Friday, February 4, 2011


Sometimes, something you love gets so twisted, so distorted, and so bent out of shape that you cannot help but do something about it. Not because you are especially selfless or altruistic or because you know the truth that no one else does, but because you are human.

I had a conversation recently with two good friends about our time in Christian Institutions. Though many of those details must remain a mystery to most of my readers, suffice it to say we've all been hurt, we've all been attacked at the core of our being, repeatedly. The most damning part of it is that this attack was mercilessly carried out by people that genuinely think they are doing right, that they are acting for the benefit of those they have influence over.

There is a belief that is prevalent among Christians that we are somehow different from everyone else, better in some way, though we would probably never say better. The world is this clouded and dark place, and no one unsaved has any wisdom whatsoever, because they don't know God. Some would be more generous and say that their wisdom is accidental and they don't actually understand the core of their knowledge (God), or that they are allowed the knowledge by God, but only to a certain point, only gaining full knowledge when they "get saved."

The problem is, when you are used to having an enemy, you will always have one in some form or another. When you live to fight, you don't stop fighting just because no one else is around, and you probably have a legitimate reason for your need to fight, something that has never seen healing in who you are. I know I do. Sometimes, unfortunately, healing must come from being broken so entirely that you will finally give up your stubborn pride, your sense of superiority, and most of all, your fear that if you don't fight, you will lose.

When you defeat the atheists, you move onto agnostics. When you defeat them, you move onto other religions. When you defeat other religions, you must battle those that claim to be Christians and don't share your beliefs. It's all for Christ that you tear these people apart, you are a warrior for Truth, and you will point it out wherever you go, no matter what the cost, no matter how much you must humiliate and dishonor these people and yourself, they must know they are wrong so they can change.

Constant provocation, constant criticism, constant battling changes a person, no matter how they choose to participate. Even if it was never your intention to get involved in the war, you somehow end up in the middle, and no one involved gets out undamaged.

The result of this is a system wherein the superiors damage the ones they teach intentionally, to create this artificial character, this contrived spirituality and correct theology. Psychologically, you must agree not because it's true, but because of the consequences if you don't. The ultimate trump card here is the brand of heretic, the rejection from the institution, the social and intellectual ostracization of a person.

In other words, I am damaged and have come to the place where my life has been given meaning as a result. I will pass this on to you. We will be damaged, angry, and spiritual together, taking on the role of those that killed Christ, the persecutor, to each other. We will find truth through fear, violence, and fighting.

I am a problem solver. For the longest time, I've tried to fix this thing I love. The truth is, no matter how bitter or angry I've been, I love being a Christian. I'll identify myself as one readily so long as I know people understand what I mean, which is very difficult with the chaos Christianity has descended into screaming behind all of my words.

It's time to stop criticizing, stop being angry, stop allowing the destruction wrought upon us by others to determine how we act, and just be who we know we should be. When I think of Christ, he didn't spend his time trying to control people, trying to correct others' perceptions of him, trying to correct every single person about every single detail, and most of all, I don't see him spending his time damaged and angry because he was so misunderstood. When he was killed unfairly, treated horribly for no good reason, and subjected to the most intense kind of misunderstanding possible, he didn't resurrect and decide to destroy humanity.

And sometimes, when I get misunderstood, when I get cut off in traffic, when someone doesn't allow me to speak or assumes things and disregards me, I feel like he should have. Because I am fickle, I am angry, I am unreliable. It's pretty cool that Christ is not.

My contention is not over the existence of Christ, the validity of Scripture, the 5 points of Orthodoxy, or over any point of theology as we know it. We've screamed about that enough, and you have made up your mind about it. In conversation I will respect every view you have, and I ask the same from you.

My contention is that Christ is the most contrary, subversive, beautifully illogical, upside down, incredible figure I have ever seen. He literally still shines as an example of being the absolute opposite of every religion claiming to follow his name, because the way he lived and continues to exist is destructive to institutionalized religion, dogmatic theology, and to war itself.

Where I have been offered more anger, bitterness, movements, rules, conventions, theological imperatives, threats, and ugliness by the institution I've had to deal with for years, Christ offers honor, respect, love, and a lifestyle that transcends the holy war everyone seems to want to fight.

Instead of fighting fire with fire, we can become tranquility in the middle of war, light in the darkness, literally the opposite of the life that people keep telling us is the way to live.

Theology must be rebuilt again and again, and every time it is systematized, it must be destroyed because the center of the system is destructive to its' very existence. Because Christ didn't decide to unite with humanity to create Christianity, he walked with us to show us humanity as it is truly meant to be. He allowed for his own death not just for a metaphysical regenerative salvation, but because death is no longer the rule. Resurrection is. He disregarded religion because it was never meant to work from the beginning, it was a method that self-destructed under its' own inadequacy like everything else trying to show us what the divine is.

