Animist with Christian Ancestry

Animist with Christian Ancestry

Mx Chris identifies as an ethnic Calvinist. They were baptized into the Christian Reformed Church–which tends to be an especially Dutch, European-American tradition. Mx Chris was confirmed in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and ordained as an elder at Tabernacle United Church (Philadelphia, PA) which is P.C.U.S.A. and United Church of Christ. In other words, they have been deeply shaped from birth in white Reformed/Calvinist Christian traditions.

That said, Mx Chris has had a journey from those roots into both ecumenical Christian community and into multi-faith community. Black Church Christianities have been an important part of Mx Chris finding a more embodied and liberationist faith experience. Also, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, and Indigenous friends and colleagues have had a huge impact in terms of expanding Mx Chris’s approach to both spirit and creation.

The language around “Animist” may mean a variety of things in different contexts (e.g. academic discussions). For Mx Chris, it means prioritizing respectful relationship, not only with living humans, but with human ancestors and the children yet to come, with tree people and plant people, with water people and rock people, with four-legged and winged ones. Dr. Daniel Foor has been a helpful teacher for Mx Chris in claiming this identity as their own. [Learn More]

As an Animist thinking about ancestral traditions, Mx Chris then recognizes that Christianity is a huge part of their lineage. Chris does identify as a “Witness to the Resurrection.” However, they have found liberation in no longer arguing with various definitions what it means to be “Christian” and instead leans into an Animistic framework for engaging Christian tradition. They also find this to be a useful way to variously acknowledge and appreciate that other ancestral traditions and cultural lineages have also had an impact on them.

If you press Mx Chris for beliefs, you may hear agnostic or non-theistic perspectives. Yet, they are fluid enough to use cultural repertoire around God language as well. They are (re)learning to read Christian scripture in a more multivocal way from Jewish friends and colleagues, but also honor other sacred text (e.g. Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider is one example). Practices that emerge from Daoist lineages support Mx Chris in seeking health and balance. They are increasingly more concerned with embodiment and relationship than with belief (especially dogmatic belief systems).

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