A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world.

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Feb 7, 2010

Personal Experience, God and Replying to the Commenter

I received an comment on a recent blog post from a dear friend of mine, Melissa. I thought it was interesting, and deserved some form of a response. So here I go!
___________________________________

Hi Jo,
This is soely my opinion but, I've been reading a lot of your entries pertaining to Christianity and to be honest I find a lot of your views biased and over generalised. You need proof as well as personal experience. You shouldn't critise things you don't trully understand.
I am the first person to put my hand up and say I am biased. Personal experience creates a biased viewpoint of the world, regardless of how balanced we try to be, or want to be.  To me, personal experience is proof: and from what I can see, personal experience has impacted your perceptions of God etc as well. Your perception of God/spirituality has changed over time, thanks in no small part to your personal, spiritual experiences (ie, at the recent conference you attended).

I think I do understand Christianity: after all I spent nigh on 15+ years heavily involved in it. And yes, during that time I had many fulfilling spiritual moments: I flipped through my old Bible yesterday, and was amazed by the depth of my belief as was evident by comments I had written in the margins, and the hundreds of verses I had underlined. There was a very real belief (and spiritual experiences) behind each and every letter I had written, and the verses that I felt so moved by to underline them. But sadly, I found something to be lacking: first with the church, then with the bible, and finally with the Abrahamic god.

Also (still my opinion)God and religion are too seperate things. Religion specifically Christianity is a man made insitution which is merely a vehicle to reach God and to please him. A relationship with God and trully believing in him and having faith with or without church to me is entirely different. I believe the Bible is written by God and man and has been reinterpreted many times by man to suit there understanding and unfortunately to suit there own goals and belief systems which I agree with you can lead to abuse. I also agree its a very patriachial based religion, but so are many others. I perfer to think of the Bible as a collection of stories and history and its from this we can learn. It can't be taken in the same context as today because it is an entirely different culture then now.
Yes, I agree that God and religion are two completely separate issues. I have never said I completely deny the existence of a god/ultimate power/being. I might deny/dislike some facets of the abrahamic god, but that does not mean that I do not consider it a possibility that an ultimate being exists outside that particular belief system: personally, I just don't see it being particularly concerned about humankind (we are very small drop in a very big ocean). If others find comfort in that belief system (and they are not harming/hurting anyone), then that is entirely their prerogative: heaven forbid that I interfere. I would encourage you to re-look at the link I posted concerning Apathetic Agnosticism, for further information on the 'box' I think I most closely fit into.

I have never said that Christianity was the 'only' patriarchal belief system out there. I am well aware there are many more. However, as I have only had experiences with Christianity, I think it is only right I stick with what I know best. It would not be right for me to pronounce judgement on something I did not have any prior experience with. I have had experience with abusive, fundamentalist Christianity, so I focus on and am critical about the abuses that are happening in that system.


However, you must remember not all Christians are bad or think they are hollier then thou, it's a stereotype. And maybe when people who get come to faith lose contact with friends is because they have troubles reconecting with those who haven't or have disconected entirely. I perfer to say I am a secular Christian and I will always be your friend no matter what, whether you're Christian or not. Given your experience some of your opinions are valid, but some are not.
For some Christianity gives people hope and meaning in life. No one can "interupt there joyful ignorance," because they truly believe.
Melissa :)
 I have have never said that all Christians are bad/holier than thou. I believe a great proportion of fundamentalist Christians can be, thanks to things I have seen with my own eyes. As for the standard, more liberal churches? I think there will be always be a sub-section that have the holier than thou attitude (particularly towards the unconverted): after all, their god does say they are the chosen people, and they have all the answers in a convenient single book. But you are quite right, there are Christians whom don't flaunt their salvation, the answers, or the fact that they are a "chosen people".

I am glad that you have found a belief system that makes you happy, and fulfils you. I am glad too, that you are finding a way to come to a conclusion that suits you and you alone.

I agree that many people drift away from each other when their faith changes shape or form. It is a natural progression, albeit it one that I find very sad, and painful. It is not something that I like, even though it tends to happen regardless of how one tries to maintain the relationship. At the very least I try and keep the door open. So, no, I am not going anywhere soon!

My opinions are valid for myself and myself alone: I share them, because it is my blog and my space to do so. I would never be presumptuous enough to claim that my opinions are the only ones that matter: which is why I am spend so much time researching and adding links to my posts. As I wrote regarding my deconversion:

I deconverted. A long, drawn process which ultimately led to some peace, happiness, and more importantly, balance, in my life. A process I wouldn't wish on my own worse enemy. To deny everything that you have been taught (and believed) since childhood isn't pleasant, to say the least. I cannot say this process would be suited to everyone, nor that everyone should follow my way. 
 As for the "joyful ignorance" quote: I do believe you are referring to my comments in this post:

The service started on a good note with a female worship leader. The music was certainly loud and 'out there': it was a very clappy, happy sort of worship. For me personally, that was neither here nor there. I just went along with it, far be it from me to interrupt their happy ignorance.

For one thing, this was a tongue-in-cheek look at a conservative, albeit charismatic church. I was looking ahead to the troubling events (the pastors sermon, the father and little boy incident) that were to come. I was only referring to the members in this church. I followed up my (somewhat negative) notes on this church with a mostly positive portrayal of the Salvation Army church.

For another, it was a "happy ignorance", not a "joyful ignorance".

Love,
Jo

1 comment:

Finbarpurpleton said...

Jo, Jo, Jo,

I like reading your blog and reading about your experiences with Fundementalist Christianity. I have been reading each and every one of your post and thinking of ways to respond to engage you in some way as I find some things you say interesting. It's true though I did take the "joyful ignorance" out of context and for that I am sorry. The thing is I believe blaming God or religion for bad experiences to me is not the answer, it was the abuser, the one who used religion and God to suit their own selfish goals.Religion is totally a social construct.

Melissa :)

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