DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
Repost of March 2001, Writtenbyme.com article and commentary
I must speak out against the plethora of untoward comments targeting Christianity on open publishing sites such as Writtenbyme.com and Themestream.com. Once again, with the advent of open publishing websites, it seems to be fashionable to defame Christians.
I am not a Christian myself. I happen to sympathize with the feelings of those who have been abused by so-called Christians. I also love speaking up for the underdog, for I am an underdog myself, although of another breed. The underdogs being in this case those good and decent Christians who are innocent of the charges brought against the hypocrites who preach faith in Jesus the Christ yet do not do His works on Earth.
Perhaps the hypocrites have it coming. Well, then, perhaps the accusers should be more particular, name names and expose particular deeds, and refrain from condemning everyone simply because they profess the Christian faith and love to read the New Testament.
Not every professor is a bigot, a phony who goes around swearing "By God" (bigot) before he violates the principles of the very faith he espouses. As for hypocrisy, everyone can find a bit of that in himself, especially if he knows the etymology of the term as it refers to the crisis (cross) that every actor on this stage bears whether he likes it or knows it or not, the cross between the reality that he is and the ideal he aspires to.
As we all know, religious intolerance practiced by atheists can be as reprehensible as the practice of bigotry in its strictest sense. We need a similar term for that: say, binegots, or those who swear "By no god."
God knows, if God exists, of my own infractions in those respects. Once, when I was having a tough time of it in New York City, I attributed all my troubles to "the Jews." The fact of the matter was, whenever help was forthcoming, rather than "I'll pray for you," the Jew was my savior. By the way, when I journeyed back to Kansas to visit my father, my stepmother asked me to sit down because she had terrible news for me regarding a recent discovery of hers. I sat down, and she said, "David, your father is a Jew!"
Such is my life. My father had never mentioned that his mother was a Jew who converted to Catholicism and revered the Pope. I always thought my father was some sort of theosophist. I'm glad I was not being raised in Nazi territory.
I was taken to Protestant Sunday schools when I was a boy. As I matured, I thought Sunday Bible meetings and Christian camps were great places to meet girls. Oh, there was a Catholic cathedral across the street from one church my stepmother attended some time before she became a Christian Scientist; I used to sneak out and attend Mass there because I loved the pomp and circumstance.
As for the Protestant churches, I vividly recall the disgust I felt when the elders would look at me and say, "Jesus loves you," or "God bless you," or "I'll pray for you," because, or so it seemed to me, it was all an act: they did not love me or bless me, and they prayed for me to excuse themselves because they did not want to help me. Today, however, I realize true Christians really do love me and wish me well, or would do so if they had half a chance. That is why it pains me to see them berated on open publishing sites along with bigots. Allow me this example:
A young man at the open-publishing site Themestream.com posted his poetic interpretation of a portion of the Bible, then sent me his invitation to read it. As prologue to the poem, he had written "I know you won't like this if you're not a Christian."
Well, experience tells us to never say anything like that in an article even if it is true . According to the classical rules of rhetoric, a speaker should not give even the slightest hint of any real or imagined fault in his self or in his speech—that sort of conduct should be reserved for true confessions. Still, regardless of the flaw at the outset of that budding author's poem, I sympathized with what he must be going through.
Good grief! I am not a Christian, but I frequently read the Bible, especially the poems! In fact I read the scriptures of all faiths with immense pleasure. And if this young man's poem is good according to my taste, I will tell him so, whether it is about King David or about a can of worms. In my low-browed opinion, although a good poet makes the poem, he does not create the truth, he reveals the truth, and truth is revealed thru the heart of the poet no matter what his object.
Anyway, to return to Dodge City: yes, the harassment has to stop, and it has to stop on all sides, or good people of all possible persuasions will be nipped in the bud and we will all be suffocated by our excremental culture instead of nourished by it.
The definition of harassment differs, so I suppose we should, in the interest of freedom, tolerate some of it. On the one hand, I agree with Krishnamurti's statement that the very identification with any particular religion whatsoever is essentially a hostile act setting one group against the remainder of the human race. But on the other hand, how are we to deal with that hostility if that is what it is? People are desperately lost in the mass as it is; they crave some kind of identity in something. I'm sure Krishnamurti could address the paradox to the satisfaction of a few but not to all.
As far as I am concerned, even good Christians harass people. For instance, I know very well the reasons given for the necessity of recruiting new members into Christianity, yet I personally abhor missionary activities. I believe one of the hates permitted to Jews is the hatred of missionaries: there are two ways to kill a Jew, and one is to convert him. There are so many missionaries armed with pushy commercial marketing methods who are all too rude when someone will not take their pamphlet or submit to being hustled. Others seem to be extremely desperate to have company, it gives one the impression they are motivated by fear rather than love, and thus they have no true faith. I personally feel all the missionary methods are invasions of privacy and disrespectful of the faiths of other people, including those who believe man is an omnivorous walking worm with bad teeth.
I say let people come to religion on their own accord, or accept the religion they were born into. We all know where the churches and temples are. But I do not say we should treat religious recruiters meanly. I treat the little old Watchtower ladies very well, and I even exchange Bible talk with them from time to time. And, of course, we must not forget that legitimate Christian missionaries are committed to charitable works helping the sick and poor, or that there are desperate people out there who may really be saved by the Gospel if not the Torah and Talmud. Therefore all missionaries are not bad, and I grudgingly make my allowances for lost souls.
