Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mourning the death of an idea (part 2)

Hebrews 10:24-2: The loss of a cohesive community

The ideas advanced by the brand of Christianity I grew up with may have been very bad, but the Christians I knew were really good people. Although I no longer accept the claims made by Christianity, I have a high amount of respect – and I still look up to – many of the religious mentors and friends I knew and still know today. They are some of the most caring, thoughtful and wise people that I know and many of them hold the same values as I do.

I will say it right now that I have no regrets growing up in the Christian groups I found myself in as a teenager and young adult (I've written about this before). I was lucky: as a shy 14 year-old, I joined the youth group of a local church and even now I consider that as was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Being part of a group that really cared for me, despite my social awkwardness, is something that changed me for the better. And I regard the stable Christian community of my youth as one of the things that successfully steered me through a turbulent adolescence.

As an atheist, I sometimes miss this support structure. One's religious identification is far more than just a private matter: it has social consequences on whether you are accepted into a group or not, and whether you can easily take advantage of resources or networks within that group, let it be emotional, social, or otherwise.

I often wonder if one of the consequences of living in a multicultural and multi-religious society is having to deal with the fragmentation of large support groups based on race, language or religion. No longer being religious, one has to concentrate on building other types of social support, through friends and family, for example.

But the sheer size and single minded vision of the Christian network - which emphasises community, support and acceptance - is something that I sometimes still miss. The warm smiles greeting me at the church door, the reaffirming of beliefs by a large group of people during praise and worship, and the cozy background chatter of friendly voices around muffins and coffee after the Sunday service. I feel a sense of loss for these things; a sense of loss for the community I left behind.

Next post: Psalm 139. The loss of fully being known.
Click here to return to Part 1 of 'Mourning the death of an idea'

13 comments:

Shirley said...

"it has social consequences on whether you are accepted into a group or not, and whether you can easily take advantage of resources or networks within that group, let it be emotional, social, or otherwise."

When I read these words you wrote, my thoughts went to my younger brother who is in his final days of pancreatic cancer. A believer, he chose to "claim a healing" at the onset of his diagnosis. This "claiming a healing" for him meant he would not accept the diagnosis. It also meant I could no longer talk about things we'd talked about for years such as "Thy will be done." He made it clear I needed to believe he was already healed, or he could not talk to me because I would be on Satan's side, not God's.

This isn't just about atheists not being able to take advantage of what believers have to offer; this is about Christians taking the Word of God and using it to their advantage which also has grave consequences, socially as well as emotionally. Rather than making this too lengthy, you might read my post I wrote after hearing Bill Mahrer talk and how I found myself in AGREEMENT with him.
http://shirley-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.com/2008/08/religionless.html

So my brother is coming to the end of his life full of his beliefs, still claiming/demanding a healing, and all alone (literally) because of his beliefs. I share this because this is one picture of the church that gives atheists reason to have nothing to do with it. Ironically, I find myself in quite a similar situation as I see the church for what it has become. Even tho I still attend, I no longer fit in because I see how we have taken the truth and distorted it to fit the lifestyles of our choice. I also realize how the truth is almost unrecognizable because of how the church has become like the government in its endeavor to "take care of all the needs of the people," and yet, the Bible is as forgotten as the Constitution.

My choice to believe that the Church is not even close to what God called it to be has put me in the same position you are in (outside looking in) ... except I don't miss resources it offers ... I don't miss the social part of it ... because there is all but no depth. Like my brother, when the crisis comes, our faith shows up for what it is, and in the church, I see more often than not, a claim to faith, but behavior no different than those who claim no faith. As Bill Mahrer says, for Christians, it's all about getting their butts saved, and I completely get what he is saying. We (generally speaking) want Heaven, we just don't want to do what is required to get there ... because most of us would have to change a whole lot about the way we behave.

It would be so sad for me to come to the end of my life and not be at peace with death even tho I know something better is yet to come ... just as it would be so sad to come to the end of my life and believe that was it; it's all over ... end of the road ... nothing more.

Sorry for the lengthiness ...

Lorena said...

It's a huge loss. I'm finding it traumatic. Lucky for me, before becoming a fundamentalist I had other associations that I'm going back to. They're far away in my homeland, though.

Purpose and Direction said...

you know, right now i may not know who i am or where i am but this i cannot argue - fellow by the name of dr. myles munroe wrote in his book: 'we are the sum total of what we see, hear and read.'

that i believe sums up all that will ever be said and read on this blog, and on any other in the entire world.

i thought of this: 'my sheep hear my voice.' - Jesus

Kevin Parry said...

Dear Purpose and direction

Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you popping by. I can agree that we are a sum total of what we see, hear and read. But the question is: is what we see, hear and read consistent with reality? That is the important question.

CyberKitten said...

KP said: But the question is: is what we see, hear and read consistent with reality?

That would depend on what you mean by 'reality'. As far as I'm concerned what you see is pretty much what you get. There is no 'higher' reality or hidden reality. This is it. Everything else is largely wishful thinking. Once you accept that everything else falls into place.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the comments, but all I know is that you need to be born from above, and baptised to complete it. In order to have the Holy Spirit guide you and reveal things as you read the word.I read some interesting comments.The more time you spend in prayer and reading, the more is being revealed. We have to stay attached to the vine, eat his flesh and drink his blood. God gives us grace, not as a covering that we might sin, but that grace gives us the ability to say no to things God is against. As long as you abide in the vine, God will keep pruning you. The prince of this world is Satan, and if he tried to get the son of God to worship him, he will surely influence our thought life, and create situations for doubting, because if you have been saved, the spiritual battle is on. I'm like most people, not as bold as I would like to be, to stand on His word, promises. Jesus said these things you will do and greater. We need to seek the presence of the Lord/Holy Spirit, and expect wonders signs and miracles as we preach the good news. There are too many preachers, just words, head knowledge. Read some books by Smith Wigglesworth or look at Azusa st miracles. Dare to believe. It is our job to try get more people saved. Happy are the feet of those who preach the good news. No one knows the hour. Not many wise enter in. Narrow is the way and Jesus said I am the way. Satan only comes to kill and destroy, afflict etc. God is love, and we love Him because He first loved us. Sometimes things don't always go as we hope , or as what we pray for, and it really shakes your belief. We haven't got all the answers. God's will, not ours.

