For a long time, I’ve been puzzled by the hatred against Christians. I have more than a few devoutly Christian friends and acquaintances, and they’re far from obnoxious, and very often, they’re very, well, Christian: eager to help others regardless of creed, striving to live up to their own moral standards, and engaged in their community. When religion comes up, I can talk about mine, and ask questions about theirs, and we’re listening to each other. Sometimes they invite me to their churches, and sometimes I go, and sometimes I don’t. It really doesn’t matter, because I’m confident in my religion, and I believe they’re confident in theirs, so there’s no point in arguing religious superiority.
Today, I was shopping at the mall with my children, and they found a floor video game they wanted to play. Nearby was a booth labelled “God Talk,” which I mistakenly believed was associated with the KGO radio show, which in my experience, is talking about Christianity (and other religions as they relate to Christianity) with an open mind. They had a book, so I thought while I was letting my children play, I’d ask them if they had any recommendations on a good, non-proselytizing book on Christian philosophy. So far I haven’t found anything I can use in a good way with Neil. The best so far has been a Teaching Company course on Christianity, but it, like most of the best non-preachy sources I’ve seen, is very much on a college level. Neil’s smart, but he’s still only 9.
I soon realized how stupid I was for expecting an intelligent answer from anyone working a kiosk at the mall. Before I could even phrase my question, one of the staffers asked me to fill out a questionaire with questions like “Do you believe in Jesus?” and “Do you want us to pray for you?” As I stared, incomprehendingly at the questions, I explained that I was a Buddhist. After being asked a few stupid questions like “how do you deal with sin?” I got lit into. The final upshot was that if Buddhism is right, we’ll all get reincarnated, but if Christianity is right, I’ll go to hell unless I’m Christian (and believe everything the Bible says)…so I’d have better odds at the afterlife lottery by being a Christian. Uh, if I had such a cynical view of religion, wouldn’t my odds be even better if I were a Muslim? Unfortunately, playing such a game would mean having to hang out with self-righteous Bible-thumping Christians like the one in front of me or having to wear ugly Muslim clothes for the rest of my (earthly) life, inspired only by the fear of a hell I don’t believe in, so I think I’ll just stick with the Buddhists, thanks.
Does this “you’re going to HELL if you don’t believe in JESUS” angle actually work with anyone? I think I’m going to not ask Christians I don’t know for advice on good Christian philosophy books any more. And yes, I was a total ‘tard for thinking all kinds of Christians are cool like my friends.
I think the reason you see so much hatred for Christians, is that it is the corrupt, obnoxious and judgmental ones that get the most press. You know, the Fred Phelps and Jerry Falwells of the world. Not to mention the nonfamous, pushy fundie types like you ran into at the mall. ‘Real’ caring Christians blend in with the rest of us sinners, quietly living their lives by example and realizing they are not ‘better’ than the rest of us, and also realizing they can’t push or scare most people into believing.
Sad Christian story:
When I worked at the reception desk of a nursing home in La Jolla not far from UCSD, the daughter of one of the patients ‘laid into’ me one Sunday because Sunday services had been cancelled. The home relied on a variety of local ministers who would volunteer to come in each week on an alternating basis. I can’t remember if it was actually Easter Sunday, or just a week or two before. At any rate, all the pastors were busy with their home churches or something so we weren’t having services that week. Anyway, this woman started having a spaz attack because her mother was not a Christian, and only had a few weeks left to live. “It’s Heaven or Hell folks!” she ranted at me. “Why can’t you find someone to come in?”
This woman was absolutely convinced her mother was going to hell and we would all be partially to blame because there was no pastor there who might convince her mother to repent before it was too late. How sad to live your own life in constant fear for the eternal lives of others. How sad that this daughter, if she’s still alive herself, is probably still convinced that her mother is in hell, and blaming herself (and us) for not ‘saving’ her.
Scary Christian family: Google JimBob and Michelle Duggar, if you haven’t heard of this family already.
Fellow Teaching Company addicts can now view Yahoo groups and phpbb forums:
A forum on each individual lecture in all recent courses:
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Doug van Orsow