Wherein I Confess To My Christianity Problem

I should probably turn in my goodness card. I blew up — via email — at a well-meaning Christian who wrote to tell me that all I needed was prayer to find the Holy Spirit. This happened about a week ago. I’ve been mulling over the incident ever since and have realized that I need to make a confession: I have a Christianity problem.

To be specific, I’m rather famous among my friends for responding with an instantly arched back, flattened ears, puffed up fur, bared fangs and a loud, prolonged hiss to any mention of Jesus, Christ, The Bible or traditional churches. Like a tabby that turns a corner to unexpectedly bump into a pit bull, I find myself thrown into battle mode.

This is decidedly odd given that some of my best friends are Christians. I’m not joking. Two of them are even ministers. I vacation with them, laugh, debate and explore spirituality with them. These two aren’t mere acquaintances. They’re call-in-the-middle-of-the-night-when-I’m-desperate friends.

I attend services every Sunday at a Unity Church, a denomination that until recently billed itself as “practical Christianity.”  My personal creed is best described as Buddhist/New Age/Spiritual. Nothing in it demands a rejection of other religions, and I serve on the church’s board. Many members of this close-knit spiritual community are Christians. We get along well.

My hostile reaction to Christianity is personally puzzling, but it’s also an issue for the Goodness Project. If nothing else, I doubt whether I can find or even understand goodness if I’m eaten up with hate for a portion of humanity.

So, what gives?

I suspect that my reaction grows from many seeds, but I didn’t see what may be the biggest source until this week. To explain, I must digress and tell a story. This tale has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with anger.

From 1979 to 1985, I studied karate with the Feminist Self Defense and Karate Association. About a quarter of our work focused on self-defense. On this particular day in a World War I-era gym at Michigan State University, we were learning to defend against club-wielding attackers. The technique is simple. When an attacker runs at you with the intent of clubbing you on the head, you  step to the side at the precise moment he swings. If done correctly, your side step leaves only air for the attacker to hit.

The trick is in the timing. Move too early, and the attacker adjusts his swing and hits you. Move too late, and the result is equally painful. The only way to practice timing is to do it, so we were to divide into groups of two, and arm ourselves with rolled-up newspapers.

On this day, a new student had arrived at my nearly all-female school. This guy was about 6 feet tall and muscular in a hulking, steroid-enhanced, wrestler kind of way. His gi (those white pajama thingies martial artists wear) barely contained his body. He wore a white belt, designating that he was a beginner, and he terrified me. He chatted politely with other students and smiled, but the mere fact he was in the room scared me.

That’s because of my father. Dad taught me many things: to take pride in my work, always strive for excellence and to know terror. He abused me to the point where I alternated between wanting to die, and believing that I was going to any minute. On the day of this karate class, I didn’t want to be put in a self-defense situation with any man, particularly a big one. As our teacher, Joan Nelson, paired up the students, I silently chanted “don’t put me with that guy, don’t put me with that guy.”

She put me with that guy.

Nelson lined us up in two rows, facing each other. I got the rolled-up newspaper and was to play the role of attacker first. At the teacher’s command, the other attackers and I were supposed to yell, raise the newspapers over our heads, run at the defenders and try to hit them. We were supposed to make it realistic.

My teacher gave the command. On both sides of me, students shouted and dashed good-naturedly at the defenders.

The moment I raised my newspaper, I was enraged. There was no logic to it; all I was doing was feeling. I bellowed and ran at this man as fast as I could. I wanted nothing less than to kill that bastard. Once, twice I ran at him, swung the bludgeon and hit only air, getting more furious by the minute. On the third pass, I swung as hard as I could as he started to step to the side. I hit him solidly on the shoulder.

He flexed it and smiled sheepishly.

My fury drained away. I blinked. Like a blurry film jerking into focus, this fearsome creature suddenly shrank from hulking to slender. He wasn’t half as big as I had thought. “Sorry I hit you so hard,” I said.

“You are really fast,” he said.

I laughed.

