I caught a few minutes – my favorite few minutes – of the movie Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner a few days ago. It’s the part where Sidney Poitier’s character, John Prentice, finally confronts his father (who opposes his engagement to a white girl) by saying: “Dad … You think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself … as a man.”
This post isn’t about race. It’s about identity.
I grew up in a church that was somewhat uncomfortable among fellow congregations proudly bearing the sign “Church of Christ.” Our preaching minister, David H. Bobo, was not exclusivist in his view of fellowship and brotherhood. At the time, my parents – and my late dad was an elder there – tended toward that exclusionary view.
How many I times I heard David Bobo recite by heart (not just memory) the poem that closes “… but love and I had the wit to win; we drew a circle that drew them in!”
There were times when I wished I could tell my folks how I felt; conjure the words I would have patterned after John Prentice’s revelation:
“Mom … Dad … You think of yourselves as members of the Church of Christ. I think of myself … as a Christian.”
Dad has passed on, and I think he was moving toward a wider definition of Christianity in his later years. Mom has certainly begun to.
These days I find a less-cultured metaphor in an ALLTEL television commercial: seeing myself wanting to move to embrace those icons of other fellowships that I have included in my “friendship circle;” longing to answer their objections “But that’s not the way we do business!” with the same confident reply of the ALLTEL guy:
“It is now.”
What do you think of yourself as?