Sunday, July 6, 2008

Do This for the Remembrance of Me

The true dope on salvation is Two weeks in a clinic And a public testimonial You tell them kids Tell them not to hurt themselves Speeding fast from who you were --Mike Doughty, "No Peace, Los Angeles" In a weird way I think I should thank James for his unwelcome intrusion in to my comments a couple weeks ago. My decision to depart from Christianity was a momentary thing that took very little time or conviction once all the pieces fell in to place. But I left angry. I'd spent the last few months casting myself as the rebel, fighting to make changes from within, and been getting nothing but frustrated. When I finally decided to have nothing more to do with Christianity, I left feeling manipulated and prepared to be harassed by those who did not and would not understand. I spent about six months deprogramming myself while keeping my new self more or less secret from all but a select few. When I finally went public, it was with fists clenched, ready to fight a fight I didn't know if I was prepared for. I half expected to get hit with some argument from a friend turned enemy and lose my resolve as all my old patterns of thinking came flooding back in and overwhelmed my newfound sense of freedom. I actually started off my little Loco to Stay Sane project with the idea of taking a pause, a moment for reflection, to say, "Seyla," and to breath. Before I get to what I believe will be the final post of Loco to Stay Sane and move on to what I like to call The Field Guide to North American Evangelists, I think I need to take another moment to say, "Seyla," and reflect. Because, you see, I'm about to break down the Christ story then attempt to pull apart and explain the mentality of the modern day American Christian. It may well not be pretty. It will probably be the sort of thing that looks like an attack, and it may well be all the more harsh since it will be the words of a former insider taking taking apart the things that people he still loves and respects hold dear. It probably won't be pretty. The thing is, though, these aren't going to be words that come from anger or fear. Not any more. And, oddly enough, I have James to thank for that. Because, you see, the attack I was expecting didn't come until he showed up here. I feel that I overreacted a bit, but although I didn't say anything that I particularly regret, I certainly said it more harshly than was absolutely necessary. In the process, though, I learned an important lesson. I really don't have anything to fear. Having spent the better part of twenty-five years learning all the lessons of Christianity and taking its worldview to heart, once I rejected it I could see right through it. I spent a couple of years putting myself through a far more grueling cross-examination. I'd question an assumption, come up with a decent-sounding Biblical argument to support the assumption, then ask myself why the hell I believed what I did. In the months following my departure from church I came up with justifications for Christianity that I'd never thought of and that were way better and more elaborate than the stock answers I'd always gotten. Still, one day I realized that I totally didn't believe it any more. From then on I had no guilt and felt peace, except when I started thinking about what would happen if I was challenged. Then I worried. Now, not so much. Which means that I can let the historian in me stand aside for the moment and give the storyteller in me the floor. Before I take it apart, I feel it's only right to make something clear. I find the Christ story absolutely fascinating and I fully understand why there is a religion built around it. I just tend to believe that, as with most things, once you start building your life around that story and creating institutions dedicated to spreading it, you totally lose focus. See, it struck me one day as I was sitting in class. I think it was Modern Religious Thought, for the record. I was still trying to hold my faith together. At the same time I was reading Joseph Campbell and Martin Buber. All of the sudden I realized exactly why the Christian story was the universal story, although at the time I didn't have the words to describe it. I drew a diagram in my notebook, which isn't exactly a normal thing for me to do. I drew the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in one corner and the cross in the opposite corner. I set each of these as a World Navel, the place where the universe revolves around the actions of the mythological hero. The tree in the garden was the place of separation, the cross the place of salvation. Or, to put it in Buber's terms, the tree was the place where the I and Thou was severed, the cross the place where it was rebuilt. Looking back on it now, I realize that at the time I was basically just building a fairly sophisticated bridge diagram. For those who don't know, the bridge diagram is a thing a would-be evangelist carries around that's just a bunch of pictures of how sin creates a chasm between us and god but Jesus' sacrifice bridges that chasm. And it's kind of sad, but those who are prone to use the bridge diagram are also prone to act like it's really profound, yet I just explained