After that, we completed the exercise in the same friendly manner as everyone else, and I learned something far more important than a self-defense technique: I feel enraged when I feel powerless. Like a surprised tabby cat bumping into a dog, I use anger to puff myself up when I think I’m in a hopeless battle. Once I hit my practice partner and knew I wasn’t helpless against him, my anger dissipated.

Here’s what this story has to do with my feelings about Christianity: Christians terrify me. I am strong and capable, but part of me feels like a powerless child who can’t withstand the Christian onslaught. I’m a 10-pound cat facing a 120-pound pit bull and the snarling beast is frothing at the mouth.

I’m an out lesbian and a non-Christian living in nation where more than 75 percent of the people are Christian. A healthy chunk of those folks are fundamentalists, Mormons and conservative Catholics who expend enormous effort and money to limit my legal rights and hurt my family. A tiny portion of those people, like my neighbor the Rev. Fred Phelps, believe I should be put to death for no other reason than who I am.

Preachers and priests rail against me from the pulpit. Churches and Christian organizations campaign against my family. In the process, they stereotype me as a vicious sexual predator or a sex addict. (A homosexual will have 10,000 sexual partners, and they’re always looking for new victims, claims the pastor of a church in suburban Kansas City. I haven’t had even 5 sexual partners in my life, let along 10,000. I don’t even know how you would do that. When would you buy groceries, do laundry, go to work?) I joke about this minister’s outrageous claim, but I also worry about how many of the 4,000 members of his congregation believe him. How many of them would deny me work, or beat me up because he has convinced them I’m a threat? When I’m not being pilloried by Christians for being queer, I’m being exhorted to ignore my own experiences and my own spiritual journey and accept “Jesus Christ as my Savior.”

So, this is my Christianity problem: Some Christians have hurt me, and continue to want to hurt me and the people I hold most dear. I’m having a horrible time figuring out how to handle my feelings about that fact.

Intellectually, I know every Christian isn’t antigay or disrespectful of other people’s religious beliefs, but my little girl self doesn’t live in the land of logic. My little girl self wants to hurt them as much as they’ve hurt me. I can be the closest of friends with Christians if I know they don’t seek my destruction. I can accept their theology, and support their worship. However, I also feel powerless to withstand what feels like a continuous assault from a portion of Christianity. My smallest, most frightened self is too scared to wait to determine if an individual Christian is friend or foe; I just want to verbally  attack the instant I meet one.

But here’s a fact about powerlessness that’s surprising. I learned two lessons that day in karate. I learned that my anger is fueled by feelings of helplessness, but I also learned that my feelings distort my perception. My hapless practice partner was much smaller than I could see at first. What am I missing in my great tussle with Christians? What am I unable to see about them?

I’ve read that some Christians are just as frightened of me as I am of them.  They think I want to destroy their way of life, take their Bibles, or close their churches. (I don’t.) I think they’re the pit bull, and I’m the helpless tabby. Do they think I’m the attack dog, and they’re the cat?

I refuse to be governed by fear. I refuse to be fueled by hate and a thirst for revenge, and I refuse to add to the demonize-the-opposition poison that is sickening our society. I want to let go of my anger at Christians.

I have no instant cure for the dilemma of my feelings. I won’t deny the real pain some Christians have inflicted on me. But I suspect that I’m not as powerless as I fear. Once I can understand — right down to my socks — that I frighten some of them as much as they scare me, then perhaps, just perhaps, I can finally let go and see every Christian as an individual. Maybe someday I won’t feel the need to strike out at them. Maybe someday I can learn to give all Christians the benefit of the doubt. I’d certainly like them to do that for me.

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27 Responses to Wherein I Confess To My Christianity Problem

  1. Darrell Icenogle says:

    Could it be as simple as this? Your most potent weapon is your intellect, which Christians are always able to avoid when it poses a threat. For some Christians, their most potent weapon is their religion, which is useless against a non-believing intellect. The fear, the threat, and the powerlessness is perfectly reciprocal. Your sexual orientation might add more motivation, on both sides, to win an ultimately futile battle. For both of you, your rolled up magazines will always miss.

    I’m guessing your friends who are Christian are also somewhat intellectual, and thus more understanding of your perspective. Intellect is a bridge, and itself can provide a bridge to moral understanding without need of religious support.

