Saturday, July 29, 2006

on following jesus

I had lunch with some church friends last sunday. Of all the churches I've been to, I find the Vineyard churches among the most open and least dogmatic, which is why I attend one here in regina. But let's face it, I no longer fit into any christian community that I can think of. Wherever that theology exists, I am an outsider with weird ideas. I consider myself fortunate to have the friends that I have, christian friends with whom it is safe to discuss my ideas and who have some weird ideas of their own. Some of them are in my church, though not many. And don't get me wrong, I love the people in my church, all the ones I've had the opportunity to get to know. But the gulf between us is widening, and I sense myself caring less and less.

Anyways, we had lunch. And I made the mistake of opening my big mouth, but like I say, lately I just don't care, and anyways..... she asked.

That is, I mentioned that I would be going to manitoba to visit family, and that my brother in law was looking forward to setting me straight on my heresy, and she said she was really interested in hearing what heresy I'd been spinning, and she seemed truly intrigued, and though my intuition told me this would not go over well, I was too deep in it to just shut her down and keep my secret, and part of me hoped.... I always hope, that someone else feels the same as me. Maybe if I just say what I'm thinking, I can find those who are also..... thinking.

So I said "I don't believe in hell" and then explained why, and I said "I don't believe that the bible is the infallible word of God" and then explained why, and then I said that I found taoism interesting, and that I believed that God's truth could be found in all sorts of places, not just christianity, and that there were revelations of God in places other than the bible.

She leaned forward and said with all earnesty, "So you're not following Jesus then?"

At this point I laughed.... thinking she was joking.... but she remained serious, and didn't get the joke, and my brain just froze up. I mean, from my position, the question and her seriousness seemed completely preposterous, but to her in was totally sincere. It seemed like such a seven year old sunday school thing to say, but she's gotta be mid forties. How does someone that old not move beyond.... that?

I mean, how are YOU following Jesus? Are you raising the dead and walking on water, and pulling quarters out of fishes mouths?? More relevantly, are you dedicating your life to the sick and poor, and speaking with authority and wisdom on issues that are currently important, in ways that bring new perspective, and are you laying down your life for people who hate you?

Then what do you mean by saying that I'M not following Jesus? Did I not just say that I valued His teachings? Did I imply somehow that I've converted to islam? Is there something that you're doing to follow Jesus that I'm not?

I mean, what the hell kind of question is that anyways? What does following Jesus even mean? What does "follow" mean, and who is Jesus exactly? Do you ever ask any questions at all?

I think most of the people who make up christian congregations are those who don't question, or who only question the "safe" issues, which are really irrelevant issues, like what did paul mean when he said this and this, when the question you should be asking is, who is paul that we should place him on a pedestal and believe every word he writes?

I love this woman, she's my friend, but for that day her attitude bothered me quite a bit, until I settled down and realized it wasn't her, or maybe it was, but not just her. She's a member of a large herd, and they've been trained this way, indoctrinated.

I was watching "The Island" last night, which is a really good movie, in my opinion. It follows two clones in a large underground facility which raises and keeps clones as insurance policies for rich people who might want to withdraw organs according to need. The clones are taught to accept the reality with which they're presented, until one "batch" developes the inclination to question. For one clone, the questioning escalates until he finds himself running for his life and escapes the underground. He walks out under the sky and looks out over the vast landscape, and in that moment I know exactly how he feels.

In the movies, you can go back and destroy the facility and lead the others out into the sun, but in real life no one wants to go. I think that's what truly bothers me. You can't rescue those who don't want to be rescued, and lets face it.... they're happy there. Who am I to mess with their paradigm. In real life, you escape alone and you move on.

Reality can be a real pill sometimes, nevertheless, I prefer the freedom.

