I want to say I’m sorry. I’m about to go all Christian on you again. I apologize if you’re sick of that. Christian stuff isn’t the only thing I write about, but I guess I do wander there a lot. To be fair, I warned you I might. It’s in my blog bio. I said I’d be talking about a few things that were important to me; one of those things was faith.
This is a blog written by a Christian lady. If you’re interested in learning more about Judaism or New Age, I’m going to seriously disappoint you. If you’re just in it for the silly stuff I write, and you’re just tolerating my Christian musings, thanks for sticking it out. You’re a good friend. .
If there is one thing I like, it’s making people happy. I’m not an agitator. Even if I don’t agree with you, there’s very little chance I’ll challenge you. I haven’t seen people accomplish anything I like when they argue. They walk away with their opinions unchanged, AND they’re angry. Who really wins? I guess people who like making people angry do.
I like finding common ground; I like to put my focus there. I like diplomacy, but there is one thing I like MORE than getting along: common sense. Common sense. I am a fan. I can’t bring myself to ignore common sense for the sake of staying with the herd. I’ve never been able to do that.
In my formative years I went to a Baptist church. Not as strict as some, but stricter than others. While I went to that church I was taught about Jesus. When I was young I decided I believed that Jesus was my Savior and my friend. It was an easy thing to do, because everyone around me was doing the same thing. Christianity was certainly part of my culture, but, for me, it was also personal.
In my Baptist church I saw adults who showed me what it looks like to be a grown up who believes in Christ. Those grown ups were decent, humble and kind. They cared about people, and served others. They took time to teach me stories from the Bible, and they showed me with their actions how their faith impacted their lives. Those Christians helped shape me. It was a positive experience.
My Baptist church was not perfect. I believe they had the important things right, but from my current view point, I believe they also had some things wrong. My Baptist church thought it was important to be a Christian, and Baptist. Well, not Baptist, really. Just not Catholic, or Lutheran or Methodist, or any other denomination that wasn’t Baptist. Baptists believed that Baptists had figured out exactly the right way to believe.
When I was younger, most of my school friends were Catholic. Every now and then, I would be staying over at one of their homes, and we would have to go to church. I was honest-to-goodness scared to go to a Catholic church. And can we just be straight with each other? Once I got there, the incense, chanting and long robes didn’t exactly scream, “relax, make yourself at home”. It was intimidating.
I thought that Catholics did not believe the right way. I’m pretty sure Catholics were taught the same thing, in reverse. I also was under the impression that other protestant denominations were not ideal.
Us Baptists were not alone in our snobbery. I had a Catholic friend tell me a story about growing up in a small Catholic community in Iowa. She said a protestant family moved into her neighborhood; that protestant family was shunned by all the Catholic families. At what point in life do intelligent people decide the shunning technique is their go to move?
I have another friend who went to a protestant church that she once loved. The church leaders there started getting more and more dialed in to the exact way they interpreted God’s instructions for their lives. My dynamic Christian friend and her family were eventually found to be lacking. They were also shunned. By their own church family.
Do you think I mean that those church people just didn’t get along with each other after that? Oh no, you would be wrong. That’s what I thought my friend meant when she first told me this story. Then my friend explained that she and her family were literally shunned. My friend taught me that shunning is a real strategy that has rules and everything.
She explained that the church members had directions from their leaders to turn their physical bodies away from my friend, walk to the other side of street if they saw her, and avoid ANY and all contact with her and her family.
If I were my friend, here’s how I would have liked to handle that situation. When the church leaders came to me to announce that I was going to be shunned, I would say, “Too late. I already starting shunning you. This morning.”
Then the leaders would have to go back to their manual and look up on page 18, Chapter 4, “How to Handle a Double Shun”. Gotcha! The ol’ double shun. You never saw it coming.
Read: When a second shun is put forth after a preceding shun, the shun in place is dominant, or could equalize the previous shun. Thereby making the shunning power of a second shun not withstanding of all shunning parties. Are you with me? No? I thought that made perfect sense. Just like shunning does.
My friend blew up my brain when she told me about shunning. I thought, “THAT happens? That happens in this day and age, in my backyard?” Is it really any wonder why so many people find religion distasteful?