  2. As someone with her own Christianity problem, I applaud you for putting the subject out for discussion. I grew up in an atmosphere in which “Where do you go to church” is the first question asked of a newcomer and I learned early on to be polite about everyone’s religion. But I also grew up with the expectation that the worst excesses of fundamentalism were dying out. (My father, who is almost 92, thought the same thing.) Instead, they have come back with a vengeance.

    And I’m tired of being polite to people who want to undermine the First Amendment by establishing not just Christianity, but a certain subset of Christianity, in the United States. I’m tired of being polite to people who apparently cannot accept their faith without a literal reading of a book with multiple authors that has been badly translated from earlier bad translations and was put together as a political compromise in about the 3rd Century. I’m tired of the efforts by fundamentalists to keep our children from getting a decent education in the sciences by pushing their “creationism” into the schools as if it were actual science. I’m tired of the anti-abortion crowd and the other attacks on women generally. And I’m really, really tired of their idea that they are moral and I am not.

    There are Christians doing wonderful works in the world, from the leadership of the Episcopal Church on matters of inclusion and diversity to folks like the health care workers recently murdered in Afghanistan who were bringing needed medical care to people who had none. I appreciate all of them. But the ones preaching hate, the ones trying to impose their view of the world on the rest of us — they are a real harm to our society.

    A belief in God does not guarantee goodness. The history of Christianity is rife with examples of extreme evil done in the name of God right alongside the stories of people anyone would call a saint.

    BTW, I don’t just feel this way about fundamentalist Christians. I see similar veins in Judaism and Islam that are equally disturbing — and also see great good being done by Jews and Muslims. I’m not sure what it is about the idea of God that turns some people into compassionate saints who bring hope and help into the world and others into haters who bring harm to all around them. Perhaps we don’t have a Christianity problem, but a problem with those whose idea of religion is a license to hate all those who believe differently.

  3. Kelley says:

    I love that you have addressed these issues…fear, perceptions, Christianity, all of it. I believe we all have similar, if not the same, issues to deal with. Keep it up!

  4. I remember the first time I realized that other people could think of me as “the enemy.” Very shocking! I’m just me! I wouldn’t hurt anyone. I’m all about stay-out-of-my-business-and-I’ll-stay-out-of-yours. But, yes, to some people the fact that I believe women are equal to men threatens the hell out of them. (Not all of the people who feel threatened are men, by any means.)

    I had never put that understanding (they’re as scared of/angry at me as I am of them) together with *my* Christianity problem, so thank you.

  5. dianesilver says:

    Darrell – Oh, I don’t think anything is simple, but if I’m understanding you correctly, then I worry that you’re putting the entire conflict in terms of intellect. I think that is also a simplification. (Actually, I’m not certain that’s what you’re doing. Can you explain more?)

    In my experience, intellect is wonderful, but human beings are far more than intellect, and that’s what can get us into trouble. In my experience in the self-defense exercise, intellect had nothing to do with my response. I reacted emotionally until my gut got it that this fellow was no threat to me, and I only “got it” when I succeeded in hitting him with the newspaper.

    Before the exercise started, I knew full well that he wasn’t a danger to me. It was a controlled situation, and I knew my teacher well enough to know that she wouldn’t allow anyone dangerous into class. I remember telling myself to calm down, but my emotions gave my intellect a martini and sent it to the beach. On that day, emotion trumped intellect, although I have to admit that if my intellect hadn’t been involved in at least a limited sense, I wouldn’t have stayed in the room long enough to even participate in the exercise.

    I also think that we smug non-Christians need to be careful not to dismiss believing Christians as idiot anti-intellectuals. (And I’m not certain that’s your intent.)

  6. dianesilver says:

    Nancy – Agreed, agreed, agreed! On the other hand, I’m not talking about a “Christianity problem” in the world, but a “Christianity problem” within myself. I don’t have the silver bullet to cure what appears to me to be the very dangerous problem of fundamentalism in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and in other religions. I’ll leave that question for another day. What I am unhappy about is the fact that I find myself spouting off, being down-right nasty to Christians at times, and refusing to give them the benefit of the doubt that I’d give to a rabid dog. (I’d at least wait to see if the dog is rabid before attacking.) At the very least, I would feel better if I could be calmer about the whole topic of Christianity, and respond to Christians in a calmer manner. I also hate it that I’m stereotyping them. I know how it feels to be stereotyped, and I don’t want to do it to anyone else.

