Monday, April 28, 2008

Have I Arrived?

I don't quite know what kind of turn I've taken recently, but now whenever I hear (or read, online) apologetic-type arguments from Christians, they just sound ridiculous. Sophomoric. Foolish even. And I get angry and part of me wants to peel the blinders away from their own eyes. Now, it could be that I am running into people that have a hard time articulating their thoughts, or people who aren't interested in rationally critiquing their own views, I don't know. What I do know is that I don't have a lot of respect for Christians who have never faced their own dark night of the soul and been forced to step outside their faith to try to figure out whether what they believe is really true. I don't feel like I have anything to learn from Christians who are nicely swaddled in their beliefs, and in turn I tend to tune them out pretty fast.

So does this mean I'm now officially a cynical agnostic? Or worse?

14 comments:

jON said...

if you believe you are "worse" then you are still trapped inside of the very worldview you claim to find ridiculous.

i think you are just willing to think and most within the church are not. you are willing to be honest about the questions you have and seek answers NO MATTER where you find them, and many christians are not. you were one of them once and now you are not.

which puts you in the precarious position, in my opinion, of being dangerously close to being like these people as a polar opposite. don't look down on them because you too were once like them. talk with them, hope the best for them, but don't let them drag you down back into the old mindset that you have overcome. it is not a bad thing. it is just a thing.

Slapdash said...

"if you believe you are "worse" then you are still trapped inside of the very worldview you claim to find ridiculous."

In terms of my attitude, or in terms of thinking I'm now on the righter side of truth / closer to it, or ... ?

Are you suggesting that the ideal mental state is to be neutral on what people believe, to wind up a pure relativist?

I still respect the character and actions of many Christians I know, but I think the basis on which they pin their hope and existence is not terribly credible.

Lady through the Looking Glass said...

"you were one of them once and now you are not.

which puts you in the precarious position, in my opinion, of being dangerously close to being like these people as a polar opposite. don't look down on them because you too were once like them. talk with them, hope the best for them, but don't let them drag you down back into the old mindset that you have overcome."

Jon, I appreciate this advice, because at times, I found myself falling into this extreme (polar opposite).

Slapdash, I understand. Sometimes I feel like giving a few of them a good shake. Or a smack upside the head. Um, sorry? I really need to apply Jon's advice.

Slapdash said...

Here's a great example of what gets my blood boiling these days. Over on de-con, someone (a "drive-by Christian" it seems) left the following comment:

"Here is my question for you. Are you still a believer of God? And if so, are you still in a relationship with Him? Because that’s basically all you need. That and to share His Word through your testimony. Don’t lose the path towards salvation just because of a problem in childhood. Remember who your Savior is and follow Him. He’ll remember that when it comes to judgment time. God bless you."

A few years ago I would have had no problem with a comment like this. Today, I smack my forehead in exasperation, thinking there are 3 or 4 different places where I could pick apart the poster's argument. This is what I mean - I am losing that sense of empathy I once shared for those who have this perspective. I would like to think I am in a reactionary phase - you know, where the pendulum goes wildly the other direction before it settles into a calmer equilibrium. And perhaps then I can follow jon's advice and not get riled up, or on a high horse, or whatever.

Then again, maybe what angers me is the whole set of assumptions posters like this bring to discussions with de-cons/skeptics/doubters. No interest in listening or learning. Instead, an interest in 'enlightening' us with a message that they think we haven't heard before. Ugh.

Lady through the Looking Glass said...

Slapdash, if you think that's bad, let me share what Vera at 'Wishing doesn't make it so' (one of my blog pals) posted just this week.

She mentioned a situation in which a pastor wrote to a magazine, asking about church discipline. He stated that his first elder had informed him that one of his members would take different men home and sleep with them, while making her passive husband sleep on the floor at the foot of the bed.

What is AMAZING is that the pastor stated that he and the elder made three visits to the couple’s apartment during the next few months to see "whether [they] could help the member experience a reconversion, and help her husband begin to understand what God’s love is really all about."

HUH?!?

Why is it that they immediately reached for conversion as a panacea? Whatever happened to therapy? This couple obviously needs serious help!

In the comment by the drive-by Christian, he/she stated that a relationship with Christ is all anyone needs. Really? How is that so, and why? How will Christ help this woman to stop her self-destructive behaviour and save her marriage? Some qualification to that statement needs to be provided.

