Posts filed under ‘Josh’
This post will hopefully be short. I have not written much in a while but recently have been solving what I believe to be a direct result of strong religious influence: drama.
It has occurred to me that fundamentalist beliefs are a direct precursor to drama. All those sayings about “keeping alert” and never letting yourself be lulled to spiritual slumber brought me, on more than one occassion, to wonder why is nothing spiritual happening? And then, in my own way, I would begin seeking out signs of drama occurring to confirm to myself that something spiritual was happening.
And then you have pastor’s making overarching statements like “if you have not been involved in leading someone to the Lord or witnessing recently then you should check your spiritual life out to make sure you are not becoming spiritually lazy” or the apostle Paul saying drama dripping statements like “if you want to be godly you will be persecuted” (paraphrased). The obvious implication is that if you are not being persecuted you are not being godly enough. Therefore: seek drama!
From doing some reading on the internet I’ve come to realize that drama is a natural human reaction to boredom. This makes some sense when one considers that concept of a small-town gossip, but it makes even more sense to me when considering all the drama in churches back home where everyone is looking for signs of spiritual activity of some sort. Everyone wanted a stable, united church but everyone also wanted spiritual warfare to be visible in their lives so they did not feel spiritually lazy.
The end result? Drama.
Fast forward to today: I have come to realize that the drama in my life (just read some of my old posts) has lingered until today. I find myself almost subconsciously double-checking my emotions and if I do not “feel right” its almost like I get a little rush from it. It takes me back to all the times I thought that Satan was involved in a situation when in reality someone (maybe me) was just being an ass or someone was just in a bad mood. It was almost like my belief that everything was right was fueled by feeling that something was wrong. Because, after all, if you felt a dark spiritual presence attacking you that must mean you are right with the Lord. Or you are wrong with the Lord. In any case, it was a little fuel for the spiritual fire. And going from those dark, black moods to a realization that they are actually a sign that everything is good is the ultimate rush. I’ll dub it spiritual bipolarism.
We grew up learning about the spiritual “greats”: Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, Edwards, etc. The one thing I do remember reading, though, is that all of these men – in their own way – suffered from deep depression for large periods of their life.
Could it be that the “spiritual depression” and drama are a direct result of the underlying concept that seeing drama is the ultimate way to confirm to yourself you are in a spiritual battle and thus succeeding spiritually?
Just a thought :)
Religious people often make the case that people like being atheists, agnostic, or just non-believing because then they can “do whatever they want”. The idea is simple: if there is no god, there is no one watching you when you are alone and therefore there are no consequences as long as you can get away with something. In other words, atheists can turn a blind eye to their own actions.
The last couple of years I have watched in utter astonishment as “True Christian” after “True Christian” have on the one hand turned their eye to corruption around them and on the other self-righteously and tirelessly stood up for their favorite principles. It seems as if turning the blind eye is completely subjective and is not limited to the atheists. It is a human problem.
Along with this observation, I have had another question floating around in the back of my mind: why is it that some of us leave and some stay Christian? How is it that tiny details can drive one person to leave their faith while others can simply ignore them completely and act as if they are honestly no big deal?
For example, it may bother a good Christian woman endlessly to hear a swear word or be in the company of someone who is drinking alcohol but when it comes to sending troops to die in Iraq for what might be a trumped-up war… she can honestly act like it is not her problem and that they are serving the Lord by giving their lives up. A person can whine about a little wine and praise Jesus over a dead relative in battle?
For secularists things like this bother us enormously. We feel a sense that overwhelming injustice is being done by our fellow humans.Vote for a Christian Republican who supports creationism and refuses to even read the evidence for evolution? Be against abortion even in the case of rape? Teach the Bible is inerrant when there are so many “obvious” errors? Support Palin?
Wow, my titles are getting more depressing though I think my content is more hopeful. This post should not be an exception – I hope.
The more I’ve been thinking about dealing with the arrogance versus humility issue, the more it has pried open an issue which, ironically for me, has become somewhat tautological. Suppression.
I’m pretty sure that every person deals with this on a daily basis, but I’m also pretty sure that conservative Christians are masters of exacerbating it. In fact, I was heavily on my way to becoming a guru when it came to suppressing everything I felt and wanted. And here is how I have been setting myself free.
For the most part I’ve identified two major areas of suppression in my own life: physical and emotional. Intellectually I suppressed some things – like how I considered evolution to be beautiful and immediately thought it was the devil speaking to me. But for the most part, I did not feel like the intellectual side of my mind was hindered too much by the Christianity with which I grew up. And if my intellect was suppressed, I feel that I have sufficiently dealt with that. Many of you may notice the change in tone of my posts – that I used to be much more analytical. So that leaves me with physical and emotional suppression.
Physical suppression revealed itself most strongly in sexuality. I remember distinctly being terrified of my first sexual thoughts. In my early arrogant Christian days – at around the age of 9 – I remember looking up to the teenagers around me in disgust. Who are these apes, gallivanting about all stupid and shit? I won’t be like them. I’m a good Christian. I’ll never look at porn. I’ll never commit adultery. I will never have sex before marriage. I had not yet learned that only the arrogant say “I would never”…
The topic of humility versus arrogance has been – for the longest time – a major blocker in my own thinking as I am sure it has been for others. I remember wrestling with this issue for years as far back as when I was thirteen or fourteen. At that time I would hear others talk about it and try to sort out what it means and how to achieve it.