everything you need to know about it in a not particularly complicated sentence. However, underneath the thin veneer of the bridge diagram connection, there may well be something deeply profound to my dual-pole World Navel diagram. You just need to strip away the centuries of extra structure and assumption built on top of the original story to get at it. And you need to realize that, at its core, religion is a fundamentally selfish endeavor. I don't mean selfish in the sense of televangelists trying to convince you to trust god enough to send a check for a thousand dollars to the TV station. I mean selfish in the way that religion is, at its core, an attempt to use god to explain why humans are the way they are. It's that place where I heard Mike Doughty's "No Peace, Los Angeles" for the first time a few days ago and I haven't been able to stop listening to it. The quote with which I started this post encapsulates everything I've come to understand about salvation over the last couple years better than any dozen posts I've written about who I was and who I want to be. From the moment we're born until the moment we die, to borrow a line from Roger Clyne, "Even in the very best company we're always alone." We're all separated, alone, trapped within our skin. We seek the divine, the transcendent, the I and Thou which will allow us to break these bonds we feel so acutely and become something different, something better. This is where religion comes in. It promises a connection to something greater, a higher power. It promises salvation. But the thing that's hardest to wrap the mind around is that one, all-important question: why? Oh, sure, we're told that it's because god made us and god loves us, but that brings up all kinds of other questions, like, "So why is god so willing to send us to hell?" So we get theological and philosophical constructs, like the question of theodicy and a bunch of stuff about how god is both infinitely just and infinitely graceful, so even though god really doesn't want us to go to hell, god's hands are kind of tied and it all sounds just a little bit stupid unless you're the sort who has invested a hell of a lot of time and effort in to being part of that world. So let's pull back. Take away two thousand years of Christian history. Take away the Council of Nicea, take away the Apostle's Creed, take away Paul of Tarsus and Simon Peter and John of Patmos. Take away John the Baptist. Take away Jesus of Nazareth. Take away everything but that story. Go back to that diagram with the two poles located on the World Navel, the one where we lose everything and the one where we get it back. That, right there, is the universal story. It's every dragon and witch, every knight and princess, every "...and they lived happily ever after," rolled up in to one. It's what we're all looking for but know we probably will never find. It's also the place where Christianity got screwed up right from the beginning. Because salvation is about "speeding fast from who you were," as Mike Doughty says. But it's not about becoming something other than human, it's about becoming fully and completely who you are and who you want to be. It's why this is a public testimonial. It's the story of me, and how I am trying to become myself. The fact of the matter is that there is no church that can tell me how to be me. Church can only tell me how I don't measure up to what it thinks I should be. It's why I'm not a Christian, but still rather like the Christ story. The story, like all good myth and fairy tale, lets me know something about who I am and the challenges I face. It's a good story. It's a worthwhile story. It's a true story, too. It's just that it's not so much true in the sense that a couple thousand years of tradition want us to believe it's true. It's true in that it's my story of separation and isolation and desire to join with something greater than myself. I don't think we understand what Jesus was trying to say, assuming we have anything even remotely resembling an accurate account of his words (more on that later, like when I deconstruct this puppy from a historical standpoint). I don't think we ever will, and the farther removed we are from Roman Age Israel the less we'll be able to understand. However, I have a hard time believing that Jesus would have approved of the greed, hatred, isolationism, and snobbish air of superiority that pervades so much of the religion that bears his name. This was a man who was filled with compassion for the outsider, the downtrodden,the weary, the sick, the wounded. This was a man who once had an adulterous woman dragged to him by a mob wanting him to condemn her and somehow convicted the mob of its own transgressions before saying, "If no one stands to condemn you, then neither do I." And yet the followers of that man are quick to condemn. I know, because I've been condemned to hell a couple of times since I left the church. A friend of mine who left at about the same time I did has at least one similar story. This, ultimately, is why I'm not a Christian. I don't think there's anybody out there who has a freaking clue what that even means. I count myself among them. I'm just more open about it than I used to be, even if only to myself.

