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The "Pick and Choose" Religion
Posted 08 December 2006 - 08:07 PM
Today he invited me to the churches Christmas program and I thanked him but declined the offer. Jokingly he asked if I was a bit of a scrooge and I did say that there were some aspects of Christmas that left me scrooge like. He asked me what they were and I candidly answered that Christianity had abandoned me as a young man and that I no longer believed in fairy tales, unicorns or big daddys ina sky. He was not angry in the slightest but asked me to elaborate so I did. I told him about my experience as a seminary student (which you have all heard over at EA) and that I found it hard to believe in a religion that allowed it's membership to pick and choose those rules, regulations and commandments that best suited their particular lifestyle, while ignoring those things that went against how they wanted to live. We talked about women teachers which the bible strictly forbids yet he his self has many working at his school. He said times have changed and I said then why wasn't changing times included in the bible? Surely God knew that times would change so why didn't he include when women teachers would be allowed? We then got into one of Steves favorites, Leviticus, which any Christian worth his frankinscense knows is where God says queers are sinners. I brought up the shellfish particulars and I even told him to visit the mixed fiber website and God hates amputees. We had a good conversation but as always happens I got busy with another customer and we weren't able to come to any conclusions. I think he was probably relieved that I got busy because I got the sense that he was more or less on the ropes. He's a good man and I know his heart is in the right place but like most Christians they are blind to those things which have no answer and only open to those things which suit their lives.
I don't hold that against them, just like I wouldn't hold a persons inability to read or write against them. Being ignorant is not a shameful thing or an embarassment. Being ignorant is just not knowing and that is all. Some may argue that believing in sky daddys is volunteered ignorance and to a degree that may be true. But if you have been spoon fed nothing but one set of rules all your life, it is very difficult, for some, impossible to break away. I feel somewhat saddened but None of us can save the world, so life goes on.
I think I really got to him when I called Christianity the "Pick and Choose" Religion though. He seemed to squirm a bit when I gave him examples and I could tell the subject made him less than comfortable. Perhaps we can get a dialogue going someday and see where that boat carries us. Like I said he's a very nice man a good neighbor, good customer and likes tall double shot mochas. How bad can he be?
So many atheists are so militant and hardcore about religious types that they become what they despise the most themselves. General name calling, lumping everyone into a group, saying things like, they are all alike etc. etc. is exactly what the fundies do. Being tolerant and accepting people with their flaws and scars is a much better way to begin a dialogue than telling someone their beliefs are stupid or that they are stupid. Being cordial is a much better way to learn and teach than slapping the hell out of someone.
What we say or feel between us here is one thing but the real world sometimes demands that we accept others as they are and just get along. I often wonder how long I would stay in business if there were a big sign on my door that read, "Atheist Owned Business" My guess is a very short while.
My point in all this gibberish is this. We must choose our battles and our battlefields very carefully. We must not and never give an inch in our quest for the truth, but we must temper our beliefs with enough humility to not create a problem where none should exist. Be clever enough to create a question in someones mind without ever ridiculing their beliefs. Cause others to think outside the box without them knowing it was your idea. Listen. Always part friends and learn to agree to disagree. And probably the most important of all, don't take it all to serious. %000 years from now, who'll know the difference?
Posted 08 December 2006 - 08:40 PM
What we say or feel between us here is one thing but the real world sometimes demands that we accept others as they are and just get along.
You have got that right, my friend. We do have to accept people the way they are, the only other option is not to accept people at all, and that is about as antisocial as a person could be.
I do admire your ability to remain calm when talking to religious people, I usually can do it too, but it's a stretch for me.
Today I found myself unexpectedly surrounded by strangers in the emergency ward of our local hospital. My lovely husband had gone out for a lunchtime bike ride and had a collision with a car. He does have a broken arm, but he'll be fine.
