I’ll never call myself a Democrat or a Republican, a right-winger or a left-winger, a conservative or a liberal, because I believe these two sides are ripping the country apart and because I have values that fall under each. I might call myself a Christian and an American, though.
Back in January, I had brief email contact with Father Mike, the pastor who oversaw my aunt Barb’s celebratory mass at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lake Orion. One of the things I expressed to him was my thoughts about becoming Catholic. Father Mike told me simply, “When you’re ready, let me know.”
I really liked that. “When you’re ready.” No pressure whatsoever. I’ve since found out that it is commonly said at Catholic churches to people who are thinking about becoming Catholic.
I don’t know if I’ll ever commit to it, but I’ve thought about becoming Catholic for quite a few years now. There are times when I talk about it and people don’t understand why it has to be the Catholic Church.
I’ve tried explaining why I have no interest in other churches or branches of Christianity. I’ll either be Catholic or I’ll be nothing religiously. But I don’t really have much of an explanation. All I know is I feel at home in Catholic churches. I don’t feel at home in other churches.
Today was productive. I finished editing a novella and submitted it. I wrote ten new pages into the novel. The novel is now 351 pages and 71,595 words. I have three more chapters for Part Two to write, but then I’ll have a whole third part to write and that’ll be another fifteen to twenty chapters before I’m done with this draft.
I also read three chapters of the Bible today. I just finished Judges. Tomorrow I’ll start on Ruth. There is still a lot in the Bible that bothers me. I just finished a chapter where a man throws his woman out to the mob so they can rape her all night long. When the woman dies on the doorstep, the man wants revenge on the men who raped her, and God is on his side.
I’m still hoping the New Testament will turn all this craziness around like some people have been telling me. But I cannot believe that so many Christians preach portions of the Old Testament. So far, the Old Testament promotes genocide, slavery, rape, kidnapping and forced marriage, and a number of other things that make me very angry.
Yes, there are some things in there that make sense to me and sound good, but a lot of it is disturbing.
The LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the LORD. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the LORD, who makes them holy.’ ”
What an asshole.
I remember once when Fred and our cousin Jimmy tried to explain that it’s Catholic, not Cadillac. But I just couldn’t hear them right and went on talking about the Roman Cadillacs.
I give up. I can’t sit quiet. I tried to avoid these topics, for my own peace and because I have issues controlling my temper. Plus, no one listens to me, so why bother? But, I can’t ignore these things either, so I’m going to say what I will when I feel the need to, instead of trying to hold it in.
A lot of people are trying their damnedest to convince you that Muslims want nothing more than to destroy everyone who does not follow Islam. There are Muslims who would love to see all non-Muslims dead. You bet your ass, there are.
And you know what? Just like Christians, there are a lot of Islamic bigots in the world who are probably not what you would call extremists, but who have a fear and dislike of Christians and other non-Muslim people. That doesn’t mean they will attack you, but they might have offensive things to say about you. It’s no different than how a lot of Christian bigots have such things to say about Muslims.
It’s that way with every religion (or non-religious group) on the planet. There are people everywhere who dislike other groups for whatever reason. These people are cowards. They live in fear of what they don’t understand. They want to keep the unfamiliar away because they think the unfamiliar is a threat. In other words, they’re paranoid.
But at the same time, there are just as many brave people in every group, whether religious or not, who are willing to meet with the unfamiliar and friend it. Be one of the brave people. Cowardice is generally frowned on. Don’t be a small-minded simplistic. Explore beyond your usual propaganda and find the good people in whatever group it is you fear.
Any document, article, video or whatever that tries to make you fear an entire group is propaganda. The purpose of this propaganda is to fuel your fear and hatred for whatever group you don’t understand.
There was a time when I thought Muslims were evil, but then I saw how wrong I was. It’s ridiculous to make blanket statements that cover entire religions.