Finally, I want to share something I said to a fellow writer who would be utterly hopeless without her faith in Jesus. She has recently spoken out against the verbal abuse of Christians on open publishing sites. This article happens to be my response. I concluded with, "I am glad for your personal love of Jesus. You know me: I am one who has actually defended Jesus with Christians as a matter of their principle. I would not be caught dead in a church; I want to be caught alive in the great Gothic cathedrals, not to be converted to Christianity, but to aspire to the pointed arch, and be inspired by the Spire. So go ahead Dear Lady, and may your god keep you safe."
You know I believe in God and Jesus Christ immensely. But I do not label myself Christian. I did once back in 1997 -98...I am actually very cautious of people who do say their Christians. I am what is called "backslider" I once attended church faithfully and Sunday school, I do not now. I now keep my eyes and ears open with much caution if someone's says "I am a Christian" I do read The Bible and I do love God. Too many label themselves Christian and in my opinion if that's what a Christian is I don’t want to be one. (Marie James)
A person belief system is exactly that - a personal belief system - why the fuck is everyone so thin skinned when it comes to their religious beliefs. My personal problem with Christians is everyone I know. They don't know the first thing about it. They go to church so they say they are saved, but they are the first ones to beat down any other beliefs are stupid. They don't even know what they believe in. (Hotcandy2000)
The problem with 'faith' is that it involves just that: a complete trust or confidence in whatever version of God you happen to believe in. When 'believers' post on open publishing sites the less enlightened of them translate this faith into their writing and begin preaching. To those who don't believe in their particular God, or who are agnostic, or atheist, this can come across as very patronizing/condescending/insulting; hence the conflict. Perhaps people who are rabidly religious should understand that by posting on sites where there are people who have different outlooks on spirituality conflicts are bound to occur. By all means, people should be allowed to espouse their religious beliefs, but they have to realize that we all have different views. (Budapest)
I only "preach" to people who I already share a mutual respect with, in that I share my beliefs with them, and invite them to try and understand. I hope that doesn't make me a hypocritical pushy Christian. (Fjord)
I have to agree with you, David. I do however have the opinion that religious “acceptance” rather than "tolerance" is the way. To tolerate means to put up with, but to still look down on it as being "wrong". Acceptance implies that you can mutually accept another person's personal belief system with no need to impose. Bashing Christians, Pagans, Jews, Muslims, etc is unacceptable. Maybe when people are stronger in their faith they can accept others as they are, rather than as they would try make another person into. (Sekhmet)
This was great!! I think that the bottom line is that man has so misconstrue d and mutilated real Christianity for his own gain that it's gotten horribly off-track, period. It's not nearly as complicated as everyone thinks. "Jesus died for our sins." Either you believe or you don't. That’s all folks! It doesn't have anything to do with altars, or going to church every Sunday, or giving money to an evangelist, or cramming your beliefs down everyone else's throats so they agree with you (and then, of course, will be as righteous as you) etc., etc. That's it! The bottom line. It has gotten so terribly confused and distorted that Christianity often has so little to do with God that it's ridiculous! I am a Christian, and my thinking works for me, but it may not work for you, and, although it is built on the blood of Jesus, my beliefs also incorporate Buddhist and Taoist thought, as well -- especially with respect to nature and relating to mankind. BTW, Krishnamurti rocks! As far as I'm concerned, anyone who believes in something "greater than themselves," whether it be Buddha, Mohammed, or Zarathustra, is probably on the right track. And even though we may not agree, who is to say which one, if either, is wrong? Rather than condemning each other's ideas, I would much rather hear them! I've always gotten a kick out of people who say "God loves you," and "I'll pray for you." That turns my stomach. I've always interpreted it as a cop-out and a way to keep from having to take responsibility for caring for another, themselves. "God loves you ... so I don't have to!" "I'll pray for you ... and then I'm done and it's up to God!" Plus, I've found that the people who say those kinds of things usually do it to make themselves look good. (Terrieens)
It is tempting to vent frustrations against pushy peoples in public, be they Christians or used-car salesmen. It's far more tempting (for me at least) to respond to extremely rude things in kind (but usually with a more interesting vocabulary). But we should certainly not fault good people for the sins of others. (Arnamenta)
Being a Christian means being "Christ Like" I do not look as Christians as my example, because many of them will fail you. I look at Christ as my example. Also, there is no reason why Christians, non-Christians etc, cannot write whatever they want. It is called freedom of speech. If you don’t like it, that's your opinion. It is wrong to lump all "Christians together" just as we would not lump all people together. Example: If a man or woman kills someone, it does not mean everyone in his family are killers too. People just need to be less judgmental, Christians and non-Christians. (Lapd1991)
I'm Catholic and I believe in God, but I despise some of the bible-thumping Christian zealots I have met. I believe in setting a good example in the way I live. (Clooneyfan)
I agree with you when you say good Christians harass people--I know that from experience myself. But not all of them are like that. (Natalie11)
Well said. Life for me personally in my beliefs all comes down to one question and your choice of answer - do you accept Jesus Christ as Savior? Regardless of how we were brought up and which religion we ascribe to - when the truth of that statement finally gets revealed to a person’s heart - it is then that a whole lot of questions will be answered. Thanks for listening - I know you do. (Chris316)
Here's my unrealistic wish. Why can't everybody just love everybody else because we are all human and everybody is different. Nobody has to bash anybody. Why can't some people get it? (Blutwilight)
I agree and have to admit, I've been guilty in the past of doing exactly what you've written about. I'll think more about it next time. Thanks! (Rraven)