Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Framework, or some of where I am coming from

Imagine this.

A ten year old girl, going to sleep away camp for the first time. Being adventurous, the camp chosen is far out in the rural countryside, a world away from the city and suburbs that the girl knows. Before arriving at the camp, she knows no one else there. Adjustment is not easy, but since most of the girls at the camp come from the same area, she finds a friend or two. One day, the campers go on a field trip, to the local County fair. This being a bygone and far more innocent age, the campers did not have to walk through the fair in long strings, holding hands and counting off. Everyone wore shirts identifying them as from the camp, and as long as everyone showed up at the appointed place and time for attendance checks, the girls were free to wander.

Our girl visited the chickens and admired the 4-H rabbits, and then walked through the area with the craft and souvenir tables. Passing one table, a woman called out "Camp girl, do you know Jesus?" (yes, she actually called out "camp girl." damn t-shirt.) Politely, the girl answered "No, I'm Jewish." At which point, the woman came out from behind the table, along with 3 other people (2 other women, 1 man) and surrounded the girl. There was talk of Jesus dying for someones sins, even though she and her people killed him. There was talk of hellfire. There was no sense of personal space for the girl, nor any space between the sentences for her to speak, even if she had any idea of how to respond to this.

This is not the behavior of people sharing good news. This is the behavior of predators.

Finally, one of the camp counselors appeared, as the girl had missed one of the check-ins. At the sight of an approaching adult in a camp t-shirt, the girls hands were shoved full with pamphlets, "your mother will want them" she was told, and the 4 people went back behind their table. Needless to say, the counselor wanted to know what was going on, and as the girl and the counselor rejoined the rest of the people from the camp, the girl told the story. There was a bit of shrugging, but as the girl didn't get in trouble for missing check in, she was relieved.

During the car ride back to the camp, the driver (a local employee of the camp) stopped short and suddenly at an intersection. She then started joking about all the near accidents she has had over the years while driving campers and how even the "little Jewish girls" would start saying their rosaries. How she always had a extra one with her, "just in case one of them wanted one." She seemed to be completely convinced that she was being amusing.

This was not the behavior of a "born again fundie" but it was the behavior of someone whose religion and belief hold complete disdain (at best) for someone who does not believe as they do.

After Jason posted his Father Matthew video,
he professed surprise at the reactions he got to the post. While I can't speak for anyone else, my reaction, first and foremost was to this line: "Certainly among non-Christians, there is nothing that makes them less comfortable than the idea of Evangelism. The fact is though that it is a duty of Christians to evangelize."

Uncomfortable? Now why would you think that might be?

The video is not actually about evanglizing or reaching out to non-Christians, but rather counteracting, amongst Christians the onslaught of the fundamentalist movement. To which all I can say is: fine, clean your own house, and then we will talk about my discomfort.

Oh-and the reaction of the mother of the girl to this story and the pamphlets? Do you know the phrase "Hell has no fury...?"


Rufus Opus said...

Ahem, er... well.

Sorry about that. It wasn't right, and while I'm sure you know now they were just fucking idiots, and that their lives were inevitably made worse by their stupidity and they've doubtless suffered for it in many ways... I'm still sorry for what "my people" did to you.

Lavanah said...

Thank you, RO, that is gracious. But as the second incident in the story involved a woman who was clearly Catholic, not one of "your people" the problem isn't any one division of Christianity, or possibly Christianity at all. The problem is the requirement to share your belief with those who do not hold it.

Rufus Opus said...

They're my people too.


The "requirement" was supposed to be to spread the "good news" that whatever people thought separated them from their Source was gone forever, and that God could be a friend. A friend, like he was with Moses and Enoch and Adam.

Everything else is bullshit.

Norma said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you. It's disgusting when people bully kids, for any reason at all. It's horrible when people bully anyone with religion. There's no denying that.

K(Banterings of a Basketcase) said...

Gosh, I am on the fence about this- My brother is a good example of Christianity- he "spreads the word" by hosting Bible classes for his students that wish to come. He leads a good life, is fair to other people, and discusses this way of life with reference to the Bible. He doesn't force feed jesus to people. He does believe his religion is the true one. He does still see value and love in living as a follower of another religion and will not dispute your religion. We have had many talks about me being Pagan. I have never felt pushed or abused.

however, I was pissed the other day- one of my facebook "friends" posted a scripture about how bad people deny God- and how everyne should repost this as their status. I asked "which God" to stir up a little debate. He answered the one and only. I answered- "really? you are passive aggressively insulting your friends who are jewish, hindu, muslim, pagan, etc"- after that he said nothing but his other X-tian friends chimed in with other bible verses. I don't believe in the bible, so how's that going to appease me?

anyway- They can share their love of God and live as examples without shoving it down others throats. Or even trying to sell it. But religion has become a business, and the salespeople are somehow on heavenly commission.

Amy said...

I wish I was shocked... this behavior is not only reprehensable, but so not in accord with what the bible says a man named Jesus taught. IF one believes in Jesus, and IF one wishes to follow his teachings, the confrontation you describe is unquestionably ANTI Chirstian. If one wanted to discredit Christianity, that would be the way to do it... APPALLING

Jason Miller, said...

These episodes are absolutely appalling. They ARE the result of a corrupt view of God and Religion. I just the other day picked up a little book on "Spiritual Warfare" that they had at CVS and it was all about how a Christian must HATE the evil of other religions.

Terrible stuff and most definately anti-christian. If you read the Sermon on the Mount I really cannot see how people go on with this aggressive trash.

On the topic of sharing being a requirement, you need to frame it in the right context. Up until that time, almost every religion on earth was about being the god or gods of a certain special people or race or culture. This was the first time in this region of the world that people were saying "This is about Love for all of mankind. God does not require the following of all these arcane rules for love. You do not need to earn Gods love by being good. God loves you already because HE is good."

At the time, most religions were heavily reliant upon blood sacrifice to appease the dieties. Christianity was saying "This is not necessary anymore because the ultimate sacrifice has been made for you".

It was not supposed to be about forcing your way on others by the sword, nor about forcing conversion of pagans. It was simply about sharing an idea that you think is good for the world.

In some cases the ideas of Christianity spread the religion. In other cases the ideas spread and effected other religions. Pure Land Buddhism and the very concept of Maitreya for instance is a direct result of encountering Christianity.

If your experiences have soured you on the very concept of sharing religious ideas, than I am deeply deeply sorry.

I still however see nothing wrong with telling people "Hey we have got a good thing here and it would be selfish not to let others know about it".

Lavanah said...

Jason, I've been waiting for your response to this, and it is as I expected-well thought out, with back up for your opinion and stated dispassionately. But we still come down to the same positions. The line between "Hey we have got a good thing here and it would be selfish not to let others know about it" and having someone elses belief pushed on you looks very different depending on which side of the line you are on.
The divide between my going and asking questions of someone, in order to learn, and having someone else decide that I should know about something is quite large. And, alas, my experiences are not unusual at all.

David said...

That happened to me once at a boy scout camp in Oregon. It really got on my nerves so I actually got up and said something when we were asked to "share". :)