21 comments:

James said...

Bring it on...

Is this something that you're willing to debate/discuss? Or is it just you talking?

If you're up for discussing this I would like to ask you to first check your presups on salvation. Seems to me like you thoughts on salvation (why you hate it) is because you see salvation like Joel Osteen. That, however is not biblical salvation.

So, if you're up for discussing this, appropriately, I'd like to talk about biblical salvation with you...

Fiat Lex said...

Me, the slowpoke, beat the rest of the peanut gallery here? Cha-ching.

Why are you not writing novels, young man? Or if you are, why are you hiding them from us except for the few lovely stories you've got posted up on Just Behind? I approve of your historian voice, but I like your storytelling voice much better. You have the power to move, and know how to use it!

Fiat Lex said...

Dangit. I didn't beat the peanut gallery after all! I'd attempted and then discarded several lengthy addenda and then realized that what I have to say on the topic would be better put elsewhere. I love the part of the story with the "bridge" diagram. It's a curious sort of illumination that looks at first glance like an inversion. A truth turned on its head to reveal a deeper truth. I've had analogous (though usually less life-upheaving) experiences, my most-quoted one being, "Has it set you free? Then what makes you think it is the truth?"

Wait, James. Where did he say that he hated salvation? I didn't catch that either in the lines or between them!

James said...

Yeah,sorry Fiat, I knew as I was writting that that it would be harder to explain in text than it would be with body language and tone of voice.

Let me try to clarify:

Brian said:

"...religion is a fundamentally selfish endeavor.

I don't mean selfish in the sense of televangelists trying to convince you to trust god enough to send a check for a thousand dollars to the TV station. I mean selfish in the way that religion is, at its core, an attempt to use god to explain why humans are the way they are."

This statement, tied with Brian's general nausea with "American Christians" tells me that he thinks salvation is self-centered, which is a false belief. Or that he thinks that "American Christians" think that salvation is self-centered. Either way, I think Brian shares a misconception of what biblical salvation.

Does this make sense?

Geds said...

Hey, look, James is back!

Now, I have nothing against "discussing" this topic with you, but your seemingly intentional lack of reading comprehension kind of gets in the way of any fruitful discussion. See, allow me to explain (my words in bold, yours in italics, for the record).

"...religion is a fundamentally selfish endeavor.

I don't mean selfish in the sense of televangelists trying to convince you to trust god enough to send a check for a thousand dollars to the TV station. I mean selfish in the way that religion is, at its core, an attempt to use god to explain why humans are the way they are."


This statement, tied with Brian's general nausea with "American Christians" tells me that he thinks salvation is self-centered, which is a false belief. Or that he thinks that "American Christians" think that salvation is self-centered. Either way, I think Brian shares a misconception of what biblical salvation.

I was actually under the impression that I was making myself crystal clear the first time around, but apparently I have to spell everything out in far greater detail or risk turning myself in to an oil-soaked straw man ready made to be lit by that match in your hand. Because, see, my comment that you quoted there wasn't driven by a "nausea" towards "American Christians" or any specific dislike towards religion.

For when I say that "religion is a fundamentally selfish endeavor," I mean that ALL religion is a fundamentally selfish endeavor. This is not a knock against religion, as should be evidenced by the phrase "religion is, at its core, an attempt to use god to explain why humans are the way they are." It's simply a way of saying that religion is an extension of the narrative, the story we tell ourselves to explain how we are the way we are. That works in the individual sense of selfishness and the corporate sense of selfishness and cuts across all lines of religion.

The shift from the very anthropomorphic (and "very anthropomorphic" is a phrase I use specifically, for the record, to indicate that the gods were depicted as being like us, but even more so in that they had exaggerated characteristics) gods of the ancient pantheons to the less immediately accessible gods we tend to have these days has obscured that fact, but it still remains. For, what is the concept of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit if not a primarily selfish way of looking at god? What is the concept in Christianity (sans Catholicism, which I seem to like more and more in theory if not practice) that god will hear the prayers of each individual practitioner if not a primarily selfish way of looking at approaching god? What is, "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?" if not a fundamentally selfish question?

