Why I am not a Christian (in some people's eyes.) Or, A Final Screed Before I Take a Break.
Disclaimer: If you fear another diatribe from me, at least read the bold print section below. If you agree, you should read the rest of what is written here, and let me know your thoughts. If you don't agree, you can choose to just look at this photo, but you're certainly welcome to read and/or comment.
The reasons I am not a Christian diverge somewhat from Betrand Russell's in his essay, "Why I Am Not a Christian." I think Russell spends too much time finding fault with Jesus as he is portrayed in the New Testament, and not enough time finding fault with the writers who portrayed him in the light Russell found offensive. For me, Russell doesn't give enough consideration to the historicity of the gospels themselves. Still, I don't disagree with his sentiment, even if I've found other pathways to nearly the same conclusions. Let me explain my thinking here:
The first gospel, Mark, was written approximately 60-80 years after Christ's death. Until then, as far as we know, the story was handed down by word-of-mouth. There simply weren't a lot of literate folk back then. Reading and writing were not a common thing, and computers were reeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaly slow back then.
Have you ever played the game "telephone"? The game starts with somebody whispering a phrase to another person. That person then whispers the same phrase to another, and so on, and so on, until the last person repeats the phrase out loud. There is usually a stark difference between the two versions.
Imagine this going on for eighty years, and with a much, much, much longer story. This realization is one of the reasons I gave up my journey in Christianity. While I believed wholeheartedly, and still do, in loving the "least of us" I knew that direct quotes from Jesus were pretty much impossible.
I think if Jesus really existed, his core message was that those we vilify- the diseased, the poor, the wretched flotsam and jetsam of society- these people were as worthy, or even maybe more worthy in God's eyes, than the entitled.
That was all Jesus had to do to gain the ire of those in power. He didn't have to claim to be God's son. That message alone was too dangerous. The elite were less in God's eyes than lepers and whores?!?!?!?! Holy Shit!
We STILL have this problem two thousand years later, so just imagine how disturbing the message was back then. Hell yes, they'd crucify the bastard who said this! Those were powerful words, and I believe in them.
The words of the gospels themselves weren't convincing to me. They sounded like the writing of people who were trapped in their own times and attitudes. Treating it as Truth often led to hate and intolerance, the very same things Jesus would never accept. Like this fine oratory from senior pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina:
"So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, 'Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,' you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed...
Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting too butch, you reign her in. And you say, 'Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up."
Ah, but once this beautiful sermon grew viral on the internet, the good pastor said he was merely joking, and shouldn't have hated in such an outright way, but instead hated more subtly, so his narrow-minded bigotry and ignorance wouldn't be so obvious. Well, he didn't exactly say that, but it's what he means. Here's the link to the story, audio, and his actual disclaimer if you're interested:
THIS man, to me, and his entire attitude, is the anti-Christ. Yet it is people like this pastor, and the terrible people agreeing with him in the background, who so often define Christianity. Why in the world would I want to be part of something like this?
I'll end this screed soon, before I get too repetitive, but you know this is a serious issue for me. I have to keep bringing examples like this up to keep my message alive.
I know better Christians than this reprehensible pastor and his followers, and I wish they would speak up more, present a better face to their beliefs. Like John Shore:
Now THAT is a Christian I can support and respect. That's all I'll say. I'm afraid this already seems like a rehash of other postings, but I tried to approach it a little differently. Either way, you have a moody photo to look at, so hopefully I haven't wasted too much of your time. And soon I will be gone for a bit, and won't be here to spread my evil all over the place, as if the world were my bread and I, the peanut butter.