An Interview with Jennifer Knapp Part 2: Church, Sexuality, and Progressive Christianity
Beliefnet continues chatting with Jennifer Knapp in the second part of this personal interview.
One of the questions you were asked was “do you go to church?” How would you answer that now?
I go to church from time to time. I love liturgy; I really do. I actually love high church, to be quite honest. Praise, the whole modern mega-church praise and worship, that never appealed to me. But I just -- I think we forget, and this is going to sound really cheesy, but I feel like I have church at least two or three times a day. It just depends on who I'm talking with, in what enriched type of relationship that I'm willing to engage in, and what I think what the gospel is, which is coming together as a community, serving one another in love and being in those places where you acknowledge something greater than yourself and being willing to be the person who speaks of it.
That happens to me every day, whether I like it or not. So I just -- it gets really hard. I can spend an hour telling you that most -- the person who -- when you answer that question and I answer it the way that I do, which is "No. I don't have a -- I'm not doing worship at a particular church," then that sends off a red flag for somebody that says, "Oh, well, then you're not doing the thing that you're supposed to be doing," and that's not the point of what we should -- to me, that's the more legalistic conversation that you'll never getwith me. At that point, I'm already alienated from them anyway; if they don't want to have any conversation with me whatsoever.
Well, here's the heady, intellectual part of me. I think the question comes from a good place. I think nine times out of ten, when somebody asks you that question, they want to know where it is -- what well it's going to… and that's a valid question. I think the part where we discredit ourselves, it's sort of like a relationship with a partner. The longer that you're together, that you've developed your own shorthand language, and nobody else knows what you’re talking about. The two of you are missing out so many words in between because you’re doing shorthand, that you understand. And I think that sometimes happens in faith communities, where we use the shorthand, like a question like that, and we actually don't realize how much of a potential dialogue that we’re missing, instead of taking the time and saying, “Listen, I’m actually really curious about how you stay encouraged. I’m really encouraged about how you connect with God. How do you connect with the community that enlightens God? Do you find it necessary to be in a community?” Because, let us face it; not everyone’s an extrovert. Some people are introverted. Some people are looked to lock themselves in the cloister for their entire lives, and they’re profoundly spiritual people that affect the world from the periphery. So those are the conversations that, ultimately, excite me and, I think, at the same time, the ones that I really enjoy participating in; because I feel like I get to know -- I get to not only share something about myself, but I usually get know something about the person sitting across the table from me as well.
When you came out, was there a question that you always hoped people would ask you, but they never did?
Not really. I would say not usually. I think what I usually hope is that there are questions that they won't ask. I don't mean that in like there are questions that I don’t want to answer, that perhaps that we could move on to a deeper level of conversation rather than being so -- like for example, “Explain to us how you think it’s okay to be gay and Christian.” That question gets rather tiresome. And I think, like I said, I think it’s well-meaningful and I think when you take the time to be constructive and really consider the larger picture at play, I think those, basically, can be quite fun. I think it’s more of -- I think most of my hopes center around the expectation that those who actually do come and have questions to ask are asking questions -- will ask questions that are designed to bring a diversity to a commonality, without sacrificing the diversity, if that makes sense. That’s what I hope. And it happens and it’s really exciting when it does. I think it’s somebody who tends to answer the same questions day in and day out. It becomes a challenge to try and to not get angry at what seems like questions that aren’t important. Because I think underneath it, they really are -- there are a lot of important issues that sometimes in just a shorthand of our own communities and our own perspective, we don't realize that there’s a lot more to learn inside of that from each other.
We would like to thank Jennifer for being such a good sport, sodon't forget to check out her website and buy all of her albums