Confessions of a Questioning Christian

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Hmm… interesting thought…

Ideas

Do you like feeling good without having to act on your feeling? Boosting your self-esteem no matter your competence or behavior? Then I’ve got the religious program for you.

According to the latest Pew report, almost 1 in 5 Americans identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” In other words, they have some feeling, some intuition of something greater, but feel allergic to institutions. Yet as we approach Passover and Easter, it’s important to remember that it is institutions and not abstract feelings that tie a community together and lead to meaningful change.

(MORE: Empty Pews: Everyone Is Misreading the New Numbers of Religiously ‘Unaffiliated’)

All of us can understand institutional disenchantment. Institutions can be slow, plodding, dictatorial; they can both enable and shield wrongdoers. They frustrate our desires by asking us to submit to the will of others.

But institutions are also the only mechanism human beings…

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Because God has such a great interest in forcing us into his matchmaking choices. Because God doesn’t want us to learn how to be responsible or learn from our experiences, because he’ll just puppeteer us into doing what “his plan” was all along. Because no girl would ever be single in God’s plan (all of those verses in 1 Corinthians extolling singleness must have just been for men). Because women shouldn’t learn to be happy, productive humans unless they know that God has promised that the singleness isn’t forever. If a woman were to ever think that God DIDN’T have someone in mind, she would go insane or lose her faith in God.

Calling this bullshit Christian misogyny of autonomous women.

 

I just read a blog by a girl who said she and a couple of their friends were walking around in Queens, and they got lost. They were cold, and they weren’t sure which direction to go in to get to the subway. They could have hailed a cab, she wrote, but it would have been expensive. Suddenly, a man wearing all white and carrying a bible walked around the corner and ended up leading them to the subway station.

She believes he was an angel. This angel is proof to her in the miraculous existence of a loving God.

I just gotta ask these questions:

  • You were lost in a city where 2 million people live.
  • You saw cabs and could have hailed one, but didn’t want to pay for a cab.
  • Your angel lead you to the subway station – in essence, lead you out and away from this dark place you didn’t want to be in.

Do I have that right?

I have a few more questions:

  • Since you didn’t want to spend money on a cab, this somehow warranted you some divine intervention?
  • The angel couldn’t have been doing better things? Like helping out some of the sex trafficking victims down on the Track? Providing a mother with some food for her kids? Helping someone who was sick suddenly be well? This angel, who suddenly was given the authority to intervene in the lives of some humans – when billions of people on a daily basis need some divine intervention – choses to help you find the subway station?
  • This place was so dangerous that you pretty little white people didn’t deserve to have to be there – and you were cold, too, so another huge reason to need an angel to bring you out of it — but the 2 million people who do live in this terrible place (as she makes it seem) don’t deserve some miracle to bring them out of their suffering, too?

I guess I’m confused.

I see what I would describe as a miraculous existence in a God who loves us not by trivial things such as being lead to a subway station, but when good people help other people. When justice is brought on behalf of widows, children, and orphans. When people sacrifice comfortable, safe, pleasant lives to help those who would never have those options.

I only see Jesus, or his philosophies, when people choose to “suffer” on behalf of those who are suffering.

Real suffering. Not being lost in a city, unable to find a subway station but unwilling to pay for a cab.

Posted on: February 8, 2012

News on Modern Day Slavery

On February 2, faith leaders gathered in the U.S. capital to pray. What difference will it make? What is the role of prayer, worship, and faith in ending social problems that I care about, like extreme poverty and modern-day slavery?

U.S. President Obama, in his speech to the gathered assembly at the National Prayer Breakfast, called on faith leaders to tackle tough issues like human trafficking. A high-profile panel of experts on modern slavery later addressed best strategies for faith communities to fight this blight as they meet it in their own backyards.

My own human rights agency, Not For Sale, is convinced as well that people of faith have a unique, vital role to play beyond the ending of forced labor. It’s not enough to extract an individual from bondage. Once people are set free from a rug loom, a rice mill, a brothel, then what? If we do…

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