Anonymous said...

Someone's comment:
(I thought of this:'my sheep hear my voice.Jesus)...
What am I? A goat?If Jesus said anything to me in my life I didn't find it comforting!
I was very involved in my church,did anything for God,even what all the others didn't want to do.I thought I was being a good servant of God,sure? Basically going to church,studying the bible has messed me up big time...all the scriptures,promises etc are all BS.Jesus has never cared about me( please don't tell me crap that he does) and from what I can see he cares nothing for alot of people who even believe in him!I at one time loved him very much but I have no love for him anymore!I cannot bring myself to love a God who doesn't even help people but sits and watches suffering.(please don't tell me he is sad either)If we as humans sat around on our butts and watched suffering but did nothing we would be cruel!What is Jesus doing when some child or baby is being raped,beaten to death and thrown in a bush not to be found.Poor Jesus..was he sad at that time and wept ? Maybe he didn't help because he couldn't see through his tears..isn't he our example to follow?No wonder people stand around and watch and do nothing when someone is being hurt ect.. I do everything to help others and even put myself in harms way to. I show love to others,I give so much of myself to others, and here I am alone,have nothing to look forward to and always being used or rejected and crushed and the sick thing is these so called people are CHRISTIANS !! They are so puffed up that even when they treat someone hurtful or uncaring....or when they are selfish etc.....they still think they are great !!!
I treat others better than most Christians.Why is God going to burn me in hell just because I do not believe his words which never seem to be truthful..with no back up !!
God's neglect of me when I needed him has made me stop caring and loving him...but not only this..I am ending my life and very soon...I am not crying out for help just making a firm statement here. I do not enjoy life being hurt all the time,being lonely,empty,coming home to an empty house with no affection,no conversation, just wanting to belong to one person who adores me and wants to be with me and loves me. I am 47 and I feel too old to be here anymore...I wake up to noting but the pain and tears of rejection and being unloved...and lonely... can some pill fix this ? NO it cannot !
Like I said I have friends...but it is not the same as the love I long for.I am planning to end it very soon,not giving anyone any clues of it.I am NOT selfish either,I am tired!I watch other enjoying love and companionship,affection and I crave it so deeply. I was rejected by someone for wrong reasons...I was the caring and loving one( in action)he was all talk and no action and he was the one who went on and on about loving me.He pulled me in deeper and deeper talking about marriage and babies with me then walked away because he wanted freedom to come and go without thinking of another person.(selfishness)he keep going on about how Godly he is,how good he is and how it is me who messed things up..and still says he cares...but never talks to me barely and makes excuses.I guess this is how Christians treat people ? Take alot but give little!I am done being hurt,it is so comforting to know I can stop all this and end it!!No more waking up crying and waiting to get hurt again...or being alone in life, being blamed!!If I end up in hell I am used to it as my life is hell now and why would I want to spend eternity with an unloving God anyway??Jesus died for us 2000 years ago but cares nothing about us now??Makes no sense at all !! What a shame that a so called loving God would rather people suffer and hurt than just help them ??Then when we end our lives because of it He sends us to burn in hell ?? How Merciless !!

Anonymous said...

One more thing I did go to church to met friends...I got acquaintances only..no one had time for friendship or companionship....no one ever called me to see how I was even when I was needing help....and most of the time it was telling to to read more scripture or pray more...or make me feel punished by God for something etc...they were friendly at church basically but after church no where to be found ! They must live in a bubble or something ! I look around at church and I see dirty look at someone who is poor and not nicely dressed..I see people who think they are so Godly at church who show off expensive cloths etc...while snickering at those who have little or are even mentally ill ect...I have seen some care more for how the church looked then using it to help the needy. I have seen alot ! Why would I go back > it is like this at all churches...and if you do not believe what they believe they treat you different. I do not go anymore..and soon removing my name from the church all together... Instead of taking time to punish us non believers why doesn't God just deal with his fake followers ???

Anonymous said...

Reveal his words to us ?? Do you mean brainwashing us so we do what he says without delay like robots ? We are ants and one day he will crush us under his feet !! We are prey !! What I learned from putting all my time into his words was that nothing it says is ever truthful and His promises are never truthful(except hell and punishment ) I had to let go of the vine because it was strangling me..imaging being strangled by the God you loved and followed ?? That is what happened to me ! Wait.. I should be more grateful...thank you God for my alcoholic home growing up..loved the abandonment and being hit...thank you for not helping me get out of that situation as a small child but leaving me there...look what you made me now ?? A child becomes just like me ! Amen dear God ! Christian mentors had no answers.. so they avoided me and just told me to read more scriptures and pray....and they made me feel bad for how I feel....

Quinton Christie said...

does anybody still read this? I have a lot to say, but One needs to know there is an audience.......

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just stumbled on this blog, very interesting. Is there part 3-6 coming up on what you miss about christianity please???

Kevin Parry said...

Hi Anon. Don't worry; I'm still around :-) This year has been extremely hectic for me, as I'm busy reading for my Masters and currently working through some life changes. But I'm planning to finish this series soon. So watch this space!

Purpose and Direction said...

somebody once asked: 'what is truth?' ...I noticed that he did not wait for the answer.