As is so often the case, I went negative on my “own kind” first by pointing out some serious flaws in many Christian mind-sets (see “Getting Off Track, Part 1“) before I decided to go pointing fingers at the non-Christians. But now, it’s time for some people on the other side to get their share.
I saw a bumper sticker a few days ago: Jesus, Protect Me From Your Followers.
I got a chuckle out of that, because it is true than many Christians make Christianity an easy target due to their actions (and not because there’s anything inherently bad in the tenets of Christianity itself). Frankly, a lot of Christians scare me, and I’m a faithful (if inconsistent) follower of Jesus.
But at the same time, when people get in my face (literally or figuratively) about how arrogant I am that I would say Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, I can only ponder this: “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”
Why the rancor toward Jesus and the faith centered on him? I mean, this is one of the most progressive guys of ancient history. I’m still waiting to see agnostics and atheists pile onto the Jews or Buddhists or anyone else and call them arrogant for believing their paths are the right paths and probably the only legitimate paths.
And please, don’t start with the “Well, Christianity has done more damage than…” It’s a bullshit argument that half the time isn’t even accurate and generally has little to do with Christianity itself, and I’m tired of people arguing that most of the world doesn’t really even know about Jesus, much less believe in him, and thus I should shut the hell up…and yet somehow my faith is doing these people such harm. You can’t have it both ways. Is Christianity abusing them, or are they ignorant of Jesus? Kind of hard to believe both things.
Maybe I’ll start a path toward accepting the argument that having a set of strong beliefs makes me arrogant when more people around me start saying, “Gee, representative democracies in capitlalist nations sure do seem to do a lot of damage to the world! We’d better abandon capitalism and democracy right now!”
It is not arrogance for me to say that Jesus is the right path. It’s my belief, and you are welcome to think otherwise and to disagree with me. But it still doesn’t make me arrogant.
You see, God has an easy way, and a hard way. But it all comes down to Jesus the Christ in the end.
I give Little Girl Blue as much freedom and latitude as I can. I allow her, even at just shy of four years old, to disagree with me strenuously if she likes. But in the end, if something needs to be done a certain way (i.e. Daddy says so), then it will get done my way in the end. Not because I’m a tyrant but because that’s the way it needs to be, for her health, safety, and general well-being and proper growth.
Now, Little Girl Blue can say, “Daddy, I don’t want to” and then do it anyway because I’ve asked her nicely and explained why it’s necessary. That’s the easy way. (Note, I don’t expect the easy way to be to just obey me without question; not even God really expects that of us…He knows us too well). Or, she can throw a tantrum or ignore me repeatedly and do other things that will cause me to raise my voice and possibly snap one of her favorite DVDs in half and throw it out (should she push things that far).
She has options. But eventually, it comes down to me or to mommy and what we’ve laid down as law.
You can give Jesus some serious consideration now (and hopefully come to see that he is the way, the truth and the life), or you can just keep shouting that it’s arrogant to believe such things. But I wonder, when your heart beats its last, and you see Jesus, and he gives you an amused little smile, a shrug of his shoulders and says, “You know, Deac and Big Man and a lot of those other folks pretty much had a lot of it right. So, why don’t we talk about the choice you want to make now”…what are you going to do?
Are you going to say, “Oh, well, I guess we should talk then. I guess I was off track there.”
Or will you say, “Fine, I’m here, you arrogant messianic asshole. You think I’m going to bend my knee now?”
Hard way, easy way…and even a semi-hard way right in between the two, I believe…but hell, it’s your choice, and I’m devout in my conviction that you have every right to make any of those choices. Your right. Your free will. It doesn’t affect me in the end. I wish you well, I hope you do well in this life and the next, and I respect your rights.
If that’s the new definition of arrogance, then I’m happily arrogant.
You know I’ve discussed this mindset a lot, so I don’t have much to add here.
I’m slowly learning to let that stuff roll off my back.
