Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Send in the Clown

Sometimes I feel like I'm a bit of a clown. I don't even like clowns so I don't like the feeling. Being a Christian is pretty fab. I get to enjoy the real hope that this world isn't it, I get to enjoy the belief that I am forgiven for my sins, I get to enjoy a bond stronger than a family bond with total strangers just through knowing that they share my faith. I begin to experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.. However, the slight downside is that I get to feel like I'm a clown, sometimes. Sometimes, for example, as I read the venom of some atheists on their blogs, the thing that comes through is that they think we are really STUPID. Of course this sort of stuff certainly encourages that viewpoint, and makes me cringe.

And yet, that's my lot as a Christian. Sometimes I will be viewed as a clown. God's wisdom is different from man's wisdom. Sometimes I spout my own "wisdom" and it deserves to be seen as foolish, as per the cringe-making comments in the link at the end of the last paragraph. But I believe that when I do occasionally hit the mark and utter not my own "wisdom" but God's, it will also attract derision and scorn. I believe that is the case because of my own experience, because of the kind of vitriol I see on some atheistic blogs directed against brave Christians who put their head above the parapet to comment (disagreement's fine but there's no need to be rude, as I tell my kids) and because I know lots of us experience it.

I do accept it's my lot, and I accept it cheerfully knowing that clowns do bring amusement to others! They laughed at Jesus and mocked him too. So it's okay. "If anyone among you thinks that he is wise by this world's standards, he should become a fool, in order to be really wise. For what this world considers to be wisdom is nonsense in God's sight" (1 Corinthians 3:18,19)


Mr. Nighttime said...

As someone who is, by the strictest definition of the word, and atheist, this is my take on things.

First, I do not deride anyone for having faith, or their belief in God, in whatever form it may take. I do not believe in a literal God, but rather I do like the idea of an impersonal, transcendent source of all life that we as humans simply cannot grasp. (Something that we see in Hinduism, and several other belief systems, as well as many aboriginal cultures.) For me, God is simply a metaphor for that idea. There are things that both science and religion have no answer, and may never have an answer. Heaven and hell? For me they are metaphorical for psychological states of being rather than physical locations where I will spend my time after the mortal coil has shuffled off to Buffalo.

Now that said, what irks me is when those with a very deep faith deride me for not having any. It can work in both directions you know. There are those in the Christian community who would, and have damn me to hell for:

A)Having abandoned God vis-a-vis having abandoned my Judaism, and

B)Telling me that even if I retained my Jewish faith, I would still be damned to hell for not accepting Jesus as my personal savior.

So, I am basically in a Catch-22; damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Faith and religion, in my view, are very personal aspects of one's life. Just as I don't have the right to deride another's faith, I don't believe that those with faith have the right to deride me for having none.

I also do not believe that any one religion has the whole take on truth, though there are many that profess to be the "one true religion." Even in Christianity, how many sects do we see at war with one another, literally and/or figuratively, on the idea of who is following the "true gospel."

No, I don't think devout Christians are stupid. There is enough stupidity in this world amongst believers and non-believers alike.

"Stupid is as stupid does." as Forrest Gump would say. If your belief brings you peace and comfort, and joy, then that is great. I look for, and find those things outside of the sheath of religion, and I find them through my own life experience.

Mr. Nighttime said...

P.S. I must learn not to post at this ungodly hour of the morning after having worked until 3 am, as the grammatical mistakes on my post are making my eyeballs scream in pain.......

AnneDroid said...

Thanks mr. n, for most interesting comment, and sorry about your screaming eyeballs.

In reply first of all I have NEVER felt that you have treated me with anything but respect so I hope you didn't feel included in my wee rant. (I was just reflecting on my experience reading some atheist blogs (and the comments particlarly). Even an atheist friend says she had noticed it too so I don't think it's just my paranoia!).

We are half in agreement re God. Like you I believe in a "transencent source of all life that we as humans simply cannot grasp" and I love that description.

However I part company over the "impersonal" bit. As you know I believe, paradoxically, that that transcendent and mysterious God actually does love us and want to be in a father-child type relationship with us, and I believe that Jesus has made that possible. I believe I have experienced the reality of that.

Whilst respecting totally people of all faiths, I won't surrender the right of free speech for us Christians to try when we have the chance, graciously, and when appropriate, to share gently what we believe to be really good news re the promises of God, knowing, as we do so, we appear clown-like!

And of course I also respect the position of my Muslim and my atheist friends and I am quite sympathetic to their desire to persuade me, graciously, and when appropriate, that I'm wrong and they're right!

I hate to hear you say Christians have derided you and damned you to hell. The latter certainly isn't the prerogative of the mere human and the former is just rude and ungracious. But I know it goes on and was acknowledging that by posting the cringeworthy link I posted above, even though it's embarrassing.

Mr. Nighttime said...

Just curious, but have you ever read the works of Joseph Campbell? I think you would find him interesting.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Sigh, Anne. This post really hits home. I was raised in a very fundamentalist church, and even though I moved on decades ago, I still cringe when I read or hear some of these types of statements. When I clicked n that link of the top 100 statements, what i read made my skin crawl.

I don't struggle with being ashamed of the Christian label, but I do try very hard to make sure people know that I'm "not like them." It's a lack of love on my part. I find it easier to love people with doubts than people with their kind of certainty.

I don't know where I'm going with this comment. Just reacting free-form. Hope you don't mind.