The conversation is engaging: OPEN LETTER TO A BLOGGING CHUM which is yesterday’s post – 8 And a slight change of plan from that intended …
Because as part of the back and forth, Ark made the comment so Susan: “So, no proselytizing? You attend church?” (Definition of proselytize: to recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution, or cause).
Ark has used the term many times. So I joined the thread to illustrate that “proselytizing” (as taught) was a choice not an obligation: “I am leaving for a car park in a moment. A small number of us go there each week with hot and cold drinks and packets of biscuits. This has been happening for 13 years (long before my time). It used to be supported by the local churches who have since withdrawn their support. “ And went on to say that: “I have been going there for three years. I have been asked once about “Jesus” and who “he was”. The only answer I had was that he was my best friend. The response was a curious “oh”. That is the only time I have mentioned “God stuff”. Because we are all committed to one thing: not “proselytizing” and not “making disciples”. “
Ark’s response was: “Perhaps it would have been more truthful had you responded: ”Jesus is my bestist, invisible 2000 year old smelly little make believe friend in the whole wide world and I talk to him. Even while I am on the toilet .. An’ he listens…. honest. And answers prayers. But he doesn’t look while I pee. He can be your best friend too, if you just confess you are dirty rotten sinner and say he made the entire universe and was crucified for all our sins, including yours too. And then I’ll give you one of these Jammie Dodgers and a can of coke. How about it? Are you really ready to confess to Jesus?”
Tildeb had joined a slightly different thread earlier in the same conversation and I asked him about love: “The closest to verbalising that, for me, is unconditional love (which I see as being a common currency most people don’t even realise they already have available to them). And which may be the biggest reason for my wishing to influence those of religion (and cultural Christianity/faith) which is (a term) so apt for so many.”
Tildeb: “Now, perhaps it’s because of my study of childhood psychology that makes me more aware of why and how we are attuned to picking up even the slightest hint of deception, so I can’t help but think behaving virtuously for reasons other than desiring to be virtuous in our treatment of others casts a shadow when we attribute something as vital as love to someone and something beyond ourselves acting THROUGH us. That makes us puppets, doesn’t it?”
Paulfg: “This “more than” does not make me an agent. It makes me “as one”. So I am not seeking approval from “more than” – I am living in balance with me and who I am (and am becoming). Much like driving on the right (the wrong side) or the left (the right side of the road) – the journey and destination could well be identical. And for some it is therapy, for others the gym, for each “something” that connects with the better self “I want to be” (or think I should – and that is another story). But what confuses me here is the “why”. Why my “more than” which is me, is flawed compared to your “I am” which sounds suitably biblical (and a phrase I often use).”
All the quotes above are my choice of extracts from a very much longer conversation – if you have the time and curiosity it is a conversation worth reading.
I found something I had not expected yesterday.
Using a period of 13 years to illustrate the absence of “proseltyzing” (as taught) is meaningless because of one occasion I didn’t think (in that moment) to give an atheist’s take on the bible (as taught).
And splitting the motivation for love much as the atom is split. Which doesn’t change the “atom” – but arrives at a conclusion that my “application” of my atom is bad.
I am finding more and more … we ALL live by our personal “application of belief” (by any definition) that changes as we are changed by our living – that our “beliefs” change with that living. Because if they don’t … are we living to our fullest – or our safest?
And that – I think – is a really good thing to learn. Because then – maybe – we have an opportunity to begin to accept the fact AND fiction of our motivation for application of beliefs as living choices. And that might just help understanding each other better – to treat each other with more kindness – and (maybe) find that we CAN change “today” together AND make a better “tomorrow” (for everyone) TOGETHER.
Because isn’t that what this whole “right or wrong” … this “religion stuff” … this faith stuff … this sacred text stuff … is all about?
How we apply what we believe? With real people. Like me, Ark, Susan and Tildeb.
Or being asked by one young adult, surrounded by her giggling friends: “Who is Jesus?”
What courage – to ask aloud in a public place – surrounded by her friends – who all live publicly by a different teaching: “The bible is boring – fuddy duddys read the bible and go to church – you can’t be one of us if you are one of them.”
That was the bravest thing I have seen by a young person in all my time there. That takes much more guts (and trust) than me sitting here writing about it.
So why on earth (or in heaven) would I want to make her choose? All I wanted in that moment of my living and hers was to help her to keep asking questions. I chose an answer I hoped would NOT make her choose. And I hope that fleeting moment might, in some way, encourage her to keep asking her questions as she lives her life.
Because isn’t that what we all want?