Christians want me to fail…REALLY???

polar plunge 7

By Kenneth Justice

Kenneth, none of them have been supportive this entire time; they totally ignore me now that I’m clean. Yet when I was f**king up; when I was doing heavy drugs and drunk all the time they were always wanting to talk to me; both to my face and behind my back” he said

~ For the last couple years I’ve been meeting regularly with a 20-something young man at coffee who wanted to turn his life around. At fifteen he got caught up in drugs and alcohol and after a short stint in the U.S. Coastguard (which only seemed to perpetuate the chemical dependency problem) he finally realized his life was going nowhere a few years ago.

Having heard of me through mutual acquaintances he started visiting me at one of my coffee hangouts to talk about life….he simply needed a friend ‘to be there for him’ and so he regularly sits down at my table to drink coffee.

His parents and sisters are hardcore Christian fundamentalists; the type that if you don’t believe things ‘their  way’…then you might as well go choke a rubber chicken because you’ll always be a reprobate in their mind unless you totally follow their rules and regulations.

Kenneth, when I was drunk all the time my sisters would call me up repeatedly and tell me what a worthless sinner I was; they’d tell me I was headed to hell and they would constantly talk about me behind my back….but now that I’ve been sober for a year they never call me at all. It’s like now that I’m doing fine…..they don’t know what to do with me” he said

Kenneth, do you think that Christians like my parents and sisters want people to fail? Do you think they want people to be worse than them so it helps them feel better about themselves” he asked. It’s a tough question that the young man posed because it seems hard to fathom that family members would want him to fail…doesn’t it?

Interpersonal family conflict is nothing new to the world; sibling rivalry and parent-child conflict goes as far back as human history has been recorded. But when we introduce intense brands of religion into the equation the problem becomes even more intensified for all the parties involved.

Growing up in a fundamentalist branch of Christianity myself, I know from firsthand experience that the religious element, instead of being a positive force of grace and peace…..often ends up being used to place major guilt trips and heavy burdens upon children that are difficult to bear.

My young coffee friend has all but rejected any belief in god, “Why would I want to believe in a god that produces people who act like my sisters?” he has said to me on numerous occasions. It’s the type of question famous Christian philosophers like C.S. Lewis and little guys like myself have pondered as well; how can I remain faithful in my Christianity in the face of so many Christians who talk and act with so much hate and nastiness?

Lewis hypothesized that perhaps these hate-mongering Christians would be even worse if not for their faith in god, “Perhaps these Christians would be dictators, fascists, murderers, and psychopaths if not for the fact that they are a Christian; perhaps we should be thankful to god that they are only gossips and slanderers, perhaps by being a Christian it has prevented them from being as bad as they really could be” [my paraphrase of Lewis]

Of course, such a theory seems kind of sad; should I really be thankful that my fellow Christian is ‘only’ guilty of being a nasty gossip….and that they have never murdered anyone? Is that really something I should sing praises to god about; “halleluiah, my fellow Christians would have been murderers if not for getting saved….now they are only miserable nasty people…and they aren’t very fun to be around either…but praise god they aren’t dictators or psychopaths!” …..REALLY???

For Lewis, who was an atheist as a young adult, the most difficult part of him coming to a belief in God was reconciling his problem with Christians; “for the most part Christians aren’t the nicest people” he would say

Even in my own life, I have found that many of my closest friends throughout my life have been agnostics and people of other religions because they often tend to be a little bit less intense and more accepting of people with different beliefs and opinions. My fellow Christians tend to get too wrapped up into rules and regulations…..as though our Christian walk is supposed to be all about arguing over what color to paint the bedroom.

This past week on my blog I had to listen to a reader lambaste one of my Catholic readers; calling her faith “heretical” and “blasphemous”; the Protestant reader typified the normal nasty-rhetoric that so many of my fellow Christians let loose from their lips so callously. Instead of trying to have a positive discussion about the subject at hand; the Protestant Christian began their diatribe with the normal insults and nastiness that so much of the Western World has become accustomed to when dealing with fundamentalist branches of Christianity.