Everybody at that hospital was as kind and helpful as they could be. The ambulance driver gave me a pair of latex gloves to wear as I was carrying the damaged bicycle to our car, just so I would not get my hands greasy. At one point when his details were being recorded the clerk asked me what was the nature of my relationship with him. I simply said that we are domestic partners, which is a fact of law as we are registered as such in California. She continued to be just as friendly and pleasant as she had been, and so was everyone else.
Yes, I have problems with the institution of Christianity and with the Muslim faith too. But when I meet a person I know or guess is Christian or Muslim face to face I do not expect them to be unpleasant to me and they very rarely are. The doctor, nurses, orderlies and receptionists at the hospital did not treat him or I differently because we are a gay couple. They are professional people with a commitment to doing good things in the world. I could not care less if they were Christian, Muslim or Spaghetti Monsterites, they were kind and helpful.
So, we do need to draw a line between what we say when we discuss religion and how we interact with our fellow citizens.
I'm glad I live in a country where over 99% of the people agree and have the intention to treat each other fairly.
Now if we could just keep the freekin' ballot propositions out of our bedroom that would further improve my life.
Posted 08 December 2006 - 08:57 PM
Posted 08 December 2006 - 09:35 PM
I really like your approach to his White. I feel that for issues in Atheism, we should be like Martin Luther King Jr. when it comes to talking to generalized people, but when it comes to being attacked, in a terrible way shape or form, we must become MalcomX to those who attack us. Such as, if a man was to walk into my store and we had a chat about it, then it is a nice debate none the less, no hard feelings, but if it comes to violence and screaming hate across a town hall, then we must rise up, and stand up.
Excellent post, Top.
I also agree with TWC in that we should not run around causing conflict for conflict's sake. But all too often we find ourselves in the almost surreal position of dealing with Christians and having to be the only "Christian" in the room!!!
Someone should always take the high road, but must it always be us? It is strange how often we, who do not believe in their Christ, are the ones adhering to his supposed teachings of acceptance and accommodation to those who, though professing belief in the same teachings, are unaccepting and unaccommodating towards us. Often we are the ones turning the other cheek while the lambs of Gawd cast the first stone. It is then that we must stand firm. Not to do so would be both cowardly and dishonest.
So both approaches are correct. Avoid undue conflict when you can...but be true to your beliefs and defend them, and yourself, when you must.
Posted 08 December 2006 - 10:05 PM
Yes, it should always be us. To lower yourself to their level is to kneel to childlike behavior and to do exactly what they want you to do.
Someone should always take the high road, but must it always be us?
Agreed. But it is the stance you take that is most important. To lower yourself to name calling, screaming and acting a fool only removes doubt that you are one. If you can stand calmly, quietly and with conviction while all about you others are losing their heads, you have risen above them and shown them that your beliefs are solid.
It is then that we must stand firm.
While in the employ of the government I had the wonderful opportunity to visit a beautiful south east asian country during a festive and glorious celebration we called an offensive. There was a man there. A sargeant who carried a sawed off shotgun everywhere he went. He was a quiet, serious man who spoke very softly and rarely showed any emotion. He was to this day the most frightening man I have ever met. It wasn't the gun and it wasn't the stare. It was the quiet. I saw him in a couple of firefights and what puzzled me most was his ability to remain calm and so quiet while all about him hell was breaking loose. When the smoke cleared and even before the sweep started, he would sit quietly, take out his little cleaning kit and swab out his shotgun. He would oil it, wipe it down, check the action, then reload. Then he would quietly get up and begin the sweep. My point is he was always prepared for a fight but when the actual battle began his confidence and trust in himself was always in the forefront. We should be the same. If you are prepared for the ridicule and argument when it comes, then you need not panic or yell or jump up and down. Stand firm, quietly say your piece and move on.
Posted 09 December 2006 - 06:14 PM
Thank you, Thinker.
If you are prepared for the ridicule and argument when it comes, then you need not panic or yell or jump up and down. Stand firm, quietly say your piece and move on.
After all, the idea isn't to panic or yell or jump up and down. The idea is to make the other guy panic and yell and jump up and down.
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