned up one day with a collar on which, though heartbreaking, did not hinder my stepdad’s abetting. The neighbors know their cat is kind of a gigolo. They bought him for their son who moved away to college last year. They think Joker must just be lonely. Truth is, my parents have a wood stove . . . and expensive cat treats . . . and my stepdad calls him Jorge, which we are all convinced he prefers.

On occasion the neighbors will need Jorge. So they text. Johnny brought his girlfriend home from college,and she would like to meet his cat. Can you send him home? We are getting ready to take our family photo, have you seen Joker? Sitting down for Christmas Eve dinner, would love for Joker to join us.

Navigating custody disputes with the neighbors has improved my stepdad’s texting skills. He has become hip to all the shorthand.

Lately I have received a number of random texts from him: Lol. Nothing else, just: Lol. He’s a sucker for a romantic comedy so I assumed it was some code letting me know that he was watching something funny. Then he started signing all his texts Lol. “Man, ” he is really happy,” I’ve thought. Turns out, he thought Lol meant “lots of love.” He has unwittingly been laughing at people for weeks.

Right idea, wrong interpretation, incorrect use.

I recently read Tina Fey’s memoire. She recounts a summer spent at a Theatre camp for kids started by a Christian man. The summer changed her life, but she jokes of the motley crew that made up its patronage. She notes that they were probably not at all what this man expected when he started it, and then says something amazing . . . “But it was a pretty good use of his Christianity.”

Those words have hung like a cloud over me ever since I read them . . . a good use of his Christianity.

No matter how good our intentions may be,  the interpretation of our faith determines how we use our faith. When interpreted selfishly we horde our christianity; using prayer as a means to persuade God our direction, twisting scripture to support our point, casting God as a shield against accountability. When interpreted theoretically we deny our faith; exploiting grace as a fire escape, abusing mercy as a parachute, bending truth to soften every blow. When interpreted pridefully we burden our faith; with the weight of requirements, with the strain of judgments, with the stress of unbridled religion. We either use our faith as some magic power to make our lives better, or we embrace our faith as the power to become better in the life that is put before us

So these words hang over me . . . it was a good use of his Christianity.

Because he provided a place for kids who felt they belonged nowhere, and showed them they belonged to one another. From laughed at, to loved.

This is a good use of our Christianity: in word and in deed proclaiming,  “you are not alone.”