I can only guess that the people running this shunning operation are middle schoolers. Because that routine sounds like it’s right out of the middle school handbook on conflict resolution. For sure these people are taking themselves too seriously. For sure.
I find the whole shunning operation to be illogical and immature. I’m pointing fingers, but I shouldn’t. I’ve been guilty of both as well.
When I was in college one of my favorite classes was on Chinese history. My professor was from China. One time he was telling us a story about some Christian missionaries in China. I raised my hand and asked him what religion they were.
He answered, “Christian.”
I said, “What kind of Christian though? Baptist? Lutheran? Catholic?”
He laughed at me. He said, “I don’t know. They were Christian. What difference does it make?’
I was embarrassed, but I wanted to say, “It makes a big difference. I want to know if they’re the kind of Christians who believe the right way, or the wrong way.”
I don’t know at what point in my adult life I had an epiphany. Actually, it wasn’t really an epiphany. I guess my view point has evolved slowly over time. I now can see something that I was clearly missing before. Religion is for humans. It isn’t for God. The collection of beliefs each denomination has compiled and noted as ideal, were put together by humans, for humans. Humans love affiliation. They like to be in clubs, and to be able to name things that set them apart.
I’ve told you before I’m never going to be a theologian. But, from what I have read, Christians are people who believe Christ is their Savior. Christians see a need for a Savior. They acknowledge that Christ is doing the saving; they know they can’t save themselves. They also believe the Bible is actually put together by God, and contains the answers for their life.
If you’re a Christian, it doesn’t matter if you yammer on all day about what you believe. Your faith should show. You know, in how you act. The decisions you make. What you say. What you don’t say. Where you go. Who you shun. Sorry. I thought I was over that. I’m still bitter. Christians are also not apathetic. Christ calls out apathy big time.
So, that’s a Christian. Right? I mean, what am I missing?
I know. I know. You might be thinking, “what about Baptism?” Everybody is positive they are right about Baptism. I have nothing intelligent to say on the subject. The only thing I feel like I know for sure, is that I’m certain God did not give us Baptism for the purpose of arguing about it. Why can’t we just agree to disagree? Because I can. I really can.
Our family financially supports a Catholic missionary. She is a former student of Scott’s. She used to hold Bible studies in the morning before school. Now she’s a part of a college campus ministry. She is one of the most joyful people we’ve ever met. She is a Jesus freak.
Our kids go to Lutheran church camp. It’s solid. They go to our “Evangelical Free” church’s youth group. It’s awesome! Our youth pastor is one of Eddie’s best friends. They’ve been on missions trips together, and Eddie has learned a lot from being a part of our church’s youth program.
In the summer, Eddie goes to a Catholic youth group. This youth group is run by a husband and wife who are the closest examples to Christ-like behavior that I have ever seen. This couple’s home is open to people who need shelter. They have organized, “Feed my Starving Children” in our community. They have had Eddie at the nursing home visiting the elderly, and working in the community garden. It is so exciting.
Eddie said that at Catholic youth group they pray and read the Bible. He said sometimes they also recite prayers from a book together. That’s usually a little more Catholicky than Eddie’s in the mood for, so instead he just opts out and has his own personal conversation with God. That’s Eddie’s preference, and his leaders are totally cool with that. Although, his leaders did say that typically prayer skipping is worthy of a 4 hour shun. They showed him mercy (guess I won’t be letting this shunning thing drop any time soon).
I think people should go to church where they’re comfortable. I think people who are just going through the motions, should ask themselves why. I think people should focus on what is in their own heart, and not presume to know what’s in another’s. I think folks should acknowledge that various Christian denominations are rich in history and tradition, but not at all significant to saving their souls. I think people should be honest about what religion is, and what it isn’t.
I just said a lot. I hope I didn’t make you mad. It’s just that when I see something that doesn’t make sense, I can’t seem to stop myself from pointing it out. It seriously feels impossible to sit on that stuff. It can be annoying for both of us.
If you don’t agree with me, I’m totally fine with that. Just let me know, so that I can add you to my list of those I’ve shunned.