Not ALL Christians are nasty. Let’s get that out of the way…..but let’s also be honest; how much solace was it to the African American women of the 19th century who were raped, sold into slavery and had their children ripped out of their arms to be told, “Well, not ALL white men support slavery”. Do you think that made those women feel better at night as they lay there being raped by the slaveholder and wondering if her children were alive?

Sadly, it is the bad apples which tend to stand out the most.

For now, I really need another cup of coffee

Kenneth

If you haven’t heard I’m currently on a national tour of 100 coffee houses and I would LOVE to have coffee with you! Check out my homepage for dates and locations.



Categories: Religion

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89 replies

  1. “the type that if you don’t believe things ‘their way’…then you might as well go choke a chicken” Oh my.

  2. Can’t deny that the things you describe have happened, and will happen, along with many other good things. But the main thing is, personally, I would be lost without Jesus.

  3. I have found that focusing on the love of God and sharing my testimony have led more people to believe in Him more than any lambasting, fire and brimstone speech ever could. I even have a friend who was atheist until she met me on Facebook…just talking about my faith has made her believe. I wish more Christians would focus on sharing God’s love than man’s rules. sigh…more tea for me. Great post as always Kenneth! 🙂

  4. After following your blog for a while now, Kenneth, I’ve come to a conclusion.

    (and this is nothing against you, personally, or you own religious beliefs, but…..).

    You’ve almost convinced me that people become Christians and attend Church because THEY need saving. Perhaps God draws them into the church because they have become a little too dogmatic and have lost their way in life.

    This young reformed drug & alcohol addict no longer needs saving, so his family no longer feel they have to intervene in his life and try to reform him. He shouldn’t feel hurt and bewildered by their current absence – because he is now free to follow a clear, pure and rewarding path on his own. I wish him and all others who have turned their life around, a happy and blessed future.

    Sometimes I think religion and politics are the bane of the Western World.

    • That’s EXACTLY why people need Jesus and go to church. We are all imperfect and need saving.

    • Sorry David, I disagree.

      I believe each and every person has the right to follow the religion of their choice. They can follow Allah, Jesus, whoever they like. People should be free to follow what they believe in (as long as its not hurtful or damaging to their fellow man).

      Many people are very spiritual and follow a life of loving kindness and give freely of their time and energy to others. People don’t necessarily have to go to a church to be compassionate, loving and kind. Some people follow the Bible and Jesus. Some follow other Gods or Spiritual Traditions.

      People don’t necessarily need Jesus – they need Faith.

      They need to respect others.

      There’s a difference.

      I’m not sure that the word ‘Saving’ is correct. We are all imperfect, so we need to recognise this and until we can recognise our own imperfections, then we cannot go about improving or overcoming them.

      I’ve listed the top religions straight off the internet below:
      What right have any of us to infringe and/or degrade any one else’s religion. There is no right or wrong religion.

      There are only good or bad people. It’s very important to make this distinction. And……there are some basically good people who are weak and fall prey to peer pressure.

      They are some bad people in this world who would do anything to protect their family, so in essence, even the very worst of us can have merit.

      Christianity: 2.1 billion
      Islam: 1.5 billion
      Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
      Hinduism: 900 million
      Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
      Buddhism: 376 million
      primal-indigenous: 300 million
      African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
      Sikhism: 23 million
      Juche: 19 million
      Spiritism: 15 million
      Judaism: 14 million
      Baha’i: 7 million
      Jainism: 4.2 million
      Shinto: 4 million
      Cao Dai: 4 million
      Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
      Tenrikyo: 2 million
      Neo-Paganism: 1 million
      Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
      Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
      Scientology: 500 thousand

    • You disagree with me. Then you say you have no right to degrade my beliefs, or that they are right are wrong. Yes by saying that you’re inferring that by beliefs are inferior and wrong.

