Monday, June 23, 2014
And Don't Shove it Down My Throat
Please forgive if the text of this meme is off-putting, but I've seen this little prize popping up here and there on my news feed for a while, now. In my experience, it actually represents a pretty common cultural viewpoint.
In case for some strange reason you are unclear on what it is, it usually goes a little something like this: "Religion" (which usually means Christianity) is something you should keep to yourself. It's great if you want to be a Christian -everybody should find that something that makes them happier and live better lives- but I don't want to hear about it, especially if it is that. I can tolerate Suzie constantly sharing Buddha quotes in hew newsfeed. I can support the "love everybody" stuff that sounds like it was from the closing thought on an Oprah episode. But really, I don't want to hear more of this Jesus stuff. After all, one of the things that makes us here in the West so civilized and progressive is that we finally understand that religious beliefs ought to be completely private.
Huge problem, though. That statement is, itself, a statement of religious belief. It makes claims about spiritual truth and how things ought to be. No, it may not be saying which version of "god" you ought to believe in. But it is saying how any "god", or tree, or whatever, ought to be believed in when it comes to the public sphere. Ironically, while this attitude whines about how they are tired of Christians telling people how to live their lives, they are doing the same thing.
The thing most of us do not realize is that there is no such thing as a morally or spiritually "neutral" person. Everybody has beliefs about what things ought to be like and what spiritual reality is like -even if they aren't aware of it or haven't taken the time to explicitly codify it. And everybody both lives out of that and expresses it constantly to those around them -again, often without even being aware of it. We simply take it for granted. Call it what you will... most call it a "worldview." But let's not pretend that you can interact with anybody in a relationship or in society without your basic beliefs and their basic beliefs coming into play and being "pushed" on each other. It can't be done.
(Incidentially, the advantage most non-Christians have is that their beliefs are culturally more mainstream at this point, and their beliefs have no real name -partly by design, since many modern Westerners dislike or distrust organized belief systems. Therefore, they get to claim it as a kind of "common sense.")
So, in our interactions let's at least start off with that nonsense blown out of the water. You and I are going to live out of our own basic moral and spiritual beliefs, and we are going to do it in such a way that we express those beliefs onto each other. Time to accept it.
Yes, some "Christians" can be obnoxious. But guess what? Being told that I constantly need to shut up about Jesus is obnoxious to me. Maybe I am obnoxious, but the centerpiece of my worldview is about a God who sends His Son into the world to love and die for His enemies. I'm not saying that makes me better. I don't believe it because it makes me better at all - I believe it because I believe it is true and because I personally know God. That may be weird to you. That may sound silly. You are free to disagree with me. You are free to tell me you think that is ridiculous. But I also believe that when push comes to shove and all the drama dies away, isn't a person who truly follows a man who died to love and save his enemies the kind of person you would want around at the end of the day?