    Bottom line: I don’t want to add to the poison of demonizing the other that is filling our world. If I’m reacting so strongly out of my fears, then could they be doing the same? Or at least, could some of them be doing the same? That’s what I’m wondering right now.

  7. dianesilver says:

    Thanks for the comments, Kelley and Jennifer!

  8. dianesilver says:

    I just got off the phone with a friend who clued me in to the fact that it sounded like my gut reaction was to physically attack a Christian the instant I met one. I’ve changed that line to “verbally attack.” She also told me that she read this several times, getting something different out of it each time. I think that means this is more complex that I even realized! (Of course, it could also mean that the writer — that’s me — failed, but I’ll worry about that another day.)

  9. janice josephine carney says:

    Glen beck has the power of having a radio show, a Fox TV show, and a publisher that will blindly publish any book he puts together. This assume power allowed him to full the Washington Mull with an audience for his call for “Restoration of Traditional Values. “He was claiming that a miracle would happen a few small miracles did happen: They were no mean, hateful racist signs, not one speaker implied that Obama is a Muslim, and they left their automatic weapons at home. The huge questions are what do Beck and his loyal followers mean by taking their county back and restoration of traditional values? I do believe one thing that is a key part of their retuning traditional values means ending all civil rights protecting LGBT people along with introducing new laws to insure that we have no basic civil rights. Tied in first place with their dream of R of TV is a government control of women’s Bodies, a 100% criminalizing of abortion in America. As for taking their county back, all I seem to get is they what a white president with a good Christian name. As beck said: “My dream is to turn our faith back to the values and principles that made us great.” This is what scares me; Mr. Beck has been using his power to convince his audience that all of the writers and signers of the Declaration of Independence where Christians creating a one religion country based on his faith beliefs. This is the big lie that Beck is spreading to create a history that never happened. Members of the Universalist church, self-described agnostics as well believers in Daoism wrote and signed our Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights. The harsh reality is what the big Beck rally was all about is the same as the rallies all over the mid-east. Radical Fundamentalist leaders calling for a revolutionary takeover of government by their religion and all laws based on their religion to become the law of the land. This is the dream of that beck and his legions called for in DC this weekend, and it scares the hell out of me. They are a political power in America today that can end religion freedom in America in the name of their God.

  10. John McNeill says:

    Nancy
    I have spent 50 years and wrote 5 books trying to defang the poison in Chrigtian belief toward LGBT people. Because of your opening line I would like to recommend ny book Freedom, Glorious Freedom: The Spiritual Journey to the Fullness of Life foe Gays and Lesbians, their lovers, families and Friends.
    Thanks for sharing your very insightful blog.

  11. Diane,

    It was my pleasure to include your post in my blog today. Your post raises some important questions that all of us who call ourselves Christians should be asking.

    For others who may be interested, I am an Episcopalian. I was just received on the same day as my partner Jason was confirmed an Episcopalian. I am a former Catholic and Jason is a former member of the Church of Christ. We both have experience being part of conservative Christianity and now we have come full circle. I myself was involved for 18 months in the Catholic church’s ex-gay ministry called “Courage” that was started by Cardinal Cook in the late 1970’s early 80’s.

    I write a daily blog using the Lectionary of the Episcopal Church and the Revised Common Lectionary, as well as write about the Saints in the Church. In each blog I write about the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Church and society. I discuss many politically challenging issues including racism, sexism, and the unacceptable spiritual and political violence that conservative Christians cause in these areas. I also write about how the Christian Gospel really does NOT condone discrimination, and cruel violence on any group of people. It is an attempt to promote some thought and maybe recover some things in Christian spirituality and prayer that have been lost due to the abuses of conservative Christians.

    Everyone is welcome to visit.

    Thank you Diane for your work.