      So I respect that you believe that, although I emphatically disagree with you, but you’re saying isn’t very self consistent.

    • Perhaps I worded it badly, David. It’s so easy to misinterpret the written word (as opposed to face-to-face conversation with hand & facial expressions, high or low tone, joy or anger).

      I thought you were saying that people, HAVE to go to a church, i.e. HAVE to be Christian.

      I was saying that people can go to church or not. They can go to a synagogue or not. They can sit in the woods and meditate (or not).

      My original comment meant that maybe, the type of people who DO go to a church, NEED to go to a church (in order to be ‘saved’ or ‘altered for the better’ or understand ‘right from wrong OR whatever. Maybe their understanding of their God demands their attendance in a church structure).

      Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

    • Well in that case, no, I don’t think an institutionalised church is necessary, at all. It’s not about a formal meeting ceremony or style of church structure, it’s about Jesus, and about believers gathered together in relationships (churcch = people, not building or organisation). I myself confess having trouble with institutionalised church at times and the believers it tends t breed, as opposed to less formal structues, but that’s me. Some people need structure, I need relationships.

    • Vickie, I think there are a lot of reasons people become Christians;

      –) some people become Christian because they feel lonely and want to be apart of something
      –) some people become Christian because they have children and want to take them Sunday school
      –) some people become Christian because of actual beliefs in god, eternality, etc…
      –) and some people become Christians because as you said, “they need saving”… I know one person who’s life was spiraling out of control and becoming a Christian for him helped to stabilize his life.

      For me, because I feel so strongly that Jesus set an example of being a Christian as loving the people at the bottom of society, I take it personally when I see so many of my fellow Christians who spend next to no time reaching out to people in need, and instead they spend too much of their time being miserable people 😦

    • I read an interview once with Christopher Isherwood. There is no online source.
      The concept is that you are drawn to a religion by the people you meet in that religion. The beliefs are more or less irrelevant. Religion is about people, not beliefs.
      A corollary notion is that if someone can attract you to a religion, then they can also drive you away from it. This is a big deal in jesus worship, with it’s intense interest in recruiting new followers.
      As to the matter of where you fit in if you have decided, after repeated exposure and painful contemplation, that you don’t agree with these beliefs …. I don’t have all the answers.

    • “the concept is that you are drawn to a religion by the people you meet in that religion”

      Chamblee, right. I wrote numerous essay’s on the subject during my psychology course work in college; perhaps that is why even in the bible there are verses such as you, “you shall know them by their love one for another” and so when Christians aren’t demonstrating very much love, well, it definitely turns people off from it altogether.

    • I feel sad when you talk about fellow Christians being miserable people and their lack of reaching out to people in need. It makes me even less interested in formal religion, than when I left it at around 45 years ago.

      My 2 SILs are both Catholic (even though my brothers are not) and they have to be 2 of the most loving, caring, compassionate people I’ve ever met.

      They are religious ladies of the very best kind and WOULD do, (and DO), anything to help others,

      I do so wish other so-called Christians could be like them.

  5. What are you doing, asked my dear.
    Reading the …Really post about a young man and his dealings with people. His sisters and …..

    Next thing I knew my dear was crying. People can be so disappointing and mean. She knows from firsthand. Her past two years dealing with types like that is confusing and exhausting.

    People choose to believe what they want. The mantle of those beliefs can be politics, gay rights, civil rights, religion, climate change, … you fill in your own. Often they choose ugly and vile things to believe about others in order to tear them down. That way they justify things missing in themselves that would raise them up and make them more generous, accepting, and loving.

    I am so thankful for the majority of people who choose NOT to go that path. They are true to the teachings of their religion.