Oh, and I'd love to tell you how funny it is that you compared me to Joel Osteen, but, frankly, I haven't the time or the inclination to make a whole post about this.

Fiat:

In my defense, you of all people should know how hard it is to get published...

Oh, and I'm kind of hoping that the storytelling thing helps me to create a, shall we say, smoother writing style. I find the discipline of sticking to the primary narrative and trying to create pictures using an economy of words to be massively helpful.

James said...

Wow dude, you can't write a single sentence without being a condescending (biting my tongue).

If you're willing to discuss/ debate this I hope you'll find a way to park the "your reading comprehension sucks" line.

While you have your finger on the pulse of the selfishness of "American Christianity" it misses the mark of Biblical Christianity. The point of Biblical Christianity is not selfishness but inherent UN-selfishness. Read Philippians 2.

My comment about Osteen was not comparing him to you (reading comprehension dude; sorry couldn't resist). But that, he, like "American Christianity" believes that Jesus died so that you could be happy. Jesus died for a reason completely different than anyone's happiness! And if that's a true statement than one ought to seriously investigate man's state before a HOLY God. (See "God is the Gospel" by Piper and the first chapter; heck the first sentence of Tozer's "The Knowledge of the Holy").

Further, it's not so much your view of religion, Christianity, history, or salvation, it's much more your very low view of God and high view of man. I would challenge you to investigate God...but more on that another time.

Geds said...

I would challenge you to investigate God...but more on that another time.

Alright, here's the deal there Sparky. Until you acknowledge the fact that I spent the FIRST TWENTY-FIVE FUCKING YEARS OF MY LIFE in the church and was less than three months from going to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School to get my Masters of Divinity, I'm going to mock your reading comprehension all I want.

That's the deal. Take it or leave it.

Fiat Lex said...

Re: Religion and selfishness

W00t! Debate tyme!

I'd like to go back to a different point in the original post. As I read it, the selfishness quote was part of a larger argument, which comes to a point here:

Take away two thousand years of Christian history. Take away the Council of Nicea, take away the Apostle's Creed, take away Paul of Tarsus and Simon Peter and John of Patmos. Take away John the Baptist. Take away Jesus of Nazareth. Take away everything but that story. Go back to that diagram with the two poles located on the World Navel, the one where we lose everything and the one where we get it back.

That, right there, is the universal story.


These thoughts all lead to the assertion that salvation is bigger than Christianity. That the story of Christ, leaving its veracity or otherwise entirely outside the argument, is one piece of a much larger pattern.

And it is humanity's desire to seek out patterns in the world of our experience which is, in a sense, selfish. In considering how we will go about meeting more transitory desires (the desire for food or shelter, say) we come to ask the more general question, why? Why should I not choose to harm my neighbors instead of helping them? Why should I not plan for my own comfort and safety and let others tend to their own needs?

The next step in one of those internal debates, one of those conversations with oneself, is always a story. Let's say I imagine a series of scenes in which I choose certain actions. I would then imagine their consequences in another series of scenes, based on what I already believe about the people and things involved. Or I might take a more abstract route, and think only about certain patterns or structural elements in my choices and the events that follow from them. Based upon what I imagine (which in turn is based on what I believe to be true), I will choose one course of action over another.

This little dance goes on in every person's head, thousands of times a day, hundreds of times an hour. I'm not making that assertion as a scientific fact, only a philosophical one. Observe yourself and see if it is true!

In order to take any meaningful action, in order to make any decision which holds weight or significance, people must approach the decision-making process by the use of story, of imagined action.

Which is why I would concur with Geds that the impulse which leads people towards religion is a selfish one. We desire to possess a story that is a complete mirror of the universe. To have at our mental fingertips a story so nuanced and so vast that we never miss a beat in the dance. No matter the situation with which we are confronted, the ultimate story will enable us to grasp its nature instantly, and to find the best possible choices we can make with ease and grace.

