Friday, December 18, 2009

can we talk about jesus for a minute?: in which a frustrated religion student discusses problems with zealots

Okay, I must first warn my Christian friends that they may or may not be offended by the following blog entry. If you are, please know that this was not the intention, and I humbly ask that you lighten up and open your mind a bit....

Now, the story begins on a damp December evening, last night actually...A friend's facebook status was one of those "please repost if you agree" kind of things talking about how people are trying "to take the Christ out of Christmas," etc. I, for some unknown reason likely having to do with sleep deprivation and general aggravation, decided it was a good idea to comment and impart some Yuletide knowledge. All I said was that, as I (and many others) understand it, if any of the nativity tale is true, it isn't possible for Jesus to have been born in December; also, the Christian observance of Christmas was superimposed on the Pagan celebration of the birth of Mithras, who was also, incidentally, said to bring light to the world. Two fairly common facts that even a lot of more liberal Christians don't dispute. Well, youd've thought I pissed on a Bible and spit on a crucifix. I was told I was "full of it" and basically that "ideas" had nothing to do with her faith. She implied that I'd attacked her faith and religion and that she expected the same respect she afforded my beliefs.

Where to begin? The implication of attack? Refusal to acknowledge the historical issues of one's religion? The self-righteous overtones? How about the notion that faith and ideas are mutually exclusive? *sigh*

First of all, let me say that my comments were in no way intended to attack anyone's faith. Even when I was Christian, I revelled in telling people about the Pagan origins of Christian holidays. It isn't about undermining faith; it's about knowledge. I fail to understand how learning about your religion's historical and cultural underpinnings is problematic. By ignoring and denying these, you are in fact denying that religion has a basis in daily human life, when really that's ALL it's about--how we as humans interact with one another and attempt to understand the Universe. I don't think I would want to be a part of a faith that was so divorced from my life that the acknowledgement of a few historical, cultural, or literary revelations could destroy it.

My other big contention with this is the self-righteous assumptions made--not just by my friend but by many Christians. It seems to be quite all right for Christians to make whatever statements they wish about other religions or lack thereof, but if anyone outside their faith dares to talk about Christianity, it is automatically an attack. Guess what? Some of us are simply fascinated by religion and our critiques should not be seen as all-out warfare on you and your religion. If your faith isn't strong enough to survive a little debate, that is not my problem, it's yours.

Lastly, I actually do want to talk about Jesus. My personal faith does not recognize him as the son of any god, except in the way we are all children of the Goddess and God. However, in his teachings, there are things that mesh well with my ethics; what modern Christianity has done with those teachings usually does not. I have no issue with someone following Jesus or being Christian. Hell, I've known Pagans that see the historical Jesus as a face of the God. What I do have a sincere problem with, besides the general misuse of what were actually a few awesome ideas, is the way that many Christians have made Jesus, or rather specific beliefs about him, so sacrosanct that discussion is not possible. I don't want to convert you, I just want a conversation and for you to realize that the man and the originators of your religion were HUMAN and that it did not evolve in a sacred little bubble but alongside human civilization. Therefore, historical and cultural information is important to your religion and faith.

One last thought: everything is based on ideas. Just because it's religion, it isn't exempt. Someone once had the IDEA that following Jesus might be cool....I'm just sayin...

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