    • “the mantle of those beliefs can be politics, gay rights…”

      Agreed; its not merely limited to religion and Christianity; the problem abounds in many areas of life

  6. “Kenneth, do you think that Christians like my parents and sisters want people to fail? Do you think they want people to be worse than them so it helps them feel better about themselves”
    We westerners do do that a lot don’t we and not just the Christians.

    Kicking people down in the dirt to feel better yourself should be stopped.
    Great piece. and to me it only shows that interpretations of the Bible might be at flaw. Not at fault as that would suggest one way is the only way. Not that I know how and what and when.

    Cheers on the coffee.

    • A lot of my fellow Christians believe they have a stranglehold on the “right” way to interpret the bible, yet they seem to ignore the fact that millions of Christians don’t necessarily agrees with their particular integration

    • Definitely. How many times have I heard the quote from one of the epistles of Peter, “there is only one interpretation of Scripture,” and the person quoting just confidently assumes his or her own interpretation must be the one! It’s beyond me. I guess some people don’t have that little voice that I have which says, “What if you’re mistaken?” Nothing wrong with confidence, but so many Christians just won’t admit there’s even a possibility that they’ve got a skewed interpretation.

    • “there is only one interpretation of Scripture,” and the person quoting just confidently assumes his or her own interpretation must be the one! It’s beyond me.”

      Goulart, right, we are on the same page; I’m the type of Christian that wants to have dialogue with both Christians and non-Christians and if I start with the whole “I am right and you are wrong” mentality than I’ve effectively squelched any positive dialogue before it begins.

    • Not just westerners. People in general.

  7. great post – I like the somewhat humorous approach to viewing these types of Christians – giggle. More coffee, please.

  8. Kenneth, thank you for telling your friend’s story. He is very fortunate to have your support. People give Christianity a bad name, not God (as you know). Back in my 20s, I had a relative pray that I would become a Born-Again Christian. I guess God didn’t answer her prayer, because now I seek to put Love first in all of my relationships. I fall short, but God loves me anyway, just as He loves everyone else. If someone doesn’t believe in God or is unsure; I respect that. I like to have civil discourse and hear the other person’s point of view. We are all so hard on each other. This world needs kindness, patience, acceptance and above all Love. Finishing my Santa Barbara early morning coffee now…

    • Cate,

      Gosh, some of what you wrote takes me back to my childhood and my misguided fellow evangelical Christians who were so obsessed with terms like ‘born again’ and simply missed the whole message of the bible altogether 😦 …i’m glad your relative didn’t turn you off from god in their misguided zeal… seems like you turned out just fine! 🙂

  9. Kenneth, this was a really great piece. I’ve lost loved ones to the black hole of addiction, I’m watching others die now. I have seen others get sober. I can tell you that people who possess the ability to come back to the land of the living after addiction is the kind of folks you want playing on your team in life. It’s sad his family turned their back. My love of Christ is due to him making his crew up of the regular folks and misfits (of his time). Thank you for dropping by Parenting From The Lunatic Fringe . It made my day seeing that you liked my blog.

  10. Not sure what to add here but I am glad that the young man has you to talk to and frankly, Christian or not that family (church and other) has some big issues and if they don’t know how to be at least as supportive/pleasant as one would be to a co-worker then maybe he can find/build a new support system.

  11. All Christians think they are right when in fact they are deluded through fear of the unknown.

  12. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim 2:13). Love that verse. Helped me when I was really struggling with seeing hypocrisy in church. People on pedestals instead of God. People forgetting their need for God and pointing fingers rather than lifting up. Condemnation seems to have opposite effect of what those sisters desired. Grace and knowledge of the fact that all of us are sinners in need of grace (whether it’s manifest in outward addictions or inward pride that alienates), have no room to point fingers. Jesus wasn’t too keen on the hypocrisy of pointing fingers either 🙂 I kind of had a bit of a rant on this issue a while back..here’s the link.

    http://soletusknow.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/the-these-and-the-those/

    As always, thanks for sharing, Kenneth. Your posts get the mind and heart dealing and addressing things that are so good to think about!

