Thursday, August 24, 2006

(Almost) Midnight Confession

You know the weekly scene, on a typical reality show, where a contestant dishes sotto voce in front of a camera, directly to the audience?

That's how I feel right now. I'm talking to you up close and personal. I'm going to say something not very nice; not very lay-ministerial; bitchy and mean, really. Just between you and me.

Christians drive me crazy. Specifically the self-identified born-agains; the Bible-thumpers; the people whose mission is to hector me into abandoning my "dead" tradition, murmuring the Sinners' Prayer and "making a decision for Jesus."

Once upon a time in my life I was what I would call a skeptipagan. An agnostipagan. I never really signed on the dotted line of neopaganism, but I did find something evocative about certain aspects of it -- the rhythms of the pagan year; the ritual; the tat. And the pagan folk I met tended to be nice people -- a little flaky, sometimes, but nice. I look back at this phase in my spiritual formation with a mixture of humor and embarrassment. But I've got to tell you: If anyone could drive me out of Christianity and back into neopaganism, it would be the born-agains. I would frankly rather spend a decade on a desert island with a coven of neopagans than two minutes in an elevator with some arrogant, self-righteous, preachy fellow Christian nattering regurgitated prooftexts and pious platitudes at me. I find nothing particularly compelling or appealing or referential to the Gospel in this behavior; if anything, it makes me wonder how I sound when I'm around non-religious people: Dear God, please dope-slap me if I ever sound or act like that.

The great irony here is that the most obnoxious of these folks have a handy self-fulfilling martyrdom complex...so that if it's ever suggested to them that perhaps their words and behaviors, instead of attracting others to Christianity, actually drive people away, their response is likely to be along the lines of, "Praise the Lord! I am being persecuted for my faith! Jesus said this would happen to me! Hallelujah!"

Whatever.

Anyway...I just needed to get this off my chest. Just between you and me. Shhhh.

22 comments:

Trish said...

My lips are sealed; your secret is safe with me. :)

samtzmom said...

AMEN!

net said...

I hear ya!

Ringelstruempfe said...

YES!

toujoursdan said...

Yeah. That Christian-to-Christian debate board on B-Net can really do a number on your faith.

Swandive said...

Rock right on sister. Amen.

Rainbow Pastor said...

What you said, in spades.

At least neopagans don't tell you you'll rot in hell (or burn, they can't decide) if you don't believe EXACTLY like they do...

I'm far more embarassed by those so-called Christians than I am by the extreme examples of the GLBT community the media loves to show in their coverage of Pride parades. I'd rather be on the floats with the mist flamboyant drag queens than on the sidewalk with the self-righteous preachers...wait, I have been!

Mata H said...

The toughest thing for me is figuring out how to do what I know I should do, but struggle with from the depth of my soul. How to best love these people who are my brothers and sisters in Christ? I know that if I cannot find that way to love them, they will never change -- but I will (and into someone I don't want to be.) It is a huge struggle for me.

Verdugo said...

"Could it be me, Lord?"

revabi said...

I hear you.

Evelyn said...

This is a discussion that resounds with me. I do get very frustrated with Christians who sound just like pharisees, and discount my faith as "dead". I'm with Mata H..... I struggle with keeping love in MY response........which when all is said and done, is all that I am responsible for.

Anonymous said...

"Dear God, please dope-slap me if I ever sound or act like that..."

Hmmm... Not sure whether you deserve to be dope-slapped or not, (I suppose in a way we all do) but I'm afraid that these comments sound almost as self-righteous as the comments of those you accuse. (sort of like "thank God I am not like THEM!")

Whatever. I guess I always thought that judging is God's job.

Grace said...

Lutheranchik,

I think part of the problem is just really alot of misunderstanding. As Lutherans we affirm justification through faith alone in Jesus Christ. But, most Lutheran people do not speak in terms of "getting saved." We don't use the same terminology. But, I think the reality of the gospel is the same.

To my mind, we should lovingly confront this. I don't want folks feeling as if our church is apostate from the faith, or something.

And, as Christians, Jesus wants us to have a spiritual unity together even across different faith traditions. Do you agree?

BTW, I love your blog. Your friend, J.C. Fisher first referred me to it. Thanks for all your sharing.

God bless!

