Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Point lost

I think the point was lost in the (admitted) pathos of the previous post. My experiences were not unusual, but unless you have lived in non-Christian communities in this country, you would probably not be aware of such happenings. And, by non-Christian, I am not referring to the "we are Pagan, but we have a Christmas tree, only, you know, we call it a Yule tree, community." I am speaking of the Jewish communities, the Bahai, the Hindu, the Muslim, perhaps the Buddhist (I currently have no experience with intact, distinct Pagan communities in the mode of the others I've refered to, so I am not including them here.)

The problem with the concept of evangelism is that it is seen from the side of the "giver." "Ooh, look what I have to share!" There is no space available in the concept to ask whether the recipient is a willing one. And, no matter how enlightened, how "unpushy" some people may be in their beliefs, the history of humanity has shown that eventually, it becomes not "look what I have to share" but "you will take it, whether you want to, or not."

I made mention in one of my comments on another blog about the different versions of the Golden Rule. There are two (in English, at any rate) that I am aware of. The more common one: Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You. (attributed to Jesus, via Matthew)
and: Do Not Do Unto Others As You Would Not Have Them Do Unto You (attributed to Hillel)

So now I am curious. How many people are there who disagree with me and are neither Christian, nor of Christian background or heritage?


Anonymous said...

Isn't that exactly what the pastor in the original video was saying? That many people use evangelism as a weapon, and that's very, very wrong?

And I find your statement that "no matter how enlightened" evangelists might be, there's still no hope for any sort of respectful evangelism -- so, so sad. This whole conversation is depressing the hell out of me.

Anonymous said...
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Jason Miller, said...

Since you asked for non-christian comments, perhaps I shouldnt chime in, but I think you encapsulated the point that we disagree on very well.

You write:

"There is no space available in the concept to ask whether the recipient is a willing one."

I disagree. I think that it is pretty easy to tell when someone is open to a discussion or not. I think there is definitely room in the concept.

Even if you mistake that, you can tell within a sentence or two if someone is open or not. If you realize that they are not, than back off, what is the harm?

If you are pushing it anyway than you are doing it wrong and violating the spirit of what it is about and what Father Matthew was trying to say.

Lavanah said...

My request for comments by the non-Christian community was not meant to muzzle everyone else, I was just specifically reaching out for those opinions.

You say/ask Jason, " can tell within a sentence or two if someone is open or not. If you realize that they are not, than back off, what is the harm?" My response is that there is harm, very small perhaps but incremental and a lifetime of smiling and saying "thanks but no thanks" builds quite a heavy load.

Patrick, I would love to be proven wrong-I just don't think it is likely. Father Matthew and those working with him have to work against the weight of history and much of his co-religionists first.

K(Banterings of a Basketcase) said...

yeah- I understand what you are saying!` its~"I really didnt ask you about your god or religion, nor did my conversation or merely being there even bait you to talk about your religions- so why are you trying to stuff your god down my throat?" I feel this way every x-mas with the whole signs in the window thing- and people telling me Merry X-mas-
Even wiccans have a golden rule- whatever evil or good you do will return back 3 times
whats cool is that my brother, who is x-tian- doesnt do that.

K(Banterings of a Basketcase) said...

BTW- I get really bitter around Yule- because people assume since I am buying a tree (which is a pagan thing) and other pagan decor- they assume I must be celebrating their holiday.

Lavanah said...

Hmm, K (Banterings of a Basketcase), while I understand your feelings, that is a bit of a different topic. The right of a culture to publicly celebrate a cultural event (and all the public Christmas stuff is far more cultural than religious, despite any origins) is a different discussion from the right of an individual to be free of unasked for religious "help."

Dr. Raven said...

I've followed this blog for a bit so I hope you don't mind me commenting :-).

I don't come from a Christian background and actually identify myself as a hermetic more than anything else.

Personally, I don't mind people coming up to me to proselytize, because to me it is interesting. I've got degrees in history and the history of religion so I find such attempts fascinating and opportunities to learn more.