    • “Grace and knowledge of the fact that all of us are sinners in need of grace (whether it’s manifest in outward addictions or inward pride that alienates), have no room to point fingers.”

      Very well said!

  13. Hi Kenneth,

    Just because people claim to be Christian, that doesn’t mean they actually are.

    Here’s how Jesus Christ himself said we could tell who are his followers:

    “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

    “Miserable, nasty people” who attack others simply because they “believe the wrong way” do not meet Christ’s own definition of who is a Christian. Christ didn’t define his followers by their beliefs (as important as those are), but by their love and their actions. “By their fruits you will know them,” he said (Matthew 7:15-20).

    Can a person really be a Christian while ignoring and doing the opposite of what Jesus Christ teaches? Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

    I say, let’s call a spade a spade. Whatever these miserable, nasty people may claim to be, they are not Christians.

    • “The problem with pretenders is that they scare people away from the real thing. That seems to be the lament of Kenneth ‘ post.”

      Lee, EXACTLY… that is precisely what I’m getting at 🙂

  14. I have to suggest an alternative to the C.S. Lewis point you bring up about “Perhaps these Christians would be dictators, fascists, murderers, and psychopaths if not for the fact that they are a Christian.”

    I would suggest that without Christianity, perhaps these people would be more authentic in their hate which might allow for easier connection to understanding the trouble of their ways.

    • Jason, wow dude, your last paragraph has given me a lot to ponder

    • I guess that kind of summarizes why I’m not a big fan of the “If you believe in Jesus as Saviour, you are saved” mentality. It seems like it can give some people the impression that as long as they believe in Jesus, they are justified in their nastiness.

    • Jason, I’ve noticed that one of the largest points of contention is what people mean by “believing in Jesus”. You could say that there is a tension between James 2:19 (“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”) and John 3:16 (“…whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”). This tends to create a tension between “works and faith” in some christian traditions.

    • Interesting thought! The Bible sure does not make it easy to keep to a cohesive understanding of everything.

  15. And yet, the apparently inescapable drive to define away co-religionists you don’t like continues in this very thread. Irony abounds.

    • What defines people? Their words? Or their actions?

      If someone says, “I’m a pacifist,” then picks up a gun and kills someone, would you call that person a pacifist?

      If someone says, “I’m a vegetarian,” then sits down and eats a steak, would you call that person a vegetarian?

      If someone says, “I’m a Christian,” then hates others instead of loving them as Christ taught (Matthew 22:39; Luke 6:27-36), would you call that person a Christian?

      Actions speak louder than words.

    • I believe there’s a logical fallacy called “no true Scotsman” involved here.

    • I understand what you’re getting at. The point of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy is that if someone fits the definition of a Scotsman, you can’t claim he isn’t just because he does something you don’t like. I agree with you that we can’t define people as non-Christian just because we don’t like them.

      However, the “no true Scotsman” fallacy doesn’t imply that “Scotsman” cannot be defined at all, nor does it imply that any man should be accepted as a Scotsman simply because he claims to be one. Rather, it points out that a man is a Scotsman if he fits the definition of a Scotsman–“a man born, raised, or living in Scotland”–regardless of other characteristics or actions of the man that fall outside of that definition.

      It’s true that many so-called Christians define away other Christians based on arbitrary definitions of what a Christian is, or simply because they don’t like them. But the existence of many false definitions of “Christian” does not mean that there’s no definition at all, nor does it mean that we must accept anyone and everyone as “Christian” simply because they claim to be.

      Jesus Christ did define quite clearly what it means to be a Christian. Do you really think that those who reject his definition, and live in a way that is the opposite of what he taught, should be accepted as Christians simply because they claim to be?