  12. Pingback: My Christianity Problem, ctd. | In Search of Goodness

  13. cathy knight says:

    this has been very interesting to read and i’m not sure what i want to say but i feel compelled to say something…diane i very much appreciate your honesty and candidness…clearly christians have strayed so far from the spirit of the first gatherings as people of faith…before patriarchy, literal interpretations, the bible, big C Church, hierarchy, my religion is better than your religion…i’m more pious than you… i am continually frustrated by those with power in the USA – white, educated, straight, males…who use their interpretation of their religion to support their right to this power. what will it take for us to pause and say how does what i have or what i want contribute to the common good. i don’t think you need to figure out how to handle your feelings about christians….i think it’s time for christians to wonder how they have strayed so very far away from what jesuswas modeling as basic, fundamental acceptance and love for the margenalized.

  14. Cindy Grantham says:

    Diane, you’ve not failed as a writer, and I’ve not failed as a faithful reader. We’ve simply got more exploration to do. There’s certainly no reason to turn in our goodness cards yet!

  15. I recognized when I first read your post that you were acknowledging that some of your reaction to Christian thinking is based in fear and anger, and that you were trying to open up yourself to a recognition that some Christians might be coming from a similar place and could be worth talking to if both sides could get past their own fears. That’s both honest and generous.

    However, the post triggered in me another kind of issue: the fact that I was raised to be polite and not argue with people about religion. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is wrong not to challenge the wrongs that are being done in the name of religion, though that it’s also important to do that without criticizing people for having a faith. That’s why I wrote as I did.

    But your comments about anger and fear triggered another thought in me. Back when I studied karate, my teacher used to try to improve my fighting skills by encouraging me to get mad. But that never worked. I don’t fight well when I’m angry. I finally tracked that down and realized that when I get angry, it’s usually because I feel powerless. The two things are tied together in me, intellectually and emotionally. I see it in other people as well.

    I fight better, I deal with conflict better, I solve problems better if I’m centered and calm. That out-of-control anger comes when I’m confronted with a situation I can’t do anything about and it hits when I’m already feeling stressed or upsets me so much that I can’t think clearly. It can be brought on by fear — people who tailgate me on the highway will hit my anger button, to give an every day example — but it also comes out of other feelings of powerlessness. It upsets me greatly to see an injustice — personal or otherwise — that I can’t fix, just as an example.

    This is another one of those subjects that requires more treatment than a blog post comment, but that’s a start, anyway.

  16. Roger Martin says:

    Having avoided blogs, I was surprised to find myself reading yours tonight, Diane. I take years to write things, so I’m a little suspicious of whatever seems tossed off. But I was moved by your ambivalence about Christians.

    I have come to believe that there is no “Christianity” — there are only “Christians” — and that each one is nuanced or tweaked in some slightly different way than all the rest. There are differences among Christians that are never, ever discussed — it would simply be too upsetting. I’m fairly sure that even snake-handlers don’t see eye to eye on every detail.

    And, I contend, because there are as many “Christianities” as there are those who label themselves “Christians,” there’s no monolith to deal with. Your reference to the fact that “some Christians” upset you is honest — a leftist Christian who called me a “card-carrying intellectual” one Sunday upset me. Attacks can come from the strangest places.

    A little more about the amazing variety of Christians out there.

    Ninety-nine percent of those who identified themselves as Christians in a Lou Harris poll a few years ago said they believed in God; 22 percent of those also believed in reincarnation. Just what IS a Christian, if nearly a quarter of them harbor Hindu ideas? Who’s kidding whom?

    Just as there are multitudinous species of Christians, there are lots of different Christian gods. Research shows that rather than being made in God’s image, we make God in ours, and the kind of God we imagine has much to do with our race, our gender, the geographic region we inhabit and our education. Two Baylor University professors, in an article that appeared in 2007 in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, write that though 96 percent of Americans “indicate some level of belief . . . in God,” there is an “underlying diversity of opinion” about God’s character. In their study, Paul Froese and Christopher Bader theorize that two characteristics of God, in particular, are up for grabs – how much God 1. is involved with the world and 2. judges human behavior. Working from a survey of 1,729 people, they found that women, compared with the average, thought God more engaged but less judgmental. Southerners saw God as more engaged AND judgmental. The God of nonwhites was more judgmental than the God of any other demographic. And those with some college see God “both as less judgmental and less involved in the world than average.”

