Cross and Pentacle: Two religions at the crossroads

I was a Jesus Freak, a passionate theologian, and a Southern Baptist minister. I worked hard to convert pagans. The pagans won.

Discovering magic as a witch with an intimate knowledge of western christianity I explore the juxtaposition of these two faiths. Christianity and paganism alike are undergoing dramatic changes with parallel trends, conflicting challenges, and a growing concern for interfaith dialogue.

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The Mark Driscoll I remember

Yesterday, on Oct 15th, mega-church Mars Hill's pastor Mark Driscoll resigned after a number of allegations and scandals. I have stayed out of the discussions and conversations, but there is one memory that keeps haunting me and I finally chose to share it. May our religions, whichever they may be, always bring out the best in us and encourage us to be our true selves.



In 1998 I came to Seattle as an international au pair, but things started to go wrong as soon as I arrived. My host family forgot I was coming and never paid me. I suddenly found myself out of money in a foreign country. It was during this time that I discovered Mars Hill church and fell in love with its cool style of worship, passionate theology, and hip culture. The church rescued me from my au pair situation and moved me into the Noonday Sun, a Mars Hill community house for women.


While searching for work I spent all of my free time volunteering at Mars Hill. We had just acquired the Paradox Theater and I was a token girl there, learning how to use power tools, ripping out seats while talking theology with church leaders. Mark Driscoll would often come work with us. I remember laughing together, discussing theology, construction, Seattle weather, my native Germany. I have many fond memories of that time, including one of a Mark Driscoll who was very different from the author and pastor who just resigned.


It had been a very rainy winter, even more rainy than most Seattle winters. The sun hadn’t made an appearance in 102 days and the air was permanently wet. If it wasn’t raining at the moment, it had either just stopped or was about to start again. On this particular day someone came running into the Paradox shouting “there’s a giant fireball in the sky, you guys have to come see it!” We put down our tools and went outside to look at the sun. It didn’t last long, the rains returned the same day, but we celebrated by ordering pizza and eating outside in the dryish air. As so often, Jeff came walking up. Jeff was a guy who could talk anyone’s ear off. I think he was homeless and I found him very annoying. He could never keep up with our intellectual conversations and would rant about meaningless topics. I really wished we were back inside and he would just go away.


But that day Mark Driscoll was with us and rather than ignoring Jeff, he turned to him and gave him his full attention. Mark listened to everything Jeff said and responded in ways he could understand. I watched Jeff light up. Mark was meeting him at his level of understanding and Jeff was glowing. Mark didn’t just tolerate Jeff’s mundane rantings, he showed no sign of annoyance. Jeff left that day appearing much more peaceful and content.


I felt ashamed of my own attitude. I reflected on how Mark’s behavior was part of a pattern that I admired. It was one of several encounters in which I saw Mark act with exceptional gentleness and kindness. I tried to express this to a friend later that day. I said something about him being different than other men. That he wasn’t macho, that he had a gentleness about him. That there was something tender about him, a softness, a sensitivity, a compassion that other men lacked.


When I met him again a few years later I hardly recognized him. His gentleness was gone, his kindness replaced by hardness. The Mark Driscoll I used to know was lost and I couldn’t find him behind his manly persona. In 1998 I lacked the language to describe the person I had admired. Today I can see that he was a lot like friends I have today, friends who are queer, gay, trans*, gender non-conforming. I don’t know how the 1998 Mark Driscoll would identify, but if I were to meet him again today, I don’t think I’d see a cisgendered heterosexual man.

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Born and raised an evangelical Christian in Germany, I joined the Jesus Freak movement as a teenager and became a passionate evangelist and worship leader. No one was surprised when I went to the US at age 19 and came back a tattooed and pierced fundamentalist Christian, betrothed to a "Chrispie" (a Christian hippie, that is). I was a virgin the day we married. Five years later I graduated bible college with highest honors and post traumatic stress disorder. I deepened both my theology and trauma on the road by traveling the country in a big yellow school bus. For three years I lived as a nomad, playing music and leading bible studies, from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. I learned that Christianity in America encompasses a wide range of beliefs and practices, from Amish groups casting demons out of school busses to Roman Catholic priests breaking into government buildings. I saw Jesus in the oddest places. And then everything changed and I ended up a polyamorous Witch in a Pagan community in California.


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