I think the problem lies in the fact that the people who are often doing evangelizing these days are those people who come to the religion bringing with them their psychological insecurities and fears. This often translates into condescending aggressive evangelizing. However these people are attracted to the religion because Christianity offers comfort to them and they really don't do the faith any justice, just like how fundamentalists and radicals of any faith fail to do those respective religions justice.

Lavanah said...

I certainly do not mind your commenting. And while I admittedly hoped for opinions that coincided with mine, I am reasonable enough to not expect "well of course" that all opinions would fall in line with my own. And your opinion should lighten Patricks depression on the subject abit, that's a plus. :)

The conversation keeps returning to the aggressive evangelizing/prostelytizing of the fundamentalists. But my question (continually being refined, I will admit)is: Where is the balance between the requirement of a Christian to evangelize and the right of someone not Christian to be free of the precepts of a religion not his/hers?

Harold Roth said...

I personally take the "this is good news that I've got to share with everyone" as offensive and as fundamentally arrogant. Guess what: My good news is just as good and what's more, it's been just as good for an additional 2000 years. It is not something that was superseded by your good news. The idea that Christianity was somehow "progress" over Judaism remains a part of Christianity, as we have seen Jason put it forward himself. This attitude--that Christianity is better than other religions because it requires nothing of its practitioners except belief or mere existence--is to me incredibly retrograde and irresponsible. It also displays a profound lack of knowledge about the history of Judaism and the various practices that were part of it when Jesus supposedly walked. The Pharisees that are so damned in the Gospels were precisely the people who were working to substitute the study house for the temple, prayer for the sacrificial cult, IOW, a personal relationship with God over a material one. But this doesn't fit into the Christian idea that they invented "Love"--a "love" that damns millions of people to a hell of eternal damnation, which was also their peculiar invention, but they don't mention that.

I remember how someone I worked with asked me a "test" question about if I died, what would I tell God about why I should be let into heaven. To cut it very short, I said that I would say I tried to live a good life, follow the commandments, practice charity, and not hurt anyone. You know what her response was? "Unless you say you are saved by Jesus, you are damned." I said, "you mean to tell me that you can be a murderer and a Simon Legree your whole life and go to heaven because you are saved? What the hell kind of religion is that?" I hate to tell you people this, but this woman was an Episcopalian.

I have not got one single jot of sympathy for any Christian who complains that he is looked down upon or sneered at in the occult community for being Christian. Try being kept out a college for being Christian. Try not being allowed to hold public office for being Christian. Try not being allowed to stay in a hotel or motel for not being Christian. Try being kept out of particular neighborhoods for being Christian. Try being turned into soap for being Christian. Try that, and then maybe you will have something to complain about, but until then, please, have one single speck of humility and shut the fuck up about your oppressionl.

Harold Roth said...
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Harold Roth said...
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Lavanah said...

I want to apologize for blog comments appearing multiple times, it appears that blogger and I are having a difference of opinion.

Harold, sweetheart, I will respond to your comment, most likely this evening, when I have a little time to put the words together.

Lavanah said...

Harold, thank you for your anger (I do not do hot anger very well). The examples you bring up are exactly what I was thinking of, when I referred to the weight of history (and it is far from a complete list). And the statements that "we wouldn't do it that way" carry no weight, as far as I am concerned. I am all for learning-and the western magical traditions are nothing if not Christian in orientation, and yet I study them, by my choice and for my purposes. But the requirement of evangelizing is the requirement to hold those of another religion to the requirements of Christianity. That, I cannot contenance.

I keep hearing about hatred for Christians among the magical and Pagan communities. I must be even more picky about the company that I keep than I realized-it seems such a very uncommon thing to me.

Jason Miller, said...

There is no requirement to hold those of another religion to Christianity. Indeed it is a requirement of Christianity NOT to Judge others.

There is a requirement not to keep your spiritual views to yourself. The requirement is to share, not to be pissed if people do not like what you have to say or hold people accountable or threaten them with hell or any of the other things that the very video that sparked this debate was actually arguing against.

Jason Miller, said...