The search for religion, viewed in this way, is a quest for the ultimate story.

One more Geds quote:

We're all separated, alone, trapped within our skin. We seek the divine, the transcendent, the I and Thou which will allow us to break these bonds we feel so acutely and become something different, something better. This is where religion comes in. It promises a connection to something greater, a higher power. It promises salvation.

Salvation, if I can oversimplify the above points grossly, is the end of loneliness. The desire to be saved is the opposite of selfishness. It is the willingness to cast one's shame and pride and doubt aside and surrender to communion with another.

If you're up for discussing this I would like to ask you to first check your presups on salvation. Seems to me like you thoughts on salvation (why you hate it) is because you see salvation like Joel Osteen. That, however is not biblical salvation.

If my above description is incompatible with your definition of biblical salvation, James, lemme know. I'm always happy to redefine terms and start from scratch. :)

However, I think this is the distinction most important to make for the purpose of this discussion. The search for religion is not the same thing as the yearning for salvation. Religion is, to oversimplify again, the sum of the stories we tell ourselves in order to guide the decisions we make. The desire for salvation is the thing that every story is about.

The point of contention between religionists of varying stripes is Whose story is better?. (And by my definition, everybody's got a religion: atheists' just impose strict limits on their mental genres.) Since a person's religion is more a part of their identity than any other thing they possess, it can be difficult or even impossible to discuss religious matters without misunderstanding and recrimination. You just can't politely say to someone, "I'm sorry, I had to leave your religion because it was hindering my salvation." The inevitable response is often, "You must not have been using it right! Here, lemme show ya!"



Re: Writing and publishing

Hey, not getting published don't stop you from sending people sample chapters and junk. Or at least summarizing recent nifty scenes or plotlines.

:D We could always trade. If you listen to me sing, I would listen to you storytell!

...Okay, I'd probably be willing to listen to you storytell anyway. XD I'm a big softie like that.

Have you considered trying to get a story into one of the Ring of Fire anthologies or a Grantville Gazette over at Baen Books? I've seen peeps get into those that were not as good as you. (Though all can spell, and even write a decent scene here and there. They have some standards.)

There are loads more possibilities for short story writers than for first-time novelists, though. I know you can write short stories, I have seen some! As for poetry, well. Let's just say I've decided to focus on songs for the next awhile. You made good choice to stick with prose, young man.

James said...

Oh, nice olive branch.

So, you were a Christian since you were 2 years old? Nice!

Interesting that by that age you could understand and contemplate a Holy God and therefore your state before Him. (See Isaiah 6).

Being born into a Christian family hardly makes you a Christian just as much as being born in a garage would make you a car.

And just because you "almost" went to seminary it hardly makes you a theologian.

If I was even part of the reason that you didn't go to seminary I guess I'd be glad knowing that I helped keep a heretic from getting into ministry.

Anyways, I hate to return your nastiness with my own so I'll just stop here. You obviously can't be civil so is there any point in engaging your lopsided views of Biblical Christianity?

[waiting for Brian to once again turn on comment moderation]

Geds said...

Oy.

So, tell me, James, did you get a driver's license, like, legally? Because I don't know how you could have passed all the traffic signal tests since you can obviously only see the world in black and white.

I'm actually leaving the whole comment moderation off this time. See, now that I've realized I have nothing to fear from you I can just be massively amused by the fact that you seem to think you're helping the Christian cause by being here. I mean, you keep coming in here attempting to sound all conciliatory, but as soon as I don't accept your precepts you're instantaneous response is to condemn me to hell and call me a heretic (although, technically, calling me at 27 a heretic is completely correct. Calling me at 25 a heretic would have been massively incorrect. But, then again, you don't actually know a thing about me and don't seem to be interested in anything other than your straw man version of me, so how would you know that?).

Oh, and your math skills apparently aren't up to snuff. "The first twenty-five years of my life" doesn't mean "I've been a Christian since I was two." That would be "The last twenty-five years of my life."

