I haven’t blogged much in the last year, but I’ve kept reading and observing. I’ve had a front-row seat to the anti-evangelical-post-evangelical-postmodern discussion online, in all its de-churched fury, passion and emotiveness.
Some of it is very thoughtful and important.
Some of it is just stupid.
And here’s why.
If we don’t like the way we were treated somewhere, that doesn’t make it okay to treat the offender the same way. Doing so just proves we’re all criminally selfish at heart.
If we don’t like the lack of sound reasoning used among the more superstitious religionists, that doesn’t excuse our own indulgences with subpar thinking, paparazzi-style commentary, and pseudo-refutation. Those things are about knee-jerking, sense of entitlement and self-justification. Oh, and wanking. Not making a better world.
You’re either A or you’re not-A. Sticking a “religious” label on other people doesn’t make them not-people, and sticking a “post-religious” label on oneself doesn’t make one a fashionable rebel. People are people are people. Intellectual, spiritual and social institutions are just toys we build for displaying our peopleness, whether for better or for worse.
The question is whether we’re going to be decent people who critique ideas intelligently, or jerks who rant about religious topics as if the current-day, American context and interpretive lens is the only one that informs the meaning of sacred texts.
The other question is whether we’re going to have respect for people and assign an inherent value to them, regardless of what institutions they’re mired in. That value can come from a spiritual belief or a humanist social contract; it doesn’t matter a whole lot, pragmatically. What matters is how well it’s lived out.
And I don’t care much who you are, very few people’s claimed belief–agnostic, secular humanist or traditional religion–is worth much when they have the safety of a computer screen and a keyboard to shield them from having to look others in the face.
Because the internet is one more toy we’ve built for displaying our peopleness. And it has perhaps the clearest mirror lens of any. In a cloud of pseudonymous jerk-offs, no one has to see themselves individually reflected there…and so the resulting portrait of wankage is far too revealing, all the while everyone thinks it’s gotta be someone else.
Being human means being a little bit of everything. We are all part jerk (some more than others). We are all partly in awe of existence at one time or another. We all wonder what’s the meaning and purpose of life. We are all partly lost and partly angry.
Right, then. So much for the sad, sad song played by tiny violins. That doesn’t make it okay to take it out on others, no matter how sweetly or subtly.
Religion can be far too sweet and subtle, especially when it’s asking us to be good, nice people who use positive language all the freaking time. Hi-diddly-ho, neighbour.
But so can other alleged enlightenments. And yes, I have seen people contorted, pushed, pulled, manipulated and rejected in order to feed post-evangelical egos and agendas. There is a lot of self-justification out there. A lot of pomposity.
When ideology matters more than people, there is no moral high ground.
Sometimes, though, there’s the recognition that it’s not okay to hurt others for ideology.
Of any kind.
Because if you’re a Christian, then people are the only thing you can take with you to heaven.
And if you’ve been hurt by religion, you should understand a thing or two about pain.
And if you despise religion, you might consider the power and value of compassion for those involved in it. Compassion, not patronization.
According to the sacred texts, Jesus Christ was crucified by religionists and secularists alike. He said this: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Whether you call it history or a fable, the principle is sound.