Saturday, September 08, 2007

A silence borne of censorship?

So I have been in China for the last week (Shanghai) and suffered a surprising amount of withdrawal when I discovered that I couldn't access any of my bookmarked blogs on my favorite topic these days, deconversion.

Which surprises me, frankly, since I would think that an atheist/communist China would enjoy having its people read stories of previously faithful adherents leaving the Christian fold. But perhaps the censorship software, or people, or whoever restricts access to websites in China (I wonder if this is a job people aspire to?), just blocks sites that mention Christianity. Who knows.

Anyway, I haven't had a lot of time lately for contemplating my feckless faith so all I've got for you are a few loose, semi-random thoughts.

Thought 1: China has, what, over 1 billion people, the vast majority of whom do not lose sleep and tears over Jesus. Even with missionaries going there undercover and stuff (I know a couple, used to support them even), I doubt they'll make much of a dent. That's a lot of people for Jesus/God/HS to let go to hell.

Thought 2: For being such a 'godless' place as some Christians I know might put it, what I've seen of China doesn't feel or look godless. You know, people are still people -- some are good, some are bad. It doesn't seem related to knowing Jesus as much as some Christians would like to think.

Thought 3: I went rock climbing in New Hampshire just before I left for China - my boyfriend decided I was ready for one of these "classic" routes on Cathedral Ledge that I...uh...let's just say...struggled on. I fell a lot - big long swinging falls in which I would have smashed into the rock face if my feet hadn't been out in front of me. I banged up my knees, cut up my hands, and cried during the last pitch because I was so f***ing tired. But I made it ("sent" the route in climbing parlance)... and am now so proud of myself and so glad I took the risk. This sounds dumb, but it kind of encourages me to keep questioning all of this stuff, because even though it's hard and it hurts and I can't entirely see where it's going, I think this is probably all still worth it.

Thought 4: The whole climbing analogy thing helped me feel better when I got a friend request on Facebook from an old roommate and when I scrolled through all of her friends - all fresh-faced, happy shiny good married-off Christians from the adult group I used to go to - I got really depressed. (How come their faith is still intact? How much happier/easier/better are their lives because they still have Jesus? How come Jesus doesn't seem to have let them down the way he's let me down? etc.)

And a closing news item/update: I am now in South Africa and my boyfriend is flying over tomorrow to join me for a week in Cape Town (I am sooooooo excited!!). As a result, I'll be offline for a week or so starting Monday.

10 comments:

jennypo said...

***Thought 1: China has, what, over 1 billion people, the vast majority of whom do not lose sleep and tears over Jesus. Even with missionaries going there undercover and stuff (I know a couple, used to support them even), I doubt they'll make much of a dent. That's a lot of people for Jesus/God/HS to let go to hell. (Slapdash)

Our concept of God is too small. The Bible never limits him the way we do.

Abraham never heard about Jesus. Neither did Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah...

Oh, it's because of Jesus that they are in heaven, but they didn't know his name.

God delights to let us work with him, but he is not dependent on missionaries. He doesn't need our money, our prayers, or our lives in order to meet those who seek Love, Light, and Truth in China or anywhere else. He has many ways of reaching people when we fail.

He reveals himself to those who search for him in "every tribe and people and nation and tongue..." There are many, many people in China who have met the Living God without the aid of a church or a missionary. They will worship Jesus, when they know his name, with a joy those of us who know more and love less may never understand.

marie said...

can i please hide in your suitcase?

china, rock climbing, south africa??

can i go too please??

Spiritbear said...

