Friday, September 14, 2018

Ashamed of Jesus

One of the things I've been noticing on Facebook in the past year or so is Christian family and friends writing things like I'm not ashamed of my Jesus. Ashamed? An interesting thing to defend. Have you seen it?
I can't help but wonder where this particular meme comes from, though I suspect I know.

In the churches, for example, from the pulpits, are they saying They, the atheists!, they want you to feel ashamed of your belief?  I guess it is a part of the persecuted Christian narrative that is so prevalent now. From my many years in the church, I'm sure that the people on the pulpits across our country are riling people up with the idea that they are being persecuted, shut down, challenged in their belief. And it's scary.

Maybe it's because I'm older, but I've become so much more aware of fad, fashion, crazes, and bandwagon thinking in things like music, fashion, even beliefs than I've ever been before. I've watched clothing and hair styles come and go again and again. I've seen musical styles give rise and fall. I've seen the belief systems of the church change from decade to decade. This decade seems to be the decade of War on Christianity.

How does this so-called persecution work for the church?
Any good team builder knows that the building of a good, strong team is to find a common goal around which to base the community. Where the group identity includes victimization (thank you abusers for giving us this form of identity) a leadership can organize all kinds of dynamic activity. From community-building activities to an overall sense of cohesion and battle-ready mode.

How does this persecution narrative effect the church?
I ask this because I've been thinking about this a little bit. First I have to remind myself of that quote that my son John reminds me of quite often: You see what you are looking for.  So if I'm going to consider the idea that the church finds this claim useful, I have to wonder why.

I think the portrayal of persecution toward Christians does several things. I think it is designed to bring together a community of people who are willing to ignore information seen and heard in the media for whatever is being sold by the leader of the club.  That means that people in the church are even more likely to disregard all forms of knowledge being accumulated by science every single day. Not to mention the idea that science is something to fear or to disparage. Which is something I find reprehensible, I'll admit.

It also creates a sense of willingness and a glamour to stand alone in a louder secular world. The feeling of persecution gives believers a sense of connection to the earliest church builders who were battling to survive. A stronger connection to the idea of being a True Christian. I think that some believers get a sense that it is a meaningful thing to fight the good fight for their religion, which is a tough thing to prove in such a wealthy and privileged country as the USA. I think there is also a sense of alarm and fear of all things outside of the church. Some people might even be willing to take their inflated sense of outrage and fear to the polls. More importantly, this increased fear and motility infuses the church with vocal supporters and empowers the quiet among them.

It’s almost a celebration of us vs. them to consider yourself to be persecuted. Can you see the benefits to the church of creating this false sense of persecution?

Sadly, this means that people who have bought into this narrative of exaggerated sense of ill-treatment are highly likely to ignore science, knowledge, critical thought, and any movement toward secularism and are more likely to shrink back into the confines of church doctrine as interpreted by current day proselytizers, are more likely to ignore the many things that are nonsensical about their religions, are proud to reject the outer world for a more fundamental belief system, are far less likely to explore their doubt, are subject to increase vast, impenetrable cognitive barriers between believers and others, to separate believers from the rest of the world.

And I think that that is a crime, a crisis of thought.
I resent the increased tension between believers and non-believers, I resist the church using the minds of kind people, and I resent the spread of fear of knowledge, all created from the church itself, in its pathetic last ditch effort to remain relevant. 

 What do you think? 

You Might Also Enjoy:

The Virtue of Doubt
For We Have Been You

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