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Saturday, October 08, 2005

The World Vrs. The Church

One of the more popular trends in discussion and entertainment today is poking fun at Christianity. Sometimes this good-natured humor takes a darker turn and becomes an outright attack on all of Christendom. While I appreciate humor in all it’s forms, and I encourage independent thought and analysis, I also find the ever more vicious jabs at Christianity, God, and religion in general to be a rather disturbing trend.

Before I continue, I feel it is essential to clarify the difference between good-natured fun poking, and a vicious attack. My favorite example of good-natured humor at Christian’s expense is the movie Dogma. It is one long string of jokes about Catholic Dogma and organized religion as a whole. Some may consider the jokes in this movie to be blasphemous, but I think those people need to lighten up. I say this because even though the movie does make fun of my chosen faith, it also never attacks it by claiming God doesn’t exist, or that everything I believe in is pure bull crap. It is a well-informed and intelligent satire on Christianity, and I for one think it is a work of pure genius.

On the other hand, there is a debate group called the Free Thinkers Society in Colorado Springs, and as The Society for Free Thought elsewhere. This group seems to define free thought by the utter denial of all things spiritual. Their favorite faith to attack is Christianity, for no better reason than it is the largest and most influential religion in America. While I respect these people’s right to say and think whatever they want, I think the narrow-minded and deliberate way the members of this organization attack Christianity is an assault on my faith. The way they hash over the sheer impossibility of everything in the Bible is tiresome, and, in my opinion, pointless, hopeless, and ignorant.

The most common and subtle of poke at Christianity I see in entertainment is this phrase: “Where is your God now?” This same question gets posed to Muslims in entertainment as well, but I noticed that while there is usually something to redeem God in the show when this question is directed at a Muslim, it is not the case when the character in question is a Christian. This simple act in entertainment places a hopeless and worthless face on the Christian faith.

Along the same lines, I frequently see scenes in movies and some television shows where a man or woman of faith is cornered, and the attacker tells the character to beg God for help just before something bad happens. All prayer and pleading for deliverance doesn’t help one bit of course. These two things are not actual offenses in my opinion, but they are an interesting phenomenon, and the frequency they happen in entertainment is a little disturbing to me. I don’t lose any sleep over it though.

My main personal concern is the increasingly popular view that only unenlightened fools actually believe in God. In my life the most devout atheists I know are all very intelligent and well-educated people. People who know a lot about how the world works. These people also use rationale and raw intelligence to try to confuse and convince people out of the Christian faith. I have noticed that these people mostly leave other religions alone, and seemingly focus on Christianity. While it is within their rights to do so, I don’t have to like it.

After many debates with people such as I have just mentioned I have reached a few conclusions.

Faith is called faith because it usually cannot be rationally proven to anyone other than the believer. Rational beliefs are founded in tangibles. Things we can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell, and therefore easily understand. Faith is something you believe just because you know it is right. An excellent example to use is from the movie Contact. An atheist is telling a Christian how ridiculous faith in God is because you can’t prove God exists. In response the Christian asks the Atheist if she loves her father. She says yes, and he tells her to prove it. His faith in God is no different than her faith in her own love for her father. While there are reports of people being raised from the dead, limbs regenerated, eyesight and hearing restored, and other miracles performed in the name of Jesus, few people have never personally witnessed one.

Intelligence is useless when it comes to God. The human mind cannot comprehend God in His glory and might. This is why so many brilliant people refuse to believe in Him. Speaking from my own past experiences (I happen to be an extremely intelligent person myself, no bragging intended), a person who is capable of understanding the world in detail has a heck of a time believing in something he or she cannot fully comprehend. Bright people rely on their minds to define their world, and the human mind cannot define God.

Wisdom, difficult as it is to separate from intelligence seems to be more appropriate for understanding God. Weird as it sounds, the first step to understanding the tiniest portion of God is wisdom. I guess wisdom comes from the heart, of from an attunement to God, I really can’t say for certain. But I do know that highly intelligent people often lack wisdom. This is why so many geniuses’ fail at the basics of life while they excel at academics and technical work or art. Read: the sciences and entertainment. From what I see, most entertainers are smarter than your average Joe, but seem to lack sense much of the time.

So we get a lot of attacks on Christianity in our entertainment simply because people do use media to express and promote their beliefs. We also get it in our personal lives from the “enlightened people” in our lives. These attacks are targeted at the core of Christianity. They make Christianity look like a fool’s faith, and they always emphasize that there is more than one set of beliefs in the world as if the confusion invalidates them all.

True, there are many beliefs in the world, and the world would have us believe any or all of them as long as it isn’t Christianity. There are many sets of beliefs, but only one is correct, and I believe that one is Christianity. I know it in my heart, I have FAITH in it, and no slick talk or subtle poke will change that.

3 Comments:

  • "My main personal concern is the increasingly popular view that only unenlightened fools actually believe in God."

    Great line. This has become the popular refrain amoung the elites in our culture.

    Good post!

    I've linked to you as well and will be by frequently.

    By Anonymous the daily missive, at 4:59 PM  

  • good post! well thought out, & you explained everything very well! (i love the movie,'dogma' too!)
    BoUnCeS!! LibbY!

    By Blogger Libby, at 6:34 PM  

  • I am a Christian. Where I have a problem is when people who claim to be Christian act seemingly in direct opposition to Jesus' teachings. Unless you are a complete Biblical literalist (and therefore believe that you should be killed for disobeying dietary laws) most Christians probably interpret the Bible as it speaks to them in their particular denomination. But the interpretation which I see too often is "God wants you to be wealthy", meaning, "If you are monetarily wealthy it is a sign of God's favor, and if you are poor it is a sign that you are not doing His will and it's your own fault for not being Christian enough".

    Jesus said the precise opposite of that. And many of the most spiritually wealthy people I have met are poor as dirt - some voluntarily, some by circumstance. And some of the most spiritually impoverished people I have met are just rolling in dough and praising Jesus for it, even when it's been extorted from poor people by promising them that if they donate money to a ministry, it'll come back to them tenfold, sort of like a can't-lose lottery ticket, and spent on building massive megachurch/themepark/resorts, all for the 'Glory of God', when Jesus made clear that that was not what God asked for, but to care for the poorest among us. He said, "Get rid of your stuff and follow me". Not that things or money are in and of themselves bad, but the love of and attachment to them is. It keeps you from God. Getting rid of your 'stuff' does not necessarily mean literally giving away everything (although it can) but not allowing your 'stuff' to be your God.

    I would say that I am a fairly smart person; not a rocket scientist, but reasonably intelligent. Faith is a choice; even atheism is a belief system, as no one can 'prove' that God does not exist any more than one can 'prove' that He does. My faith infuses everything I do, and sustains me. But I would like to see more people adhere to the tenets of their religion, Christians and Muslims alike, rather than using God as a bludgeon to hurt and kill their brother with.

    If you identify yourself as a Christian, your whole faith will be judged by others according to your actions. So it is no wonder that when people see Christians behaving badly, they will associate that bad behaviour with Christianity, and not the individual. If you lie, cheat, and steal, even if it's technically legal but morally wrong, and loudly proclaim to be Christian at the same time, that can't help but make people think poorly of Christianity. And the same goes for Islam.

    By Blogger Alicia, at 10:51 PM  

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