LutheranChik said...

Aieee! I owe J.C. an e-mail! :-D

Yes; bridge-building is a great thing. But how do you build a bridge over to someone who won't even acknowledge that you're on the same spiritual continent? Sigh. I don't know what to do with that.

LutheranChik said...

Re Anonymous' comment about "judging": Unlike the folks on the other side, I'm making no negative judgment about these people's relationship with God. What I'm saying is that I have a difficult time dealing with them. It's allowed, isn't it, to be annoyed and angered by people -- or do I get my knuckles rapped by the Kristian Kops for that too?

Abbey of the Arts said...

Oh my goodness, just this afternoon I was telling my husband I was leaning more towards neopaganism than Christianity these days because I can't stand what the Religious Right has done and I am disappointed in the left for not being a stronger voice, plus I do love those seasons and cycles of the natural year. Thanks for a great post. You are absolutely allowed to be annoyed, angered, etc. Let it all in.
Blessings, Christine

Anonymous said...

Guess that "love one another" thing only applies to loving other like-minded folks, eh? They are, after all, the easiest to love.

Whether you like it or not - and no matter how you spell it - (which sure makes it look for all the world that you ARE judging others) those on "the other side", as you say, are our brothers and sisters in Christ, too.

I guess you could go ahead and be annoyed and angered...that's the easiest thing. Praying for them is probably just too much bother.

LutheranChik said...

"Anonymous" (actually I have a good idea who you are): How do you know I'm not? Do you live with me? Do you have a special empathic connection to my thoughts?

Didn't think so.

BTW, if you think that your posts are in any way remedying my jaundiced viewpoint of your coreligionists, you'd be mistaken. Actually, I should thank you for underscoring the points of my post -- see adjectives "arrogant," "self-righteous" and "preachy." You'd better quit while you're ahead.

Anonymous said...

Feel better?

Just remember that when you point a finger ("arrogant, self-righteous, preachy") three of them point back at you.

Grace said...

I know Lutheranchik. It's not an easy thing. And, we all struggle with feeling rejected or being misunderstood.

I have alot of fellowship in evangelical circles, especially since my husband is not Lutheran. I think one thing that helps is to talk about how I came to faith, and my relationship with Christ. Also, how the liturgy of the church speaks to me, and can nourish my relationship with the Lord...things like that.

But, of course every situation is different, and it's true some people are set in their minds to think the worse no matter what.

But, hey, Lutheran chik, you're trying that's the important thing, and God knows your heart.

Hang in there!!

P.S. I'm sure J.C. would love hearing from you.

Lorna said...

laughing - though it's no laughing matter. Jesus weeps too!

Anonymous said...

For years I would have agreed with you. I'd still like to. But...it's getting harder.
Yes, dealing with rude, opinionated stiffnecked self-righteous Christians is a nightmare. And they provide Christ's enemies with easy ammunition. And they are an embarrassment to other Christians.
So?
They are insufferable. But could you really give up Jesus to be rid of them, Lutheranchik? Could any Christian?
Many non-Christians use them as an excuse to belittle the faith, but does that actually push people away? If nothing else, it gets people talking about Christianity. And when so much of society consider any discussion of religion impolite (frex, the military rule of never discussing religion, politics or women) the proclamation of the faith there can never be courteous.

It would be nice to think that the gospel is being spread by the example of considerate, thoughtful Christians shining with love.
But is it? I try to be polite, but fail regularly. One of my friends converted from paganism to Christianity - and attributes that in part to a pitiless diatribe that I inflicting on the poor fellow, shredding his beliefs. It wasn't even that I felt that he called for desperate measures; I was just in a bloodyminded mood that day and smashing his worldview allowed me to vent my venom.
But as a result of that, he started his walk to Christ.
I've no equivalent story about bringing someone to Christ by being an example of His love and life. Of course, that could just be that I'm so bad at following our Lord.
And I didn't bring my friend to Jesus; that wreath belongs to another of his friends. I'd love to hear them discuss their conversations, but she's converted to paganism now, so isn't interested. :-S

What brought you to Jesus, Lutheranchik? How about everyone else? After all, if it was the humility and love of another Christain, that example is the best argument against self-righteous Christianity. But if it wasn't?

God Bless, Whitelaughter