I think that Christians need to wake up to reality and leave their naive thinking behind. But as you rightly stated, they might not be interested in listening to perspectives other than their own and learning from them, since they already believe that they have all the answers. Double ugh!

Now I REALLY need to apply Jon's advice.

steph said...

i totally know what you're talking about! the pat answers and advice from christians who still assume that the "word won't return void", so they spout their simplified sermons as if they will cause something to magically click inside our backslidden brains (like we haven't thought it through a million times already) and -poof! presto! insta-reconvert! it's not that easy. usually if someone tries to tell me that i just haven't experienced god or that i didn't really have a relationship with jesus i want to scream.

when i was still a christian i had a professor at my bible college (blush...) talk about the "dark night of the soul", but he used the phrase, "letting god die and rise again in your life". it didn't make any sense to me at the time because, to me, god couldn't die. i was different than other people. i was going to be one of the faithful who perservered until his return, and doubt didn't even enter the picture... until it did. i guess we can't expect these drive-by's to understand what it is that we're trying to say. they can't relate and most of the time i feel like i'm beating a dead horse to try to explain it to them. i don't even know if the effort to be understood is worth it anymore. we're speaking the same language, but the words have different meanings.

what i really want is that gun in "hitchiker's guide to the galaxy" - the one that lets other people understand your perspective. that would be so awesome. i already get their point of view; i was one of them! for a long time! now let's point the gun the other way.

jON said...

coming to this point of view has been nothing less that world-shattering for me. i know it has been for each of you as well. in order for a person to understand, they must go through the same thing. and how many people wish that sort of thing on themselves willingly while they're still convinced they have all the answers?

it takes that first hand life-altering moment that just won't lend itself to the simplified sermon. something that by its very existence negates the previous world you thought you knew to be true.

many within the church were born there. they have never experienced the world. they've only heard stories about it. about people and behaviors and what people who engage in those behaviors are like. what they're ALL like. how to know who they are and what they act like and what they think and what they believe simply based on what they're wearing or doing at any given moment.

you don't need anything from those sinners. they need something from YOU.

or such is the mindset. (the very same one that we can be in danger of falling into...) until that gets cracked, there can be no hope of understanding. we live in a completely different world now with different norms, different culture, different beliefs, different rules(if any).

they have no context to hear what we are saying. they would need new ears like the ones we have...new eyes to see the things we see...and new hearts and new minds to perceive the things we perceive...

AJ said...

Do you assume that ALL Christians act this way? That all Christians spew pat answers and have not, in fact, had their own dark hours? Haven't you, in fact, been surprised by the respect shown you by former friends of yours who are still Christians? Many of us have had dark hours in the faith and struggled through it. Please don't insult our intelligence by assuming that all struggles end up on your side -- the side of unbelief/disbelief.

Slapdash said...

*sigh* AJ, did you even read what I wrote? Please identify where I made global statements about "all" Christians being *anything*.

Slapdash said...

(and who's insulting whose intelligence, anyway?) ;-P

Slapdash said...

steph: "what i really want is that gun in "hitchiker's guide to the galaxy" - the one that lets other people understand your perspective. that would be so awesome. i already get their point of view; i was one of them! for a long time! now let's point the gun the other way."

YES, I definitely feel this way. Which is a hindrance, in some ways. Because I lived the faith for so long, I understand - or am pretty sure I understand their views - so I'm less interested in listening (potentially not good on my part). In my mind, it's MY views that need to be heard and understood in this conversation, and that's what is so rare in a discussion with a fundamentalist-type Christian. There's so little curiosity coming from their side of the table, it makes whatever little curiosity I have to hear their views (which I mostly already know) just die on the vine.

OneSmallStep said...

** Today, I smack my forehead in exasperation, thinking there are 3 or 4 different places where I could pick apart the poster's argument. **

I don't have this reaction as much against the intellectual side of Christianity, I have it more in terms of the emotional side. In many ways, I don't like how it sometimes treats people. It's almost like they're play things, working in some grand cosmic scheme. I had a friend tell me that she doesn't know how God was glorified by the Holocaust, but that's why she's not God.

To me ... all those people killed at the expense of God's glory? Died in horrible ways, in agony, alone? Where is the cut-off point to saying, "This far and no further" in terms of what happens to people on Earth?

jON said...

i am trying to get a game of apples to apples going and i would be honored if you would join us, if even for a little while. just a little break from the norm... ;)

jON said...
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