Tuesday, March 14, 2006

For Catharine

I don't usually take a separate post to answer a commenter, but I thought this one deserved special consideration. Catharine left this comment on the "Very Special Episode" post and I thought it addressed the subject matter from a completely different perspective. Here is what she wrote:

I left the Church (and, now that you mention it, I was running) two years ago. It wasn't about being fed or being loved. My home church was very loving and supportive. My crisis of faith was in believing in a religion where such a huge population of the practitioners wholly and completely ignored their Savior's call to mercy, nonjudgement, tolerance and love, in order to continue their petty little hate-mongering and fascist ideology.

I felt that, if I were to continue my association wtih such an organization, I would be complicit in the furtherance of such evil. I don't "hate fags," I don't believe that God intends for women to be subordinate to men, I don't believe that God has ordained the upper-middle-class white guy as arbiter of all things Christian.

Being a former history major I can tell you with 100% certainty that, despite with teh President of the United States tells you, this country was not founded by Christianity or on Christian principles, but was in fact, founded by a handful of men who referred to themselves as Deists. Full stop. End of story. They weren't Christians. Get over it.

So American, contrary to current public opinion, is not a Christian nation. It is a nation built on the premise that there be no national or state religion, and that, regardless of how the majority worships, every person living under the aegis of this great country and her miraculous Constitution should be free to do so in peace, tolerance and acceptance. It is nothing less than your Messiah preached 2000 years ago. Yet so very, very few Christians see their way clear to live in that.

I left the Church -- running -- because I knew that if I spent one more minute there, supporting a system which was turning my beloved democratic republic into a theocratic autocracy, which I find repugnant and despicable on every level, I would be suborning that action -- upholding it -- giving comfort to it.

My soul and my conscience simply could not allow it. I have since turned to Deism myself, in a attempt to retreat to the teachings of the men who created this great country -- Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Washington.

And -- I mean this with the utmost sincerity without a hint of sarcasm -- thank you for asking. No one in the Church ever has.

Catharine I'm not going to patronize you, but let me tell you right up front that I am sorry. I am sorry for the way that group of Christians treated not only you, but also many other people. It's funny that a group who can be very "loving and supportive" can also be merciless, judgemental, intolerance and unloving. Maybe funny isn't the right word. Odd would work. So would sad.

I'm not going to defend those people. You see, they disgust me as much as they disgust you. Reading your thoughts I can see that you are not afraid to speak out against the things you disagree with. You want to change things. So do I. That's much of the reason I'm writing this series about what is wrong with the church. I don't want a group of morons to do to anyone what they did to you -- give you the impression that Christianity is about legalistic living and conforming to the church's wishes. I'll admit that I've seen churches and Christians like the ones who drove you from the church. But that's not the way Christianity is supposed to work.

The problem is simply that we Christians are no better than you deists. We want to be better. We wish we were. But we're not. We have our own prejudices and quirks. We hate watching society decay just as you do. We detest injustice in the world. But like everyone else, we have our selfish side. And that selfish side speaks very loudly in the darkness of our souls. Too loudly. And it's all too easy to please ourselves rather than to start tilting at windmills. Forgive us for that.

I do notice that your comment isn't directed to me as much as it is directed at Christians in general. Since you do that, I won't bother to point out that I'm not any too concerned with the religious beliefs of a bunch of occasionally brilliant men who lived a couple of centuries previous. I'm a big history buff, and we could probably have some great discussion about it, but the truth is it really doesn't matter what they thought about God. What matters is our own individual opinions and how we act upon those opinions. I know I'm a failure working toward my goal of living a perfect life. I'm also a failure at living a perfect day. That's why I am grateful that my God is a merciful God. He forgives me when I ask Him because I've trusted Him with my life for all eternity. I want to reflect that exact mercy toward everyone else, but again I'm a failure, just as you are and everyone else taking in oxygen on this planet.

You ran from the church because you saw your political views out of step with the other church members. The sad thing is that Jesus isn't about politics. Jesus is about people. So instead of seeking after the opinions of mere men and women, why not seek after the opinion of the One who created them? You can ask questions. God can handle them. It's just that some of us idiots don't know how to handle them as well as our God. Sorry about that.

Finally, I'm very sorry for the fact that nobody either missed you or they didn't respect you enough to ask why you left the church. Too many times we don't want to hear. We're bad that way. But know that there are quite a few of us who are willing to listen. The reason I'm bothering with this series of blog posts is to try to spur some thought on how we can be more like Jesus and less like the uncaring, unloving people from your old church. Thanks for pointing out just how far we have to go and the extent of the damage we can do.

7 comments:

A Human Bean said...

Catherine,

I hope you read this post from rev-ed because he is so right. You don't have the be a white anglo-saxon republican to be a Christian. The church has made and will continue to make many mistakes. Never forget that the church and Jesus are not the same. Jesus is perfect, the church is far from it.

Jennifer said...

Catherine,

I left the church years ago for the same reason. I share your views. These guys here will tell you that. And they still like me! I’m not afraid to speak out against the Pat Robertsons and George Bushes of the world who are using my Lord to advance their own greedy ambitions. I’m also not afraid to say, like Rev, that I fail each and every day in my own journey trying to live this life as a reflection of Jesus. People will fail you time after time, because we are human. Jesus never will – He is God. I am incredibly blessed that I have found a church full of humble people seeking to follow Him too, where alternative viewpoints and questions aren’t just respected, but encouraged. And you don’t know it yet, but you have too – right here, in this group of bloggers. I thank God every day for bringing these people across my path. I hope you will give us a chance because I think your input would be very valuable to our discussions. But more than that, I hope you will give Jesus a chance.

julie said...

Catherine -
Thanks so much for a window into your journey. Asking hard questions and seeking truth in unpopular venues can get church folk a little queesy! I hope you will be open to Christ-followers who are seeking truth too (not just rehearsing dogma). It's possible.

jenn said...

I've said this before, but it is this very reason I haven't been able to bring myself to go to church. This post almost brought me to tears. I feel so validated by it. Thank you.

Mike said...

Jesus is about politics, just not "donkey and elephant." Jesus makes political moves throughout the Gospels -- eating with sinners is a political statement. Politics is the way in which we govern ourselves in a community. Thus a church even has "politics." Sometimes we abuse these. Conferences have politics. But our true politics is a kingdom politics in which there is room for declaring our mandated care of the poor as the church (not so much a mandate for a secular government)...

John Howard Yoder has an excellent book on The Politics of Jesus.

rev-ed said...

Amen, mike, but we need to be aware of our definitions and the common usage of the day. Those who envision Jesus with a Democratic button or a Republican bumper sticker are sadly misinformed on His priorities.

Carol said...

I think it's important to remember that the church is full of hypocrites. I'm top dog on that list. We don't have grace, mercy, forgiveness and all the other godly attributes down pat. We mess up constantly. It's horrible! And I praise God we have churches full of other hypocrites from which we can all learn.

One of the most effective tools the enemy uses to divide us and keep us infighting among ourselves is offense. If we allow ourselves to become offended by what another believer says or does, it's a wedge that prevents us from fellowship with each other and from becoming more Christ-like.

Vicious cycle: You mess up, I see you are not always Christ-like, I am offended by you, I turn away from you, I look at the next person, they mess up, I see they are not always Christ-like, and so forth.

There is always something we can find offensive about other people. It comes from the fact that we are human, hence imperfect. But to allow offense to divide us is Satan's ultimate weapon.

The key is to accept God's grace for ourselves so we can extend it to the rest of the sinful world whether they be in the church or not.

Unless there's something I've missed here...That also happens.