    • If you follow the teachings of Jesus, you can legitimately call yourself his follower, but as soon as you call yourself a Christian, you’re identifying yourself as a member of a group, for which there is no evidence whatever in the New Testament. It is a diverse and often divisive group, each sect of which claims to have the true meaning of a book written decades after Jesus lived, and each of which thinks the other sects are in error to one degree or another. Why not just follow the teachings of Jesus, as nearly as you can understand them, and forget about who’s a true Christian or not? What is the point of membership, if you constantly have to weed out undesirables?

    • Understood. But if a whole raft of human organizations hijack the name of Christ without actually believing in or following his teachings, do we really have to legitimize the claims of these hijackers? I’m perfectly comfortable agreeing with Emanuel Swedenborg that the Christian Church as it has existed historically is Christian in name only, and not in reality or in essence. Why continue to call something Christian when it really isn’t Christian?

    • And yet, wouldn’t each of these pretenders claim the same? At what point does it become a meaningless exercise? And what is the goal of defining Christianity anyway?

    • The fallacy is in thinking that Christianity is a human organization, or can be defined by any human organization.

    • Um, it is. No point arguing that, I suppose. Nice chat.

    • The problem with pretenders is that they scare people away from the real thing. That seems to be the lament of Kenneth ‘ post.

    • The point is, with competing people claiming to be the real thing, there is no real thing from a point of view outside of it. Of course, you will say you’re the real thing, just ignore everyone else; it’s what everyone says, and they all have chapter and verse to prove it..

  16. I so agree with Lee, just because someone claims to be a Christian does not make one a Christian. I left organized religion years ago. I just couldn’t take the hypocrisy that surrounded me. I’m not sure what I would call myself now…I just try to do the best I can each day; loving and caring for each person with whom I come into contact. I hope for the same in return. Sometimes I am able to fulfill my part and sometimes others are able to also. Let those without sin cast the first stone…

    • Praw, sadly a lot of people leave Christianity because of hypocrisy and it really breaks my heart because its just a broken record that goes on and on and the church does so little to fix it.

  17. Let’s follow C. S. Lewis’ thought from beginning to end.
    – No one is born a Christian.
    – Ordinary people become Christians.
    – Ordinary people who have become Christians behave better than they would behave if they had never become Christians.
    – Christians behave better than non-Christians.

    What we believe makes a difference in our lives. Thus, faith in Jesus makes Christians behave with more love towards God and their fellow men. What we believe, however, does not suddenly transform us so that we are no longer human beings.

    Does this 20-something young man’s parents and siblings want him to fail? I doubt it. I suspect he just wants something from them they either don’t know how to give or don’t want to give him. Because each of us is finite, we can only give so much. So he expresses his frustration.

    We easily forget that our view of this world is not automatically shared by others. We forget that we are not at the center of things. That position belongs to God alone. Therefore, if your young friend has overcome his addictions, he needs to thank God and get on with life. Each of us must seek what God has called us to do and strive to obey Him. What we give to others is what leads to satisfaction in this life. Giving love — not just receiving it — is how we prepare ourselves to be citizens of heaven, that place where we will know we have finally come home.

  18. it’s not Christians, it’s just that particular person. Christians are still individuals with big flaws.

  19. Whether it be christians or not, we as humans have behaviors that are engrained in us since childhood. We are products of our environment. What possibly lead Lewis to drugs and alcohol (and I can relate to part of this by the way) is an issue the family members have to work on themselves. The family not knowing what to do with Lewis now that he is healthy is most likely because of deep psychologies engrained in them. God and Jesus have not changed. They are there always. Lewis, if you’re reading…your family, just like mine, probably need help looking into their issues (like that’s gonna happen). God is now challenging you to stay the course. YOUR course. Not your family’s or anyone else’s.

  20. What I find fascinating about human beings is it’s capacity to create a custom made reality. Once truth is filtered through a person’s history and emotional make-up, what is produced is some version of that original truth-sometimes a version that is colorful and rich and provocative, other times dark and ominous and ugly. With that said, the unpleasant behaviors that manifest from some people are simply a product of their own filters. In other words, they, themselves are troubled and may not even be aware of it. One can only pity the limitations that these people give themselves to live life fully, especially since we are here for a very short time.

