Posts Tagged ‘christianity’


Long Road to Glory



Where you suppose seems a good place to start personal essays. Many personal essays that do not launch into anecdotes often start with supposing. Possibly because it is better to suppose than to think, and the world is full of people who simply think.  But this essay is entirely about what I suppose, and how I wrestle with it internally, and how that effects my perception of hundreds of issues that one can’t avoid in today’s world.

I suppose Fundamentalist Christians are the devil, if I believe the narrative outside of Christian circles today. This of course is the most negative way to view it, a more positive spin is that Fundamentalist Christians are just narrow-minded, anti-scientific, anti-scholarly, and more often than not, white middle-class, middle-Americans.

I listened to an episode of This American Life today from 2005 called “Godless America,” on the subject of these “Fundamentalist Christians.” Now, I can’t nail down exactly what comprises an FC, but I gathered that if something can be seriously expressed by someone with a southern accent, it is probably an FC position. The episode dealt with two issues; the Separation of Church and State from a “Christian” perspective, and the ridiculousness of the Bible.

These are issues that I could address in length; but that would just be me opining on subjects on which I do not have any educated opinion to share, which is not good for anyone. Listening to stories in the episode stirred up in me feelings that I’m not sure I know an easy answer for.

My wife, God bless her, listened to me ramble and process on the way home from work, so if these thoughts have any clarity at all, you can write her and thank her.

The turmoil in me regards multiple facets of what it means to be a Christian in the now world. While the central doctrines of Christianity remain the same throughout the ages, and the Gospel is the rock upon which faith is built; there is no denying that every day what it means to live as Christian changes, as well as what it means to live out the Gospel. It may be subtle day to day, but over centuries it changes radically.

Take for example slavery, which seems incomprehensible to the modern Christian but was a given part of life to most Christians and most of society  just 200 years ago. Times change. 

Today abortion is legal in America, much to the chagrin of Fundamentalist Christians. Now, I don’t think I’m a Fundamentalist Christian, but it saddens me that abortion is legal in America. I am most definitely pro-life, since the two sides to the issue are pro-life and pro-choice. 

This is where the episode of This American Life that I listened to comes into play. To explain, I must slightly digress from abortion. The episode dealt with separation of Church and State; how to Fundamentalist Christians the problem is that the norm in modern society is keeping Church out of State, when from their point of view the idea of the constitution was to keep the State out of the Church. There are reasonable cases for this view.

The scholar on This American Life (whose name escapes me) made the case that while our founding fathers were Christians and God-fearing men, they strove to craft a constitution that intentionally left out all mentions of God. Furthermore, he pointed out that when the constitution went up for ratification in the 13 colonies, it was very nearly defeated in multiple states for being “Godless.” Most controversial was Article Six, which says that there can be no religious test for holding public office. Many states had religious tests in place, and many people argued that there should be a religious test for public office. 

Thankfully the constitution as drafted was ratified, and we have the incredible document that exists today. The speaker made the point that it is ironic how back then, it was the critics of the document who said it was “Godless,” and now the charge is that it is “Christian” but being twisted as “Godless.” Now there are a myriad of issues that spring from this debate, but I want to focus on what the founders did, and why it was so incredible.

By fastidiously creating a document that does not mention God, these men created a document that incorporated the beliefs of their personal faiths in such a way that even if the nation fell away from Christianity, it would still be built upon facets of the Christian faith. Even more incredibly, their attention to detail meant that the document reflected their faith, but transcended Christianity to apply to all people. This is typically known as Natural Law; truths that may personally spring from a personal faith but are expressed in universal, natural terms so that no one can attack them for being “exclusive.” 

The brilliance of the Constitution is that the view of man and government it expresses sprang from the authors’ understanding of man and Government as dictated by their personal faiths, but that view was expressed in universal, natural terms that could not be argued on purely religious grounds.

