Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On Evangelism

There have been a lot of Christianity related posts lately, too many to write decent replies to while I was on a brief trip to Kansas, so I thought I would try to make a general reply as a post.

As someone who went from deeply devout in the best of all possible ways, to deeply fundamentalist in the worst of all possible ways, to deeply anti-Christian in the most obnoxious of ways, to someone who has calmed the hell down, and taking another look at his old Faith, evangelism is something that hits a lot of buttons for me.

From the reply's to Jason's posts, I think it hits a lot of buttons with the rest of you as well.

Evangelization isn't a bad thing. It can be a great way to share ideas, if the people involved are open to dialogue, and do not have a set agenda. I've seen this in a lot of clergy, even the fundamentalists here in the Godless North, because the clergy involved realize that we all need to work together, and that religion is such a powerful force, that if we don't, it is catastrophic. Hell, the Rabbi's daughter who I knew high school, her dad's best friend was an episcopal priest, and they both had good relations with the interfaith community. If evangelism is taken from a place of sharing and dialogue, it can be an awesome thing. It can really open peoples eyes about other faiths, and really enrich the lives of all involved.

What most people have an objection to, seems to me, to not be so much evangelism, but more like spiritual extortion. Do this, or else. Honestly, that is a shitty way to get anyone to do anything. That is simply being a bully, or as I like to call them, a "knob hound." (Actually I just thought of the term "knob hound" and wanted to use it in a sentence. )

A bully can try to do something good, but if they've been pushing people around for long enough their inter-relational toolbox is pretty empty. If yelling and shoving people have worked so far, why not try that first? If it doesn't work at first, it usually works if they keep doing it for long enough. And now they are bullying "For a good cause" or "For someone else's own good", so it makes them doubly tenacious.

You can evangelize through dialog, or through being an ass clown. I think it would be more profitable for all involved if more inter religious dialogue were public, and clerics were shown publicly getting along with one another.

Many Christians don't realize how much abuse by Christians to those of us who are minorities, be they sexual, religious, or social, because to them as normal people, it is unthinkable. A Christian would never do that. And to my mind.. they are correct. Those who inflict such abuses aren't Christians, they are simply using Christianity as a cudgel to cause harm.

Creed does not so much matter. It's just an excuse. It's an outlet for an ill and xenophobic mind. It is a sickness of culture, and an illness of the heart. Sadly, one Christianity had hoped to change, and once upon a time it did start to change, becoming a great mystical and civilizing force.. until it was used as a weapon by both Church and State against any convenient enemy.

To quote the Cheshire Cat: "Question: When is a croquet mallet like a billy club? Answer whenever you want it to be." Just because someone uses a lamp as a cudgel, does not mean that the use is in line with the design of the lamp. There are many antidotes that can be poisonous if one isn't careful. And sadly, there are many who have used Christianity as a weapon, far too many.

The answer, it would seem, as the weaponization of Christianity goes against its basic design, and requires many mental gymnastics in order to justify, would be for Christians to act more.. well.. Christian. To follow the example of Jesus. Kindness, tolerance, openness, Love to all, and anger only to those who would twist minds and empty pockets in the name of God. The Good News is best shared by leading a happy and fulfilled life, proving that what is preached works in the field. Get rid of the mental gymnastics and live the life.

People know real virtue when they see it. Holyness is self evident, and even children and animals can easily spot the unwholesome. Virtue is hard, but worth it, and it is its own reward. I say that last bit with no sense of bitterness. Virtue is its own reward, not only because none other will be give, but because none other is necessary.

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