  21. I often wonder if people put their own spin on things like religion because it is in our very nature to transform, not conform. Just as I like to change set recipes by an ingredient or two to make the outcome feel like it truly belongs to me, perhaps other people pick and choose what they wish from the Bible so they can feel like they “own” their religious beliefs. Most people do not like to feel like they do not have control, being told they HAVE TO love everyone would cause their sub-conscious mind to feel like they are being made a slave to someone else’s wishes. As a result they reject that idea without even realizing it and instead spew hate in an effort to assert their control and feel safe again. Jesus could fully believe that loving others and offering help to all was a fantastic way to go about life because he came to that decision on his own, therefor could embrace it wholeheartedly. Many of his early disciples were benefactors of his kindness and as such decided that it was a pretty amazing way to live life, that it made them feel good to help others and they chose to adopt his way of life as their own. Problem is, if they then went out and just told others how great the lifestyle was and spent more time talking than helping the chance that their message would be received well, or correctly, dwindled. When the wave of forced Christianity swept the world, it probably did more harm than good for the religion. People don’t like being forced into something. If you grow up being told to do something it is natural that at least a part of you will reject it, but if you come to it on your own you will adopt it with an open mind and an open heart. Just like with every written/spoken message, it can and will be misinterpreted by people with skewed vision. The messages that communicate the best are the ones that are shown, not told.

  22. See, I think people should be more accepting of others’ faiths. In this day and age with the intermixing of society issues of faith really ought to fade into the background if we are going to deal with the issues that they tend to obscure: poor politics, corrupt governments, corporate greed . . . in fact I have shared Lewis’ dilemma so long that I have become convinced that unless religions are reframed in a modern context there can be no such thing as world peace.

    There’s a local community and a global community for everyone, but so many seem to still have this “not in my backyard” mentality; the community of mankind is ready for prime time, but the loudest voices of the general public make it seem as though they aren’t ready to be a part of that.

    I dwell on this subject so often that I have become a non-religious Sun worshiper. I totally respect anyone regardless of their religion, as long as they comport themselves in dignity and kindness.

  23. I do think family members, even those of faith but not “fanatical,” can and do wish you to fail. I’ve experienced it. It seems obvious to me that it stems from insecurity in themselves; it’s painful, nevertheless, but when you remind yourself of where it’s most likely coming from, forgiveness (and pity, sometimes) becomes easier. Of course, it took most of my life to figure this out. My mom and step-mother, especially, the former of whom I love very much, have sent out these “please fail” vibes, sometimes subtle, other times blatantly.

    I remain agnostic because #1, I don’t know. At the same time, I’m reminded of the film about concentration camp inmates (or survivors, I can’t remember off hand) putting God on trial when I think about the possibility of this god making its presence, existence, known and without doubt. Would I instantly pledge allegiance, faith to this god just because it’s proven its existence? Hell, no. In fact, I might start a petition to charge it with crimes against humanity and have it face judge and jury (the irony is not lost on me).

    It’s been my experience that most Christians are that in name only. Yes, most of my favorite humans are Christians or have faith in a higher being; do they judge, preach, hate, condemn, whine of persecution (don’t get me started on that), believe in Adam and Eve, the Ark, parting of the Red Sea, but call me extreme for being a vegan, shun (if there is evil, it’s in the act of shunning), etc.? No. They are simply good people who do good every day, not because a book tells them so but because they are compassionate, peace-loving, empathetic individuals who see pain and suffering and want to end it.

  24. Having been bludgeoned with the Christian bat myself in my family I appreciate the young man’s thoughts and your take on it. I didn’t have the issues of the young man but sometimes think my family would prefer it if I did, then they really would have something to beat me up for. I think there is no real explanation for this behavior and maybe C.S.Lewis is right. I have never been able to figure out my own family’s brand of Christianity but fortunately have met many others without that mindset. I have come to the conclusion that I will never understand it and can’t change it. So I move on. Not always easy but healthier for me. I hope the same for this young man.

