(Photo by Ben White)
What does that mean? To me, it means, very basically, “I don’t know and neither do you.”
I was raised in a Fundamental Baptist (IFB) house and growing up there were a lot of rules and stuff but our lives were built around Biblical literalism and legalism. These people believed they were the ‘saved of the saved’ and everyone else was bound for hell.
My time in these churches was not always bad, sometimes it was okay, but the doctrine often found its way into our home and for reasons that I won’t get into right now – made our lives hell.
But as an adult – who is still learning, who is still growing, who is still alive in the sense that I’ve recognized that asking questions is not a sign of ignorance but intelligence seeking wisdom – I’ve run into some problems.
And mostly, those problems revolved around others feeling that it is their duty to let another person know how it is they are supposed to lead their life. And – like always – it’s according to the scripture.
But what I’ve found out about these well-meaning individuals – as well as the scripture itself – is that people cherry picks out of the great holy texts anything and everything that supports THEIR world view.
If you’ve ever wondered why there are so many sects of Christianity – that’s the reason.
People have put the focus on one particular part of the Bible vs others – and that includes Biblical literalists, who in the end, aren’t really literalists at all.
They’re really really passionate about the parts of the Bible they covet – and dismiss the rest in its entirety.
My agnosticism isn’t directed toward God, however.
Just the Church(es).
Number one, I refuse to think God is a jerk. I mean think about it, if we were to ascribe all the horrific ways God is supposed to be and place that on a person. An individual. We wouldn’t have ANYTHING to do with that person. At all. As a matter of fact – hello my atheists out there – you’d get as far away from that person as you could.
Number two, I refuse to believe that after multitudes of retranslations by people (who they themselves lack perfection and who may themselves be politically motivated like King James) that a collection of oral traditions handed down generation to generation, is the 100 percent Word of God in its totality. Refuse. However, I do make a distinction between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, and even if some things got lost over the years – the spirit of it is alive and well. If you take the ARC of the Bible as a whole – God’s actually a pretty decent deity who wants to help.
Number three, I refuse to join in the cults of personality that organized religion has a really bad habit of creating. And I am not talking about The Catholic Pope. I actually think Francis is a pretty good guy mostly because he pisses off his own people as well as others. *cough Donald Trump cough*. I am talking about American Protestantism where we don’t have one Pope. We have many. You can probably think of some right off the top of your head and just like ancient feudal lords they amass these huge followings and become idols themselves.
Number four, I refuse to dictate to a person how I think they should live their life. That was one major problem I had with fundamentalism, was the Dionne Warwicks out there who could divine in their heads why a person was who they were or why they did what they did and felt the need to sit in judgment over them. If God was as infallible and omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent as they claimed he was – he knew what he had going on when it came to others. He knew. He didn’t need help, Adam and Eve, he had, has, will have, this. Essentially, you have no idea what a person is going through or has been through – and unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, you should probably shut up because you’re making an ass of yourself. And sure, they’ll point at scripture …but so did the devil when Christ was in the wilderness. Christ was also persecuted according to the old testament (because he broke a plethora of rules of the old testament) and was even, according to the old testament, cursed because he was hung on a tree. So, yep, the Old Testament curses the son of God – let that stew a bit. These people are too busy BEING GOD they’ll never hear God speak to them. Ever.
Number five, I believe that when Christ gave the MANDATE to go outfeed, clothe, and care for the weakest among us he wasn’t talking to hear himself. This wasn’t a suggestion. This was a commandment that – especially in American Christianity – is ignored because it runs counter to this marriage of capitalism and faith. Jesus is not a republican, nor is he a democrat, what I think he’d be : Is Pissed at the money changers who have great big churches and homeless people sleeping on the steps. By their fruits, ye shall know them.
Number six, ignoring Christians is not persecution. At all. Having your head chopped off or stoned to death because of your beliefs – that’s persecution. Needing to control people’s bodies and their thoughts and their lives – that’s being a persecutor. Stop being an intellectual slob, stop justifying your hatred for other people by using God. That is not a sign of great faith. That’s a sign of a LACK OF FAITH.
I’ve met people with deep abiding faith – you know what they’re like? They’re calm.
Do I think all the churches out there are bad? No. Do I believe there is enough badness in those churches to keep them in a state of self-reflection before they go out and try to condemn or save the world? Yep. Because they’re human institutions. And as long as human beings are involved – there will ALWAYS be error and sin and failure. Always.
So in the end, they’re just as lost as the rest of us. They just can’t admit it. What matters, in the end, is what has mattered in the beginning – you do the best you can, however you can, and let God handle the rest. And QUESTION EVERYTHING!