Friday, February 22, 2013

The Man on the Other Side of the Tiber

This may not be the last thing I have to say about religious identity, in particular because ripples from a shift in religious identity will likely take awhile before they settle down completely, if they ever do. Perhaps given the current sad rift between Christians, this is inevitable. I would be curious if anyone else who has crossed the great river has had similar experiences.

They have a saying in the Catholic Church--"Crossing the Tiber." Now the Tiber is a river, and as I understand, the crossing of the Tiber means going Catholic, what with the Tiber being geographically associated with Rome.

Maybe this, or maybe this isn't, a common experience in conversion. But in my experience, one thing that happens, or at least can happen, is that part of you will remain on the other side for the river, with the same sensibilities and preferences you had before. Now the Tiber can be a dangerous stream, and I daresay it's not necessarily much easier to get the rest of you over than it is to get your deciding portion over in the first place. There was a time in my life after my conversion when that man shouted louder, when I felt the urge to turn back more strongly. When that time ended my reaffirmation of my initial choice to swim the Tiber, but I’m not sure I did so in the healthiest manner, perhaps to mask my own insecurities about my chosen path.

The Scripture does tell you to put to death what belongs to the sinful nature, and it also tells you to die to yourself. But one thing the Scripture does not say is to kill yourself. I think somewhere along the line I tried to shoot the man on the other side of the Tiber. I'm fairly confident that I missed, and hit some other people instead. I'm also not entirely confident that that I was always aiming for him to begin with, and I'm not very proud of that possibility.

There are, certainly, plenty of things one can be angered about legitimately, and I don't mean to decry my embrace of Catholicism in the name of charity, real or superficial. But to anyone who suffered unjust displays of anger from me as a side effect of religious identity--I am sorry. Please forgive me.