Arguably, this is the greatest test of truth in a religion; if the truths that derive from that religions narrative and worldview fall in line with the world at large. If reality does not fit into religion; in other words if the large narratives of life cannot be explained by the meta-narrative, then obviously something is wrong with the meta-narrative.

The founders were able to take the truths of their meta-narrative and derive from it principles that applied to all people. They then expressed those truths in non-religious terms so that the truths could truly be self-evident.

When it comes to Abortion (and many other issues dear to the Fundamentalist Christians), we fail on the natural law front. Now, as my wife pointed out to me earlier, it is not that there are significant groups out there who approach these issues on a natural law level, because there are those groups, but the issue at large has become a Christian issue. 

Today in America there is pro-choice – which seems to be most people who aren’t practicing Catholics or Fundamentalist Christians, and pro-life, which are the people who are in those categories. And overall, the pro-life people’s main agenda is to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

The turmoil I face is that deep down, I don’t give a damn about Roe vs. Wade. Even if we were ever able to overturn it; within a few decades it would be reversed, and so on and so forth. The fact is, in America a significant portion of the population does not understand why it’s such a big deal to have readily available abortions. In fact, it seems downright medieval to not have them available. 

But all the time I find myself hanging my head at how the abortion issue is presented to that portion of the population. Murder! we yell, which it is to us, but not to them. Sin! we yell, which it is to those of us who believe in this theological idea of sin. Doom! we yell, because it is coming if we do not support the sanctity of all life in this country.

But Roe vs. Wade is not the thing that destroyed the sanctity of life in this country. And reversing that decision will not really change anything except the law. And the fact that it’s come down to a pro-life vs. pro-choice issue is a shame on not the Godless liberals, but the Fundamentalist Christians who are trying to convert the world to a Christian worldview via laws.

My frustration is that we haven’t attacked the issue with the care that the founding fathers handled the future of the nation they began. The Fundamentalist Christian response has been a 30-odd year battle against a Supreme Court decision that was really just an inevitable product of the philosophies that developed because of Freud and Nietzsche. And if we believe our own rhetoric, we are once again handling the future of our nation with this issue of Abortion.

Hell, we don’t even have to listen to our rhetoric. The simple fact that we are killing more of the future generation than are being born ought to scare the hell out us. The statistics and natural law arguments alone are more than overwhelming to let every single person in America know that abortion is a really bad idea. Pair that with the difficulty of nailing down exactly when life begins, and there are surely really good ways to present a logical” case against abortion that derives directly from a personal faith in God but does not come wrapped in religious or righteous language.

But by and large this is not how the issue is handled. And it frustrates me to no end, because while I agree with the goal, I disagree entirely with the methods. 

This is compounded by the fact that I am a Christian, and do believe that abortion should not happen, that it is murder. I do want to argue rationally, naturally, that abortion is wrong. I don’t want to pound dogma down people’s throats. But simply by admitting I’m a Christian, I immediately have what feels to be an insurmountable association with things that I either disagree with, or have significant doubts about. 

Normally, if I find myself too closely associated to one group that I have problems with, I leave that group, or disassociate myself from it like any rational person would. But I can’t do that with Christianity. These beliefs are what make the world make sense. Many a times I’ve stepped out from my faith in my head, and I don’t like what I find. The world doesn’t make sense unless I view it from within the Judeo-Christian meta-narrative. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty shitty Christian, especially when it comes to the day to day relationship aspect. But on the meta-level, there is nothing else that makes sense. 

So I’m stuck. I am a Christian, by choice, and by firm belief, but I’m not sure how that works out in life. Because I don’t find that I have much in common with the pillars of public Christianity today; but I don’t want to revolutionize or join any “modern” movement for reasons this post is not meant to delve into. What I want is to be taken seriously. I want this ideal world to exist where if I step up to be rational, people will recognize that while I hold fast to the fundamentals of Christianity, I’m not a Fundamentalist Christian and then they will listen to the substance of the ideas I present, without dismissing me.

And I’m not really sure what to do since that is – for all intents and purposes – impossible.


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