As I remember, the struggle went something like this. I had been told multiple things about humility – and as with all Christian doctrine – I noticed through recurring headaches that there were strong contradictions in what I was taught.
One of those major contradictions was the impossibility of pursuing ones ability to be humble if a humble person does not think about their humility. A lot of people told me not to think about being humble, but I knew I was commanded to be humble. This, naturally, made me introspect to figure out whether I was. Then I would remember that a person who is humble cannot know it. But how am I supposed to pursue humility if I cannot think about it?
Naturally I wanted to resolve this contradiction. I mean, if it hurt my head that much surely resolving it would help others, right?
But there was a problem. The Bible. The Bible was the problem. First of all, the Bible never said that a humble person does not recognize his humility. In some places it implies the opposite. If you believe Moses wrote Deuteronomy, then you have to believe that a humble man can honestly – and in humility – write that he is the most humble man on earth. Noticing this, I began to garner a general distrust for Christian memes, since it seemed like people were ultimately pulling their end ideas out of their ass and these normally contradicted the Bible in some way…
[Note: this is a difficult and heavy post. If you are enjoying your Easter, please don't read until tomorrow. Happy Easter everyone!]
Today I woke up and was pretty happy. The birds were churping, we have a full house between my roommates and their parents coming to visit, I just finished a massive requirement for a project yesterday that consumed roughly 115-120 hours in the last two weeks, and I’m just excited to be alive.
While for the most part I have moved on from the religious ‘discussion’ (and have not posted here in a while) I found myself this morning anxious, apprehensive, and conflicted. Religious holidays tend to do this to me now – although it is getting better.
I’m in Chicago – miles away from the friends and family that I grew up with and I miss them. I miss the Easter dinners, the good times we had, and the sunshine and kickball. But I don’t miss Jesus, I don’t miss church, and I don’t miss the beliefs that I once cherished.
Since leaving, I have come to realize that the beliefs of fundamentalist Christians are sadistic. The other day it occurred to me once again that they believe that I am a wretched sinner in need of Jesus and unless I accept Him I am going to hell. They praise the person who created this hell and then blame me wholly for going there. My confession on this Easter is that I don’t know how to emotionally and mentally deal with being friend with people who believe this. I’ve never known how to mentally grasp the concept of an eternity in hell. And yet to the fundamentalist Christian all the joy of Easter rests solely on their being delivered from that awful invented place…
Take a look at this verse:
Titus 3:10 “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.”
Now think about it.
This command says to separate from divisive people. Hmmm.
Consider: by having “nothing to do with him” how are you ever to reconcile things? You cannot reconcile unless you discuss the issue that caused the division in the first place, but if you deem the issue divisive you might not be able to resolve it! So if the person ever comes back and confesses their “divisiveness”, then is he or she just never supposed to bring up the issue that caused the division ever again? In order to follow this command, you have to break it, and nothing ever gets accomplished!
In practice, a situation here at home has devolved into exactly what you predict would happen when people follow this command to the letter. An elder brings up an issue: the issue begins to “divide”. The elder is deemed “divisive”. The issue over which he is dividing is moot at this point, because it is determined that he is sinning – not on the basis of whether the issue he is bringing up is right or not – but on the basis of the fact that it is causing disunity. As such, everyone in the church is told to have nothing to do with him.
So basically this command devolves into a Biblical gagging order. Literally shut up and shut out people whose information could cause a division. And the minority will always be labeled the divisive group.
The real problem with this command is its subjective nature: the judge and the jury become one in the same. After all, on its surface it sounds like good advice: avoid people who are breaking up relationships. That sounds good, right? After all, that type of person should be avoided…
Hold onto your pants, boys and girls, the following sick and humorous story is true…
A couple months ago, an elder at my family church was reprimanded and kicked out for having an “improper hermeneutic”. Apparently he was beginning to question the doctrine of Lordship salvation as he saw that it was being used by the church as an element of control. Basically Lordship salvation holds that a person is not actually saved unless they make Jesus their Lord. This means that a church can, at their discretion, determine whether a member is “making Christ their Lord” based upon the members assessed behavior. Ultimately, this elder was concerned the church was becoming extremely legalistic and un-Christlike in their love towards those attending. Basically, they were using doctrine to be assholes.
Now, step back a few months before. This elder was sitting in an elders meeting in which nearly every elder, except for the pastor, admitted they did not know what “hermeneutics” was. My father is the elder who explicitly said this. They immediately all agreed that they needed to study hermeneutics.
So imagine this elder’s surprise when he is told that he is in a form of rebellion against the church and was being kicked out for having an improper hermeneutic. Obviously, the pastor had a strongarm in this decision. To make a long story short, he was basically told to write his resignation letter or else he would be dismissed that Sunday. He was not allowed to defend himself, his position, or get a clear answer as to what he had done wrong. The most obvious conclusion given the circumstances was that he was the most educated elder besides the pastor and the pastor was beginning to be jealous of the amount of influence he had. The kicked out elder was becoming interested in allowing my brother’s fiance to lead a Bible study and the pastor was basically like “we don’t know who this girl is or what she will teach…”