Just figured I'd throw that in there just in case you ran out of ammunition to belittle me. I mean, at least this way you're attacking me, not imaginary me...

James said...

My motivation on being here has nothing to do with calling you names, or condemning you to hell. I guess it may be somewhat intended at helping the Christian cause though, if that could be understand in the light of Biblical Christianity.

Jude wrote that "while I was eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend earnestly for the faith."

I'm extremely passionate about evangelism and discipleship (neither of which I'm trying to do here), and perhaps even more passionate about apologetics, which I'm clearly doing here.

Yes, I see things very black and white, I believe in absolute truth. I believe that Jesus was telling the truth when He said, I AM the way and the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father but through Him.

Obviously those are things that you don't believe yet instead of leaving it at that you feel the need to do your part in destroying Christianity. And that's fine, I'm not afraid of you either. The gates of Hell will try to bring down the church Jesus said, but they won't prevail. Which reminds me then of who you are.

"We're not sinners because we sin...we sin because we're sinners."

Something more in you needs to change to be different. If you don't want to be that's fine with me. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, unfortunately every opinion isn't equally valid.

Big A said...

What is this "Biblical Christianity" you keep referring to, James? As far as I can tell you're pitching the standard fundamentalist Christian line: absolute truth, Jesus the only way, yadda yadda. Does it make you feel more correct to rename it to something you can define on the fly? This reminds me of the time I read The Purpose-Driven Life and discovered that Rick Warren had demonstrated how someone could make a fortune just be retitling everything in life people are already familiar with with new buzzwords.

I'm furthermore confused on your clearly oxymoronic stand: you make it clear that you're "not afraid" of Geds and then quote that you are "earnestly contending for the faith", why contend when you have nothing to fear? If your particular brand of Christianity is so blatantly correct and you're not afraid of him, why do you allege that Geds is "doing his part in destroying Christianity". You can't have it both ways, either your faith does (and will) conquer all and you have nothing to fear and no reason to be here, or you realize that there are dangerous, faith-shaking flaws in your "Biblical Christianity" that are threatened by Geds sharing his experience. Perhaps the reason you so ardently oppose him is because you've recognized these flaws yourself?

Finally, it takes a pretty presumptuous and arrogant character to make this statement:

"The gates of Hell will try to bring down the church Jesus said, but they won't prevail. Which reminds me then of who you are."

Clearly implying that Geds is a minion of hell because he doesn't like you and the way you do things. I seem to recall Jesus also saying "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." and of course the old biblical adage: "Judge not lest ye be judged." Both making it clear, in your tiny little the Bible-as-literal worldview that you are entirely out of line, as you lack the omniscent qualifications to make such a bold judgement.
Therefore, following your Bible and your "Biblical Christianity", you are a piss-poor example of and for your beloved savior you allegedly represent.

Helping the Christian cause? You might be one of the worst examples I've seen yet.

I CHALLENGE YOU to prove your faith in your God and never proverbially darken these halls again.
However, since I'm a realist, I'll be eagerly expecting your indignant reply.

tilts_at_windmills said...

This may have to do with the conversation about selfishness above, or it may not, I don't really know, but when I got to the part about the Tree of Knowledge in the original post I was caught off guard when it turned out to be a symbol of loss. Intellectually I know that's the orthodox reading of the myth, but I grew up outside the Christian tradition, and to me it's always been a story about finding, not losing.

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit they gained knowledge of good and evil, and their "eyes were opened." They gained conscience and consciousness--through their rebellion, their refusal of perfect unity, they became fully human. The price of that transformation is the birth of evil, because only with a conscience is evil possible, and death, because we alone among living things know that we must die. It's bittersweet, but it's not tragic, at least not if you think the human experience is worth leaving Eden for, and I do.

In that version of the myth the tree could be the discovery of the self, with all the attendant loneliness and wonder, and the cross could be the surrender of self to love and union. And then back, probably, to live the story again in a new way, because I doubt either of those places is one where you can stay.

Anyway, not sure of my point, but I thought it was interesting that the same myth tells such a different story to me and Geds.