    The in-your-face God is far more imaginable to most people than a hands-off God: “Approximately 15.6 percent of the sample scored the highest possible score on God’s engagement, compared to the less than 1 percent (o.8 percent) who view God in the most distant terms.” I’m a distant-God kind of a guy, but I also flat out know that I don’t know. There’s a respectable tradition of not-knowing among thinking Christians, including the like of Blaise Pascal, William James and, more recently, Karen Armstrong in “A Case for God” (which happens to be a case for a God unlike the personal one that’s been in fashion since the Renaissance).

    What’s more, Christianity, under pressure from science and other social forces, is subject to enormous fluctuations of sentiment within short time spans. According to a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, two of three people in 1963 believed the Bible was the actual word of God; by 1999, the number had dropped to one in three. What does it mean to be “Christian” when understanding of the sacred text changes so radically in so little time?

    It seems inevitable that as the internetting of the world continues, Christianity will be salted with the Dalai Lama and peppered with Buddha. Heterodoxy happens. There’s a chance here for a reformation, an opportunity to re-envision Christianity — for those who want to be agents of change.

    That’s my personal goal. Yes, there’s loads of nonsense and bile loose in Christian churches, but there’s also loads of nonsense and bile in lots of other groups. We’re all pretty harsh when we feel threatened. What I keep hoping for is a fearless infiltration by decent, thoughtful people of the Christian establishment — people who want to remind their fellow congregants of the core Christian teaching — love your God, your neighbor, yourself. All your neighbors. And, by the way, if you see a mote in the eye of that stranger across the street, check your own eye to see whether it’s harboring a log.

    I attend a Mennonite church because in company with my fellows, I can help to leverage the good. I believe that the world is sorely in need of more of that. If I didn’t, I could pass many a Sunday morning reading the New York Times and bitching about John Boehner, but that doesn’t seem very helpful.

    What gives me faith, I suppose, in the engagement with Christianity is that it has moved some wonderfully brilliant people, including, besides Pascal and James, C.S. Lewis, Kathleen Norris, Nancy Mairs, Annie Dillard, Reynolds Price, Anne Lamott.

    Your friend,
    Roger Martin

  17. dianesilver says:

    Roger,

    You truly are my friend and drinking buddy, but that’s a tale for another time. I have never felt threatened when we discussed religion or Christianity or lesbians and gays, or anything else for that matter, but then again I have first-hand experience with the fact that you are seriously NOT into judgment and nastiness.

    I do so appreciate your thoughtful comment, and the fascinating research you report. I know how hard you work on accurate reporting, so I trust your facts. I particularly appreciate the information about how the “God” of Christians is really many, different gods of many different sorts. The god of some Christians may be a thundering, vengeful, judgmental jerk, while the god of other Christians is loving and compassionate.

    However, I am rather curious about this comment. You wrote:

    There are differences among Christians that are never, ever discussed — it would simply be too upsetting.

    If you’re talking about differences of belief, then I think Christians — particularly moderates and progressives like yourself — do a disservice to others and to Christianity by remaining silent. These days Christianity is most often defined and championed in the media by those with the most fundamentalist and narrow-minded view of Jesus and God. If Christianity is ever to be seen as anything but a refuge for the nasty and the vile, then folks like you have to speak up.

    Sincere apologies if I’ve misunderstand what you meant, Roger. As always, I wish you hugs, great beer and much love.

    • Roger Martin says:

      I think what I meant by that comment is this: I sit in a Mennonite congregation Sunday after Sunday without knowing, at all, in any detail, what any of the folks sitting there truly think about, oh, 1. what the “soul” is, 2. how to pray/what to pray for/what prayer is for, 3. whether saying that God is Jesus is God is Jesus (et cetera) is more possible now that quantum physicists have concluded that an electron is both wave AND particle, 4. why a God as mad and thunderous as the Old Testament God would suddenly remanifest, in the form of human flesh, as a being of great nuance and subtlety and 5. much much more.