9 Comments:

Blogger doxasky said...

re: the not believing in hell thing...
In a previous post you had said that you weren't going to go by what Paul said about hell, but that you were goin to try to focus on what Jesus said. Well, I thought that could be a good idea, so I went in search of "hell" in the gospels. Jesus actually talked about hell quite often (Mt. 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15; 23:33...plus the parallel Scriptures).

Even with these Scriptures in mind, I can also understand why people would struggle with the idea of a loving, merciful God sending people to hell, but I cannot yet accept that there is no hell because of these Scripture references and others that give reasons for people going to hell.

Now, like I said, I'm just going by that one post you wrote, so if there are other reasons that you do not believe in hell I would like to hear them. See, I am very interested in the "wide and narrow pathways" and the belief in hell seems to be the wide pathway in the church and I do not want to believe something just because it has been traditionally accepted.

Also, if you have escaped and found the freedom, I would ask that you not just "move on" but that you would teach those who might be willing to be rescued, but do not know of another way.

July 30, 2006 3:14 PM  
Anonymous ursa smaller said...

well, it's true that jesus spoke of hell quite often, but look for the origin of the word hell, the specific greek and hebrew words which are currently translated as hell, and there's really not much support for our conventional understanding of the word hell... that is, the eternal torment in flames understanding.

July 30, 2006 5:54 PM  
Blogger thelyamhound said...

You might find C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce interesting; he posits that hell is simply an eternity in the absence of God, immersion in that which the organism has come to prefer to "joy".

August 01, 2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger Charles Rathmann said...

Ursa, I think you are a closet Conservative Quaker. My own experience might mirror yours as I was raised by a German Freethinking father and at first approached the scriptures from the skeptic's point of view. The scriptures do not depict a consistent view of Christ or of the God of Abraham. But as I immersed myself in them, I found they reflect the evolving beliefs of the Isrealites and later the Christians, who were never of a single mind about anything, really.

During Jesus' time, for instance, the Pharisees believed in an afterlife and the Sadducees did not (this was more the historical belief of the Jews -- the afterlife was at the time a recent phenomenon in Jewish thought). That might be why we see biblical references to heaven and hell as well as the tradition that the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now if we choose to live in it (the Kingdom of Heaven is Within You). The Quakerization of the scriptures is I think essential -- reading them in the light of the Spirit which gave them forth.

Jesus himself never wrote anything apart from some words in the sand -- and all the better because the letter killeth.

So in the end, we need I think to converse with the Jesus who walks the corridors of our hearts, reconciling and checking against the scriptures and with those of our spiritual community. Of course finding that community can be a challenge.

In the Light of Christ,
~ Charles Rathmann
John4-14.blogspot.com

August 01, 2006 5:00 PM  
Blogger doxasky said...

Thanks Ursa...I will continue to look into that.

Thelyamhound...that is a good book and I do remember that conclusion hitting home...thanks for the reminder.

August 01, 2006 5:08 PM  
Anonymous ursa smaller said...

wow, a conservative quaker. No one's ever called me that before.

August 01, 2006 10:08 PM  
Blogger Charles Rathmann said...

Well frankly, Ursa, I come from the liberal Friends General Conference branch of Quakers, but am in the process of defecting to the Wilburite Conservative branch. FGC meetings are these days more populated by secular political activists than Christians. Conservative Quakers are more deeply spiritual and ardently Christocentric, but the lack of formal doctrine still appeals to my German Freethinker heritage.

You might groove upon the following:

http://www.nffellowship.org/
http://www.georgefoxwritings.com/

In the Light of Christ,
~ Charles Rathmann
john4-14.blogspot.com

August 02, 2006 5:59 AM  
Blogger Charles Rathmann said...

Check out in particular ...

http://www.nffellowship.org/christ_the_light_of_the_world.pdf

August 02, 2006 6:07 AM  
Anonymous ursa smaller said...

i've been to georgefox writing, and I remember disliking what I read there....

I think I prefer hang outside of any religious umbrellas.... labels are more trouble than they're worth.

August 02, 2006 6:52 AM  

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