~ As long as I can remember a debate has been raging at every level of Western Society when it comes to authenticity; everyone seems to think they are the true representatives of their particular belief system.
—) Fundamentalist Christians claim to be the true bearers of Christian doctrine
—) Progressive Christians claim to be the true bearers of Christian doctrine
—) Radical fringe groups like ISIS claim to be the bearers of true Islam
—) Non-violent (often Western) Muslims claim to be the bearers of true Islam
—) Peaceful atheists claim to be the embodiment of atheistic principles in action
—) Violent atheists like Stalin, Lenin, or the leader of North Korea claim that via atheistic philosophy they have the right to kill, murder, and torture anyone they desire
The list is virtually endless. At every facet of society we can find two opposing parties who each respectably claim a pigeon hold on “truth” when it comes to their belief system. More often than not these opposing claims are so radically different it is strange to even think that there is a discussion or argument going on.
Since I was raised in the Evangelical Christian community here in the United States I have had a front row seat to the often contentious and always ongoing debate between the progressives and the traditionalists, and the fact that I more often than not find myself in the middle as a moderate on many issues has put me between the crosshairs of some rather deadly venom from both sides of the fight.
In the United States we’re often told we can discuss anything except “politics and religion” as though our goal in life should be to squeak by with as few controversial conversations as possible, and then slowly fade off into the distance as we grow old and eventually die. However, living a life in which we hide from controversy or put off pursuing the truth seems like a rather dire and depressing philosophy. And if you ask me, I would much rather risk an uncomfortable conversation about serious issues as opposed to sitting in the dark and staring at the wall in silence.
I have a number of friends and acquaintances who get upset rather easily, say the wrong thing about a serious issue and you risk offending them. It is a difficult task to talk about serious topics without offending people. Jesus seemed to offend people at every turn even though he was more often than not trying to truly connect with others in a spirit of love.
Perhaps the issue is not whether we offend someone (intentionally or unintentionally) but rather that we make sure we are conveying our love for the other person. Isn’t that what matters most? If we truly love someone else, whether they are a stranger, a fellow blogger, or our best friend, than the majority of things that we say to them should be cloaked in a spirit of love and gentleness, right? I suspect that is what concerns me the most about so much of the arguments I see in real life and on the Internet; instead of gentleness and love, too much of the content is heavily drenched vitriol. Too often liberals and conservatives use sarcasm in a vicious manner, they say things that attack the very core of their opponents in a spirit of nastiness.
Of course, the debate will probably rage on until the end of time; who are the REAL Muslims, who are the REAL Christians, who REALLY represents what it means to live life as an Atheist, who are the REAL humanitarians? Perhaps the reasons the answers escape us is because there is no definitive answer. If the immediate descendants of Jesus, Mohammad, and other leaders were constantly in contention with each other, is it surprising that thousands of years later we are still bickering over these issues?
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society