I think a lot of Christians see it is a natural progression from Judaism. Early emphasis was quite a bit on the tribes following specific rules and sacrifices. By the time prophets like Jerimiah and Ezekiel and Isaiah were making prophesy it was clear that YHVH was moving towards a more personal relationship with individuals.

Hell as modern fundamentalists, and sadly also most other Christians, understand it was never supposed to look like a place that you go for eternity if you dont believe in Jesus. While most Christians DO sadly believe that, most theologians and Chruch Leaders do not. More and more I see this concept being argued against within the church.

As for this lady who was an Episcopalean, what can I say? She was a sucky Episcopalean. You don't have any sucky Jews?

Harold Roth said...

Oh, I've heard badmouthing of Christianity, but since Christians do not actually ever experience any prejudice, a critical remark looms much larger for them than it would for someone who has experienced real prejudice.

The thing that makes me angry is the ignorance, especially of history, which might be wilful ("books can't teach me anything") but more often arises out of sheer laziness, confining one's research into history to websites, for instance. But there is also the ignorance of one's own ideological assumptions and how those assumptions affect one's view of the world. The idea was put forward to me recently that the Kabbalah belongs to Jews and non-Jews alike and that it was not a uniquely Jewish creation. First, the people making these statements didn't know anything about actual history--and they didn't care, because for them, history is just a servant to their beliefs and prejudices. But more importantly, they could not see that their beliefs about Kabbalah are nothing more than Christian ideology in action. They were doing to Kabbalah exactly what Christianity had done to the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call The Old Testament in that adorably arrogant way of theirs: take another group's sacred text, say "this was always REALLY ours," and reinterpet it "correctly." There is no consciousness of this sort of thing at all amongst Christians, because most of them have never examined their own assumptions. Okay, fine, but is not such self-examination supposed to be part of becoming a mage?

And I am sorry, but Christians do not get to say "But we did stole from you with respect." It's not yours. Don't take it. Isn't that something we all learn in kindergarten? If you want to learn about a text, learn about the world that produced it. That is the way of respect.

And now, "We just want to share the good news." First, sharing involves the consent of everyone involved, i.e., it involves respect. Respect and evangelizing are mutually exclusive. I've been the target of evangelizing many times, and every single time it has cost the evangelizer any respect I might have had for them, because their actions showed that they had absolutely no respect for my path and my work at all. I had to ask myself why these people did this. Because getting out the "good news" implies the superiority of the bringer, that's why. We see that assumption of superiority in Jason's remarks about how he believes in the Christian myth that Christianity was superior to other religions in the world because it is a religion of "love" and Jesus is your buddy. And that superiority and triumphalism has been part of Christianity for many hundreds of years. It is not unique to fundie wackos. There is no other religion that I know of that goes around evangelizing. The very word is based upon the name of a Christian holy book.

I am fed up with Christian arrogance and a general ignorance of history being pimped around like everyone should be fine with it. How in the world is anyone supposed to take people seriously when they are so ignorant? It is astounding to me.

Alphonsus said...

Some of you say that there's no predigious amongst Christians. Trust me there is. I'm the only Catholic among an entire family of Protestants. All are fundamentalists. Some of the hard-shelled Southern Baptist twist, and others of the Non-Denominational stripe. And everyone's trying to "evangelize" each other. ALL sneer at Catholics. We still get accused of all sorts of occult practices. And of being mindless followers. I'm as tolerant and open-minded as the next guy, and love discussing differences in beliefs with people. But fundamentalists truly put the MENTAL in fundamental. I usually try to avoid discussion with them due to the fact that they go raging against any sort of logic.

Alphonsus said...

When it comes to evangelisation I follow St. Francis di Assizi's advice, "Preach the Gospel, always. And when necessary, use words."

ASTHORE said...

I actually come from a christian background and went to a christian High School. The bible class had a section on actually taught that if the conversation led you to evangelize than that's great but if it didn't it didn't.
The teacher labored under the belief, with some good scriptures to back it up, that it wasn't the persons job to find the people to evangelize to. It was the work of the Holy Spirit to get them to ask questions.
I'm no longer a believer but this really was a great class in my opinion.