To those broken by religion, hurt by Christianity, embittered and angry and feeling like there is no other place to turn, you are offered the hope of Resurrection. The hope that when everything falls apart, there is always something new, something better, because you are a little closer to the truth, a little more knowledgeable, and you know things that no one else does.

You are someone that no one else can duplicate. You are truly human, in all of your broken glory.

Resurrection is not just a matter of becoming undying, it is becoming truly human, transcending the rules of life as we know them, with death being the ultimate rule.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why I Like Theology

Once, there was a man. He got a big deal made out of him because of how he lived the opposite way everyone else did. He never compromised who he was for others, he was misunderstood by even his closest friends, and he lived for far too short a time for the world to be just at all, because he was murdered by a government that made things up about him because it was threatened. He did things because it was who he was, not for gain or because of whimsy or superstition or to gain recognition or greatness in any terms that are logically measurable. His honor was impeccable, and that made him enemies everywhere he went. It also made him friends, all of whom profoundly failed him at some point.

Then a religion was made about him, with most of its' Western adherents talking about approximately a week of his life. Approximately 0.058% of his life is revered by people. Of course, only about 10% is known about him, bringing the number up to .58% of what is known. Becoming the focus of everything.

Rather than look at what's directly in front of us, on the pages of an ancient document, we make up metaphysical reasons to be a certain way, encasing it in trappings of religion, which is one of the things that this man was least interested in. Argue away on that one.

A monolithic religion, one of the largest in the world. I doubt he's surprised, but still. It is ironic that it runs exactly the opposite way that his life seemed to. Power, politics, legalistic religion, arguing, gossip, hatred, fakeness, deceit, guilt, and shame. That's not all there is to it, there is also love, social responsibility, truth, discussion, friendship, satisfaction, and good people.

I haven't stepped in a church in 5 years. You can bet it's not due to the good qualities that this has happened. However, one thing is inescapable about how I live: I am terminally fascinated this man that was here 2 millenia before me (approximately), and the way he chose to live. I am intrigued by the way he disregarded death, the redemption that he brought from things that didn't seem likely at all, and the way he became friends with some of the people that are probably considered the scum of the Earth. How he hung out with the rejected when he could've had a religion made all by himself in any religious establishment, power unending, and privilege beyond imagination. Because he could not be anything but who he was.

People focus on his death and the miracle of his continued life, the resurrection of the dead, but I think how he died is interesting. He stared power in the face and said "you cannot take what is important. you cannot stop or defeat me, all you can do is kill me. It was an extension of his life, which a selfish man would've said sucks. He didn't have a home, he didn't have many privileges for his time, and he traveled around being awesome wherever he could. He demonstrated love, he showed people what it meant to give oneself to others, to state what is true without hesitation, and to live and be truly human, as we are supposed to be.

I like theology despite 99% of the discussions I've had about it. It's a fascinating branch of Philosophy because my life has been touched by the divine, and it's part of who I am. Where others see circumstance, I see God doing stuff. Maybe they're right, but I believe myself to be right. Evil exists as a contrast to the way things are supposed to be, and it is everywhere. It is in all of us. But so is the imprint of divinity, and it's so easy to see if you stop looking for people to miraculously heal each other or to see a divine being physically or to have God speak in an audible voice to you.

Most religious people think of me as a universalist or an atheist, because I do not accept their religion as having influence over my life. Most areligious or atheist people, even though I get along with them better lately, think of me as religious or believing in silly things. It's amusing, and it's part of why I try to be who I am all the time. The man I admire, the man that still lives because death could not defeat him, always was who he was, and many despised him. I am nothing like him, I am broken and I do stupid and evil things all the time. I don't treat people how they deserve or in a loving manner, I am flippant and fickle, I have many personality flaws and most are quite evident. But, I try. Because I think it's worth it to at least try to live as a true human, as someone that rises above circumstance and is who they are regardless of others, and as someone who wants to know what the truth is.

I've been hurt by my own religious affiliation, and that's why I pretty much don't care about any religious institutions anymore. I've heavily attended 4, and only one of them didn't hurt me, because I am convinced I wasn't there long enough to be seriously hurt by them. But that said, part of me is missing when I'm not exploring theology, when I'm not discussing, when I'm not hanging out with people and bouncing philosophical and theological ideas off of them. I feel that I become static and never improve myself or my beliefs when that happens.

Maybe I'll write more about this later, now that I finally don't hurt enough to avoid it any longer.