James said...

[picking up my pearls in front of the pigs]

Thought about whether or not I should reply since Big A has challenged me to "prove your faith in your God and never proverbially darken these halls again" and figured that if I left no reply you might figure I didn't come back because I was tired of this crap and therefore didn't take on Big A's challenge.

Instead figured I should leave a reply letting you know I'll gladly take up your challenge and gladly let my God use and deal with you as His sovereign hand desires.

If anyone has anything they feel they'd like to let me know, like my reading comp skills or whatever you can email me at xian.sc@gmail.com since I won't be checking back here for any rebuttals.

And with that I bid you adieu (in the fullest sense of the word).

Geds said...

Woohoo! *High fives Big A.*

I think it's absolutely wonderful that as long as it was James and Mrs. James operating against me, they felt they could do so with impunity. But with a little help from my friends...

So thank you, Fiat and Big A. It's nice to not be alone.

tilts_at_windmills:

That is a most excellent interpretation. I know that at various points I've been working around towards the Tree of Knowledge being a benefit, but I don't think that I've ever seen or thought of it in such a clear, concise way.

And, really, it illustrates why I have come to love storytelling. Everyone is allowed to approach the story in their own way and it's the role of the teller to facilitate thinking, not implant thought.

The Everlasting Dave said...

Hey, you should bring that James guy back. Did he have a contract dispute with you or something? Re-sign him dude, he's too important to your franchise. He made this show worth watching even when it wasn't about dirt rock.

Geds said...

I was thinking of offering him a guest commentary slot on the Field Guide to North American Evangelists. I don't think I could do the, "Never, ever listen to anything but what you think the other person is saying and personally condemn them to hell," attitude nearly the justice that he can.

However, just between you, me, and the blogosphere, I'll bet he'll be unable to resist an encore engagement...

The Woeful Budgie said...

I half expected to get hit with some argument from a friend turned enemy and lose my resolve as all my old patterns of thinking came flooding back in and overwhelmed my newfound sense of freedom.

Bam. You've summed up beautifully and concisely why I get so skittish and guarded every Sunday at church.

I had also wondered why, for the past couple years, I found myself unable to join in the worship, even the songs I didn't find objectionable. After all, I still kinda-sorta believed in God, right? Couldn't I just go off of that, and not worry about what it means with regard to the people around me? Then I remember seeing some comment around here---probably by fiat lex, but I'm too lazy to go look it up---about the act of singing in a group setting being sort of a bonding experience that created a sort of collective mentality (she flails about miserably, trying to paraphrase) and THAT'S when it hit me. I was afraid of being sucked back into the hive mind, for lack of a better term, and I was fighting it on levels I wasn't even aware.

I find that I believe in God more when I'm left to myself, and I believe in God less after I've left church on Sunday, and the only thing I can think to make of this is that I don't believe in their God anymore. I don't really like how arrogant that feels---as though MY concept of God is just so different and better and that there aren't these huge patches of overlap, because I'm sure there probably are---but I don't know how else to phrase it, so that will have to do for now.

*****

James: Wow dude, you can't write a single sentence without being a condescending (biting my tongue).

Later James: [picking up my pearls in front of the pigs]

Um. Wow. I was going to make some pot/kettle comment, but I think it speaks for itself.

Geds said...

Um. Wow. I was going to make some pot/kettle comment, but I think it speaks for itself.

So would it make you think less of me if I told you that I was genuinely pissed and wanted him to leave the first time around, but this time I was pretty much just baiting him to see how much hypocrisy I could squeeze out before he left? Because that may or may not have been my strategy...

Suzy-Q said...

Jesus was Jewish. Shhh, don't tell!

If this James character has ever uttered the phrase, "Love the sinner, not the sin" then you should duly ignore him and not respond to his comments ever again. That would leave him more time to pray that the Lord Jesus comes down and touches you heart and heals you and leads you back to the fold.

Geds said...

He was? No!

I figure I've had my fun. If he comes back he'll probably find that there's no "discussion" to be had.