  25. There are shitty people everywhere.

  26. “My young coffee friend has all but rejected any belief in god, “Why would I want to believe in a god that produces people who act like my sisters?” he has said to me on numerous occasions. It’s the type of question famous Christian philosophers like C.S. Lewis and little guys like myself have pondered as well; how can I remain faithful in my Christianity in the face of so many Christians who talk and act with so much hate and nastiness?”

    This is exactly what pushes me further away each day from the God of most Christians. There are some who call themselves Christians and yet talk about a God who is nicer than the traditional one supported by the Bible. Joshua Tongol is a good example of that.

    For me personally, I think that a God that is worth trusting would help me and give me the time I need to understand it. So far, I have not found anything that meets that description.

  27. Reblogged this on Irrelevant Thoughts of Chandler and commented:
    Another post that is so good I had to share it.

  28. I could repeat many stories of Christian family members who question how you could have morals if you believed differently from them. I don’t understand how people can be so blind. By far, the kindest, most caring people I have met have been those with no religious belief or those with very vague ideas of spirituality.

    • “by far, the kindest, most caring people I have met have been those with no religious belief or those with very vague ideas of spirituality”

      I wish I could disagree with you… but sadly, I’ve experienced the same thing as you. Not that I’m saying its sad that ‘non-spiritual’ people are so kind… but that its sad that too often the spiritual people aren’t AS kind…. 😦

  29. so much truth in this! we currently have this issue in our extended family…they call Christian and yet are so judgmental and unaccepting…and we are currently not attending church as too many western churches are just about the business and that is not what Bible says Christianity should be…the bad apples do stand out and it’s so frustrating to see…they drive people in the opposite direction! Thank you for sharing, and visiting my blog as well, I enjoy reading yours!

  30. I’m a firm believer that religion and its religious followers are missing the point. When will everyone realize that we’re all broken, all sinners, and all in need of love? My biggest problem with the whole topic is the idea that there is some sort of ranking on sin. Mine worse than his, his not as bad as Joes…ya know.

    Glad he has someone like you.

  31. I have been wrestling with my lost faith a lot lately so this post is timely for me. I, too, grew up in an evangelical Christian family – there was lots of love and lots of praying and lots of discipline and lots of guilt I guess. I am now trying to re-enter my long-lost faith and this is the kind of post that helps me to do so with my brain as well as my aching heart – thank you!

  32. I am agnostic/ atheist. In a sense, I believe that if God exists, then he/she/it exists in nature, in the spirit of nature. We lost this simplicity as we brought ritual into our life. Ritual was meant to bring you into the spirit of the experience. Somewhere down the way, the practice of ritual overtook the experience.

  33. Religion and politics – 2 subjects that always stir, irk, and rile.

  34. Most Christians don’t consider the philosophy of their beliefs to know what to do with someone they don’t have a label for. In regards to your friend, they have plenty of pre-ordained language to throw at the dirty sinner, but not much for the moral wanderer. I’ll be exploring a lot of topics of faith on my blog in the coming months. Here’s a taste. What If Jesus Failed? http://observationsofasuburbanwhitemale.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/what-if-jesus-failed/

  35. I’m a Catholic Christian but I have to say that I’ve been guilty of being like the Christian Fundamentalist sister in few occasions. I hope it was only few.

    When seeing and hearing about Christians behaving badly, I have to remind myself that God’s grace is stronger than their sins. Just look at David, Peter, and other people in the Bible who had strayed away from God’s Path for a while and came back again.

    I think those Christians who are so hung up on the rules are suffering miserably, too because they’re pressured to be perfect all the time. We forget that we’re only humans who are always sinning. We forget that God has extreme mercy.

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