“If we’re being Honest…Sometimes it’s the “Church Folk” that run People away from the Church.” – Adam Hopkins
I’ve run away…and not because of Jesus.
Christian Zealotry masquerading as a man of the cloth was the trigger. Is Zealotry even a word? Must be, my spell check didn’t alert me otherwise. After being told I was on a slippery slope to hell due to my leftist leanings, the trigger took me back to a previous pig trail I followed. I’m guessing I am still following it. The path leads away from organized religion.
The original motivation for this occurred six years ago from a sermon I heard. I wrote about it then and have retitled and rewritten in the present. What I haven’t done is changed my beliefs. We “Church Folk” have done much to destroy the Christian Church.
My original was written in a time before Donald Trump’s Presidency, before the pandemic, before Qanon, before the Capitol riots, before Joe Biden, before recounts, and before the more recent plague of wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, more wars, and rumors of war…and Hunter’s laptop.
My trigger, a former student now a minister, believes some of these are God’s will, others the work of Satan or Democrats, (to him and his minions…err, church members, they are the same). He also believes he is free to mix and match strips with plaids or linen and cotton, but alternative lifestyles are damned. (Leviticus 19:19)
Before “times that try men’s souls”, I did not find comfort in my words then and I still do not. Times are still trying men’s souls and the words are still “trending” in my head. In other words, the trend still applies…to me.
“As Christians, we do a better job of promoting what we are against than what we are for.” This was a quote from my minister on a Sunday morning six years ago as he presented his sermon and for once I was paying attention.
Had I titled his message for him, the sermon would have read, “THE TRAP THAT IS RELIGION.” He referred to this “trap” a couple of times and his sermon provided a “thoughtful feast”…although some of his servings might have been a bit bitter.
Later in the day, as I thought about the “trappings” of religion, my thinking ran along another pig trail to a rabbit hole. Not the trappings my minister was talking about. It was “my church is bigger than your church kind of things”. Fancy eye-catching robes, repeated liturgy in unison, fireworks, and lightshows, long, long altar calls, and other public displays. It was about my God being better than your god and if you don’t believe it, I will beat you over the head with my Bible, Quran, or Dead Sea Scrolls.
My pig trail led to wealth gospels, faith healers, QAnon followers, and a video of a Baptist minister preaching about “How Women These Days are Just Not Hot Enough.” My pig trail led me to our hallowed halls of government where I see little modeling of Jesus despite my trigger’s nonvalid point that “we are a Christian nation” versus my valid point that “no, we are a constitutional nation.”
My cynicism toward organized religions has grown to epic proportions. I haven’t been able to return “to the little white church in the vale” even as my fear of COVID passed. My loss? Their loss?
After hours of self-reflection, I realized I have problems with public displays of faith, and it may be my lack of substance. Little Donnie having problems should not mean you should, unless they are empty displays, and I should clarify. I do not mean modeling Jesus; I mean chest and Bible thumping, a handheld above the head, snakes being handled, calls for hellfire and damnation…all while hating your neighbor because they choose a different lifestyle or hating another religion because…because it is not your religion. Having the trappings without the substance.
I should clarify further, it is my problem, not anyone else’s problem. If you wish to handle a snake to prove your faith and piety, go for it, just alert me so I may be absent.
I also have a problem with the “my way or the highway” point of view of many religions, and not just reactionary Christianity.
My religious beliefs are private, personal, and hard for me to express, certainly hard for me to put into printed words. Is it because I’m not religious enough? Am I not filled with the glorious “light of the Son?” Why do I freeze when asked to pray publicly? Has my pig trail run me off a cliff?
I know some Christians believe that public displays are part of the trappings and are necessary. They are comfortable with them…I am not. I wish I were. I want the God and Christ in one to make me more “public” but, yet, they have not eased my struggle. They are busy elsewhere. They should be and profoundly so. I do not blame them for their silence and still believe in their teachings…most of their teachings, some of their teachings, which is another part of my trap.
When I thought about the “trap that is religion” I could not help but remember the lines from the Buffett song “Fruitcakes.” The lyrics went, “Where’s the church, who took the steeple? Religion is in the hands of some crazy-ass people. Television preachers with bad hair and dimples. The god’s honest truth is it’s not that simple. It’s the Buddhist in you, it’s the Pagan in me. It’s the Muslim in him, she’s Catholic ain’t she? It’s the born again look, it’s the WASP and the Jew. Tell me what’s goin on, I ain’t gotta clue.” Like Jimmy, I really don’t have a clue.
The line about religion being in the hands of some crazy-ass people is what gives me the most pause. I believe religions have done much good…and much damage.
I am concerned about followers of reactionary American Christian Religions whose piety allows for racism, bigotry, and misogyny.
I fear zealots, especially those who wrap themselves in the United States’ flag calling it patriotism. A zealot by any other name is still a zealot whether it is religious or political. I fear those who have combined the two into one nationalistic ideology.
Locally, I am concerned when a deacon displays a “Let’s go Brandon” sign prominently on his home…that might have been “what broke the camel’s back.” I worry about and question the sincerity of some. While it is not for me to judge I find myself falling into that trap too. “Judge not lest ye be judged” and I would not want to be judged.
Where in the Bible does it say to weaponize the word of God and use it to bludgeon non or contrary believers into submission? While I don’t wish to judge, I do and find some relief from a friend’s quote, “Judge not lest you judge wisely.” I’m not sure that is Biblical, but I am sure it is not a trap.
Sorry if my ramblings resemble those of a blind pig.
More of Don Miller’s ramblings may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1YR8au-BVuOSJ_WJlJAWc2sZShmp9F8UTvlrr9cmNiW957CDUbTdNsivE