China. Without them who would make our cheap plastic crap. If they see what the world is like, they just might demand to be treated like humans

jON said...

i know this seems strange, what with all of the very open, honest thoughts you have shared with us. but upon my first reading, honestly, what stood out the most was your use of the non-word "f***ing".

just curious. if you don't want to answer, tell me to go to hell or ignore me. it's all cool. but did you say "f***ing" as a reflex? i mean, is that your own personal and normal attitude about the word fuck? that you don't like it? or do you normally use it in conversation and just feel uncomfortable about spelling it? or was it habit? (as a pastor's kid, i understand the important dynamics of overanalyzing ever motive of every action until you want to scream)


"How come their faith is still intact? How much happier/easier/better are their lives because they still have Jesus? How come Jesus doesn't seem to have let them down the way he's let me down?"

i used to ask myself these questions. sometimes i still do. but now i have addendums to neutralize most of them.

what exactly IS that faith that is still intact? their lives only appear happier/easier/better because that is the act they put on to convince everyone, including themselves, that jesus never has let them down. but that's a lie. everyone, at one point or another, has been disappointed in god. we're just not allowed/afraid to admit it.

from this view, we're all equals then. we've all been let down. the only thing that separates us then, it would seem, is that some of us are honest. and some of us are liars.

and what does the precious bible say about liars?

i admire your honesty and refreshing openness slapdash. thanks for sharing yourself.

Steven Bently said...

Hi slapdash, Been enjoying your blog! How does one get the open opportunity to travel the world as you and your bf? Can you reveal any secrets?

With admiration, have lots of fun!

Slapdash said...

Hi all, thanks for the comments in my absence. Jennypo, to the degree I still believe in God, I am with you on the idea that our concept of God is too small. :)

Marie - next time?

Spiritbear - what *would* we do without cheap plastic crap from China? Walmart would go out of business. Er, wait, no, maybe they'll go out of business when the anti-immigrant lobby wins and illegal immigrants stop coming to the US...in turn causing Walmart to run out of people to pay crap wages to to run their stores?

jon - nice catch on "f***ing." It must be an aversion to spelling it out, because I say it quite liberally - perhaps too liberally - in real life. So that's strange, why should I care if I write the word on my totally anonymous blog? Must be remnants of that "good girl" complex at work. As to some of us being liars for not wanting to admit being disappointed in God... I need to mull that one over a bit. I have known some people who must be extremely self-deluded, because they seem able to turn any and all bone-crushing disappointments into a "blessing from the Lord." And they seem totally sincere in believing it, too.

Slapdash said...

Hi steven,

I am really blessed in my work life (can I still say 'blessed' as a skeptic?). I am a consultant in a little boutique firm and have clients that are pretty far-flung, hence all the overseas travel. I often fly in to a place for just a couple of days and then go back home, so it's not always vacation-land. But I decided it was a crying shame to come to South Africa and not see a bit of the country; so with all my frequent flier miles we got my boyfriend a free ticket, and voila! A pretty damn cheap and awesome vacation was had. :)

Rick Gibson said...

Hi,
I followed a white internet rabbit here and read about your growing doubts. To a certain extent I can relate because I have some doubts that I buried as an 11 year old that have come back with a vengence. I wish I could write some more detail here, but I'm on break and don't have that much time. Anyway, I was reading this dead philosopher dude named Jacques Ellul and thought you might be interested -- particularly in section III of the book. You can read it here: http://www.jesusmanifesto.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/ellul/what.pdf

Enjoy your trip!

jennypo said...

***"...so glad I took the risk. This sounds dumb, but it kind of encourages me to keep questioning all of this stuff, because even though it's hard and it hurts and I can't entirely see where it's going, I think this is probably all still worth it." (Slapdash)

Yes, Slapdash, it's worth it. No matter what, it's worth it.

Samanthamj said...

Hey Slapdash... Interesting post. Interesting blog... and why yes... you seem to have quite the intresting life. =) I want to hide in your suitcase too - but, I'm pretty damn sure my kids won't fit too, so I guess we are out of luck.

My mother was one of those missionaries in china for a while. I have heard tales... but, with my Mom, one never knows how much to believe. I often wondered how much saving of souls was really happening. It seemed to me that the disguise they worked under was a much more needed service. So, I hope they did some good - but, I too doubt they really converted too many people... and also have a problem believing any God would send so many non-believers to hell. Even if they HAVE "heard the gospel"... it makes no sense to me.

Anyway - hang tough and enjoy South Africa. How freaking cool is that?? And, oh.. I often use words like "freaking" instead of what I'd like to say too... even when I blog... out of habit, I guess.

=)
~smj