On a semi-related note, have you ever read Phillip Jose Farmar’s Rivewold series?
It’s five books, but they are somewhat interesting. A tad overwritten, but interesting for their look at religion and life after death. I got a little frustrated at some of his presentation of Christianity because of some of the shortcuts in reasoning he took, but I think you would like them.
Deacon, why are we here on planet earth?
I think I might have started reading one of the Riverworld books a LONG time ago, but never really got into it at the time. I’ll see if my library has copies, though. If not, perhaps some of the local used book stores.
BTW, after you suggested the Farseer series, I’ve now read everything by Robin Hobb except the “ships” series (the first book in the series has been checked out for a while and I have a sneaking suspicion it might be lost…don’t want to hop in at book #2 though). Thought the Soldier Son series was really interesting…you catch that one yet?
I couldn’t begin to say with any kind of certainty.
To burn away the dross? To learn about the temporaral/carnal before we enter into the spiritual? To test us? To sort us? To be a single step on what perhaps might be a multitude of additional incarnations/evolutions through eternity?
I figure I’m going to have to wait a while to get any kind of clarity on that, and I suspect I’ll be waiting until AT LEAST my death on this world to get any kind of answer.
“I couldn’t begin to say with any kind of certainty.” Deacon Blue
I like your honesty. I asked the question for a reason, and I’m glad that you responded, because it allows me a follow-up.
Like you, I have no definitive answer, in the sense that everyone will accept it. But there are those who have offered answers, and I will cite two:
Dannion Brinkley, the noted near-death survivor, stated that while on the other side he was given a message for humans: All who come to earth are powerful spiritual beings, and are seen by other souls as heroes and heroines, because we were willing to do what no other souls were willing to do: come to earth to co-create with God.
Neale Donald Walsch, of “Conversations with God” fame, reveals that we came to earth to “experience fullest glory.”
Now what does all of this have to do with the “path,” and your statement: “You can give Jesus some serious consideration now (and hopefully come to see that he is the way, the truth and the life)…?
As “the way, the truth and the the life,” Jesus personifies “The Path,” as well as “The Life,” and “The Truth.”
Today, I’ll focus primarily on Jesus as “The Path” (or “The Way”). As the embodiment of The Path he tells us why we’re here, suggesting, in passing, that he came so that we might do it even better: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Surely man was alive before Jesus’ coming, so it’s possible that he had something more in mind. Was it possible that part of his mission was to show us how to live a life “more abundantly,” implying that, up to that time, we weren’t really living.
Here on earth (as opposed to heaven), it seems, we get to live life “more abundantly,” as Jesus states it, “to co-create with God”, as Dannion Brinkley reveals it, and to “experience fullest Glory,” as Neale Donald Walsch describes it.
I guess you could say, in part, we humans had lost our way, and Jesus became The Way and The Path to return us to the path, making him both Guide and Way-shower.
Youre right, I couldnt stay away. 😉
I think the reason why Christianity gets the bad rap is because of its Evangelical and Saviour mentality. If it just wasnt so damned aggressive. Case in point is this scripture.
Matthew 28:18-20 (English Standard Version)
And Jesus came and said to them, “ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Surprising how that may piss some people off, dont ya think?
if joshua ben josef were here, now, he’d be pillorized even faster than he was then.
as would most of the saints, apostles, prophets, and other biblical leaders.
i think i’m going to go give myself a pedicure. my brain hurts.
Tit for Tat,
Sure, I can see how it might piss people off. But at the same time, if it was honest, then what he said wasn’t arrogance but rather speaking the truth. You may disagree with me that he was the son of God, but you have to admit that if he was, then nothing he said could be considered arrogance, could it. In fact, given the way he treated people and taught them and moved among them and preached his own role as a servant as well as a teacher, one would have to say he was exceedingly humble given the amount of authority and power vested in him.