      If people would talk to each other and recognize how much difference exists even among “their own kind,” maybe the shock of the really different “Other” would be lessened. I don’t know. Just a thought.

      I think Christians are like everybody else — they don’t think much about the concepts they hold to be self evident and if they did so, and actually started talking about them, their Christianity would be much more vital. It would also be painful, I think, to recognize fundamental differences of interpretation among themselves. And recognizing that could, perhaps, begin to loosen the toxic bonds of tribalism.

      I believe that we live in an age that needs, very badly, conversation: among “friends” as well as between friends and “enemies.” I believe we’re living lives bloated by declaration and starved for conversation.

      I’ve pushed an event, for years, called “It Happened One Day,” an interfaith collaboration of DOING on one day, involving every faith group in Lawrence, Kansas; I’ve done this because experience suggests to me that working side by side with other “Christians,” and I use the quotation marks to indicate the enormous diversity the term suggests, gives us a chance, at least, to get to know each other a little better — and if we could get to know each other a little better — just a little — we might begin to influence each other ever so slightly. Move a little closer. Recognize our shared humanity.

      Of course there will always be psychopaths and sociopaths and I’m not interested in dealing with them, whatever their belief system or politics.

      Otherwise, though, I really think it’s time we figure out some way to cut our losses, which means standing quietly but firmly on the side of opening lines of communication and looking for others who want that. Demonization just won’t cut it.

      What I liked about your original writing, Diane, was that it avoided that — beautifully. You struck just the right tone. And thanks for the kind words.

      Roger

      • dianesilver says:

        Aw gee, thanks for the compliment, Roger. Coming from you and you are a great writer, that means a lot.

        And, thanks so much for the rest of your comment. It’s beautiful, wonderful, and all I can say in response is amen.

    • LeighAnne says:

      If I may, a short comment here on three words: “…in the media…”

      We see a narrow-minded, intolerant Christianity every day, because when those in positions of influence in the media are looking for someone to represent “the” Christian perspective for a story — and they’re always imposing a certain narrative bias (people without one would be at a loss to decide what to report) — they return to the same colorful extremists to “balance” their reports.

      This is generally done without personal malice — unless you’re talking about Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and the like, who are paid to be controvercial and outrageous — but a few sound bites in an eight minute news segment convey very little, and little should be expected, few conclusions reached.

  18. Cindy Grantham says:

    Uh, I just wanted to remind the non-brilliant people that Christianity is still okay/relevent/acceptable…

  19. Pingback: My Christianity Problem ctd. | In Search of Goodness

  20. Kevin says:

    Hello Diane. I have not spoken to you in about a hundred years it seems, but stumbled across this blog and was reminded how honest and well spoke you are.

    One thing about anger…it is gift…or can be. There is nothing wrong with being angry, it is very natural. Anger has created battered women’s shelters, stopped genocide and forced the creation of solutions to problems. Anger has changed people, made them react and learn and change and grow.

    However, like your specific in the blog, I do find my patience far too short, my rage takes control pretty quick when someone takes a religion that teaches peace, non-judgement and tolerance and uses it to control, hate and attack. I respond with little understanding and no tolerance. Begging the question, when I do so, what makes me different than them.

    The answer, in my opinion, is very little makes us different at that moment.

    And that leads to the very hardest lesson to learn in life, for me.

    One has no control over the thoughts and actions of others, only our actions and reactions. Wow….45 years old and I still feel like a small child trying to learn that lesson.

    Anyway…I love your blog….if you ever make it down to Peru, you have a place to stay. I have been in Lima for 4 years now…..take care.

  21. dianesilver says:

    Kevin,

    Thanks for your kind words and your perspective. Like you I do believe that anger is a gift, but it can also be a curse as you so wisely note. Some people never learn this. Getting it at 45 is wonderful! Now, if I can just figure out how to live a non-angry life…

  22. Pingback: The Hard Work of Compassion | In Search of Goodness

  23. Pingback: Christians May Irk, but Christmas Doesn’t | In Search of Goodness

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