Saturday, May 14, 2011

Generosity as a Struggle

A good friend of mine once told me, after reading my writing, that I lack generosity toward Evangelicals. He accused me of this and called me out on it as only a true brother could. I haven't been very grateful to him all the time, and he and I definitely have different views than he does, but that does not stop me from respecting him, and hopefully it doesn't stop him from respecting me. However, one need only look one post down on this blog to realize that I have not learned my lesson.

I did mean what I said, and I meant it in the sense that I disagree with movements. However, here's where things get sticky: I have friends that are likeminded, philosophers, unaligned Christians, and we tend to talk very easily. Then I have friends that are radical Atheists, traditional Christians (Reformed, Baptist, Christian and Missionary Alliance), agnostics, and everything in between. Some find their sense of "religion" in politics, some in a particular Church branch, some in other religions.

But these are all people. A blog of views can lose sight of that, and being generous is a difficult task, especially when one must take everyone into account and disagree in an attitude of generosity and good-will.

Because sometimes, the disagreement is in the words used, but people get upset. People lose it when confronted because they take it personally, they think it's about them when it's not. I speak, of course, of myself. I must constantly work to not take things personally that people say about me, and it'd be much easier to cut all ties and hide away from everyone and everything.

Easier, and totally inhuman. Not correct. Because sometimes the fact that someone's mad about what I've said means they care. Maybe they care about me as a person or about something I've attacked or something I've done. And it is so, so human.

I'm not an easily offended person. If someone tells me my beliefs are wrong, I'm all for discussing them. Very few things will cause me to lose my generosity in person. However, in writing it seems, I am just as susceptible as others I've seen on forums to "hiding behind my keyboard" and saying things in too drastic of a manner. It comes from being a philosopher, one writes strongly. However, philosophy and generosity need not be mutually exclusive.

Just because I've been taken the wrong way does not mean that was my intent.

Just because you think people are stupid for believing in God does not mean that they are, or that you have less "faith" and more "reason" than they do.

Just because my words have failed does not mean I will stop saying them.

Let us not forget, friends, that people will do wrong to each other just by existing, we are not the center of the universe, and other perspectives exist apart from what we think of as truth. The trick is to keep a spirit of generosity, conversation, and a love for the truth in our dialogue.

Friends, I write this in a spirit of repentance. I only wish to make myself and my writing better, and I wish to ask forgiveness for the rashness I have taken toward the traditions I am familiar with that is all too common of my generation, and for being all-too-often a representative of the type of religion that makes those on the other side of the looking glass point and say "that is why I am not religious."

I also must ask forgiveness for all of the times where my perspective has been the only thing I've considered, and I've failed to show proper respect and honor in my pursuit of life. I ask forgiveness because I am human, and always trying to do better. Release me if you wish.