I agree that many spiritual leaders and scholars, Jewish, Christian, or otherwise, would indeed see very fast persecution (and unjustifiably so) both from the secualr side and the religion interests that would feel threatended by them. And that’s a shame. Because even though I don’t hold that all belief/systems can be correct, I respect all of them in their quest for spiritual truth, I support people’s right to follow the path that feels true to them, and I think that the world is better for a multiplicity of beliefs.
I may think that Jesus is the son of God and the one true path, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think people can find him at the end of an alternate path they have chosen.
My biggest problem is with people who are clearly all too mortal these days (and in relatively recent history) who set themselves up as gods or people with proprietary divine connections and abuse and misuse their followers.
People who simply hold vastly different beliefs than me (Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, etc. etc.) are totally cool. I’m glad to have them around, frankly
I found the Soldier Son series to be the one I liked the least. I read the two books, and they left me unattached to the main character. I felt like I missed the nuance and character development she brought to someone like Fitz, or Wintrow in the Liveship Traders Series (which I highly recommend.) Maybe I just didn’t like Nevare or something, but I was disappointed when I finished the books, particularly at the ending to the second book. It was WAY too abrupt and Deux Ex Machina for me.
Reminded of that disaster knows as the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I hate him so much for all of my life he wasted on those books. Now that I know how things end, i can’t even enjoy all hte early books I purchased. Damn him!
I can’t judge completely it’s place in the overall Robin Hobb canon, since I haven’t read the ships series, but I agree that the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies were superior to Soldier Son.
But was that a typo on your part, or did you not know it was a trilogy? If you thought Renegade’s Magic was the second and final book, then you missed either Shaman’s Crossing or Forest Mage, which would definitely inhibit a full appreciation of the series.
I liked it from the standpoint of looking at colonialism, as well as the handling of magic and the culture of the Specks, as well as Nevarre being split both between two worlds and within himself (literally). I agree that the end of the third book was a bit too much “most everyone lives happily ever after,” but I also like how it tied together earlier things to show that the magic was moving things along in subtle ways all along. I also found the fact the the protagonist is obese during much of the series to be an interesting spin, as you don’t usually see overweight heroes.
My bad, I actually did read Forest Mage. So, i should have said third book.
Cool. I thought, “Man, if he went straight from Shaman’s Crossing to Renegade’s Magic, that would have been mighty disconcerting…”
I like LW’s take on this. I also think a lot of people feel overwhelmed by Christianity, because it’s so prevalent in this country, and so many christians are in our faces all the time trying to run our lives and legislate us out of existence. I know, you made note of that. But it still gives all Christians a bad name, right or wrong. People judge me all the time based on the fact I’m trans. They constantly harp on “the gay lifestyle,” as if all gays and lesbians lived the same way. My most recent post refuted an article that lumped all trans women into one of two pathological stereotypes, which would be completely unrecognizable in the people I know. All blacks like watermelon, and all Christians are arrogant.
Except they don’t, and they aren’t. And gays and lesbians have as many different lifestyles as straights have, or almost. And trans people are all individuals, too.
Who’d a thunk?
I suspect that people in predominantly Muslim nations who are Christian or Jewish or otherwise would feel likewise “overwhelmed” simply because they are the religious minority. Or Christians, Muslims and others in Israel. Or It’s actually a point Big Man brought up in another post on this same general topic.
Yes, most political leaders are “Christian” and so we see a lot of Christianity in the public forum. And many Christian groups are emboldened by that to be out there and sometimes do things that are arrogant or discrminatory or nasty.
But just as we shouldn’t judge Islam by the folks who twist it to exert harsh governmental controls and sexism and the like in some nations…or judge it by the actions of terrorists…so too should we not judge Christianity based on assholes, not matter how many there are of them.
I always come back to my example of politics. How much damage done worldwide and inside democratic nations themselves by “representative democracies” and capitalism.
And yet, few demonize the political or economic system based on the many folks who abuse them, misused them, and try to sometimes force them on others.