I feel like a hypocrite sometimes. I have a habit of sounding off when I see or hear something I disagree with. There are times when I wish I’d bitten my tongue and kept quiet. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to get into the argument, that wants to keep my opinions to myself. And often I feel like a fool when I speak up. I think I have a pretty good grasp on what the Bible says and what it doesn’t, but I don’t hold that true to the Bible. There’s things in the Bible that rub me the wrong way. I’m one of those people who takes the things I like from the Bible and ignores the things I don’t like. Because I do that, it’s probably not fair for me to point out that this or that “goes against God’s word” and yah, yah, yah.
But there’s more. Over the last week or so, I’ve been questioning my faith. I feel like every time I say I believe in God, it’s as if I’m saying I believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I don’t think having a relationship with God is necessary for people to be happy and loving. For myself, why I believe at all: Well, I feel a pull at my heart, a presence in mind and in the world around me. A sort of soft embrace that is just barely felt and assures me that I’m never alone.
But am I just kidding myself? I mean, I’ve always had a wild imagination. Things from any book I read can make me feel that something is there. Something in Stephen King‘s Bag of Bones scared me so bad I threw the book across the room to get it away from me. “Hey, that’s my dust catcher!”
Is it possible that the Bible has a similar effect? Maybe I believe in God because so many other people in my life do and it feels right to believe. I’m not saying that I’m giving up my faith, because I still feel what I call God’s presence, and whenever I think to denounce God, it feels wrong. But whether that means anything or not, I don’t know. I’m currently questioning my faith, and I think it’s healthy to do so. There’s nothing wrong with thinking things over.
First off, I’m not writing this with the intention of offending anyone, though I imagine some people will be offended. My main goal here is to provoke thoughts and discussion, though my blog entries never generate much discussion and I’m not really expecting any. Also, it’s just another thing that I’m inspired to write about. Writing is what I do. When I feel inspired to write about something, I usually write about it.
Okay, so, the picture in the upper left corner shows the Lord Savior Jesus Christ flipping the bird. How nice. Now, mind you, this blog entry is not directed at Christians. I want anyone, Christian or not, to read this, think about it, discuss it, etc. But because this image, minus the middle finger, is a Christian icon, I think this entry will speak more to Christians than to non-Christians. And the question I’m asking here would probably be better answered by Christians, since it’s their icon.
My question is, why is this picture offensive to Christians? Whoa, hold on there. Yes, I know, some Christians are not offended by this picture, and I’m one of them. Some even find it pretty funny. But there are some who are bothered by it. Whether they’re bothered a lot or a little, it doesn’t matter. That it bothers them at all is what I’m wondering about.
Sure, the gesture can be offensive to some. But, I think the thing that really gets to Christians is that it’s Jesus making this offensive gesture. It’s like this picture is a violation of something sacred. Kind of like disturbing an Indian burial ground. It makes people mad.
But why feel that this picture is a mockery of your savior? That’s not even Jesus. Come on, you know that’s not Jesus. You do. All those paintings that are in homes or in churches, they’re not of Jesus and you know it. The paintings of the long haired, bearded guy with the exceptionally handsome face and kind eyes were first created hundreds of years after Jesus supposedly lived. No one knows what he looked like. The bible doesn’t give a clear description of him. So, what we have is an image that someone created to give us a visual of what they decided Jesus should look like. We make this image a holy icon, some people even pray to it.
I’m a Christian. I believe Jesus really did exist. Whether he was really the son of God, I don’t know. But I like to think he was connected to God in a way that the rest of us could never be. He inspired people to live better and to care for each other. I think Jesus is worthy of all the worship he gets whether he was really a son of God or not, because he is an excellent example to live by. Some other time, in another blog entry, I’ll explain what I feel God is, and maybe go on a bit more about my thoughts on Jesus and all that. But not here, that’ll derail the topic too much.
So, I’m a Christian, but I don’t understand a lot of other Christians. A lot of Christians just don’t make sense.
Why is this picture offensive to Christians?