Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Deus ex Machina: Christianity in the Information Age

So internet we've known each other for about a month now so I figure I should come clean about something. I'm not sure if you're going to like it but if I don't say something now it's just going to be tougher for both of us in the long run. I'm a Christian.
I knew you were going to be an ass hole about this Internet
Now the last time I openly talked to a friend about this his response was "WHY?! HOW CAN YOU BE SO STUPID?" I have no idea how he talked in all capitals but he was clearly agitated about me being religious and many people I have met seem to be fully on board with a lot of things I say until I drop the J bomb on them. For some reason you lot have lots of preconceptions about us and I have no idea why.
Oh wait... now I get it.
So this week's blog post isn't about boobs, robots, cats or sweet space lasers. It's about serious stuff; beliefs and feelings and being nice to people. If this disappoints you feel free to tune in next week when I'll probably be going on about something much less boring. If you want to actually read something meaningful however, stick around.

Now I don't pretend to be a mouthpiece for God nor do I think that my opinions are any more important than anyone else's but I'm hoping to set the record straight a bit tonight. I've been hearing a lot of things about the Church and its inhabitants recently that don't really add up so I've decided to step up on my virtual soap box and have my say. I'm fully aware that this makes me seem like some kind of evangelical ass hole on a street corner but hear me out.

I Don't Hate or Fear Homosexuals

Us Christos and gay people have had a bad track record for some time and it is true that quite a few of us have issues with them on some level. I think this comes down to a lack of understanding on our part and an inability to process this ignorance. Homophobia is an ugly and stupid thing and I personally want no part in it,  I have met many wonderful gay men and lesbians, some of which I count as my closest friends.
No homo
I don't really understand how men can find men attractive and the bible says some pretty specific things about homosexuality but that doesn't mean that I have any right to comment on what the gay community get up to. The bible actually contains more warnings about greed, theft, lies, bad council, drunkenness and foolish talk than homosexuality so by all accounts I'm just as bad as anyone who has touched another man's balls in a romantic setting. Any homophobia you find amongst God's people is a purely human failing, not a divine one.

I Don't Think I'm Better than Anyone Else Because I'm Christian

'Holier than thou' is a phrase I hear banded about in reference to us God Botherers a lot and it's an unfortunate truth that many Christians can come across very arrogant and aloof when attempting to describe their faith. The word Holy itself is loaded with cultural and religious connotations but if we strip it back to its Hebrew origins we see a different picture. Holy or Qadosh in ancient hebrew actually means "separate". Not better, not more righteous or pious, just different. I would describe myself as holy in this sense and I doubt anyone would have an issue with it.
I was also holy as a child
I have talked about how much I dislike mainstream culture before and I don't hate it because I'm a Christian and it's full of sinners, I hate it because its shitty. I'm just as much of a sinner as many non-Christians. Sin is the great unifier, the darkness in us all holy or not so for me passing judgement on others is out of the question.

I'm not a Christian out of Ignorance or Indoctrination

Religious schooling has never made sense to me and appears to make better atheists than theists most of the time. While I was brought up a Christian by my parents my choices when it comes to faith and how I live my life have always been my own and I know they are proud of me for it. I have definitely done some things that don't make sense to them but I know they respect me enough to let me work things out on my own. 

I also have a reasonably deep understanding of nature and evolution (I studied microbiology at university) and have heard all the popular intelligent arguments for and against religion so what many people think are subjects of vigorous theological debate tend to leave me cold. I guess the major reason I'm still a Christian is that it's the road less travelled and narrow paths have always seemed more interesting to me, they tend to lead to the most interesting places.

So what am I trying to say? 

I guess the main point I'm trying to put across is this: us Christians are similar in a lot of ways to everyone else so we all have similar failings to everyone else. We are doing our best to be better people and we want  to be nice guys like Jesus was but its hard and it makes us feel a bit conflicted at times. This makes us say stupid things and act like reactionary idiots sometimes - in fact some of us are so misguided and full of hate we're causing more harm than good (we're looking at you Westboro Baptist Church) - but at our core we want to be good. If you give us a chance you might actually like us.

Stay Crunchy Internet


  1. Really interesting post, thanks for having the courage to speak plainly about your beliefs. There is so much snobbery and hostility from all corners when it comes to religion; I have had interesting reactions from theistic friends when they learned I am an atheist. I also get odd reactions from atheists when they find out that I participate regularly in the postgraduate Christian community, date a Baptist, and am generally very interested in philosophy and theology. I can appreciate the guts it can take to speak plainly and openly about what may be unpopular beliefs.

    A few comments, which you can feel free to address or ignore as you see fit:

    1. Homosexuality and the Bible
    The Old Testament is pretty clear on this one, but many Christians believe that Christ fulfilled the old covenant and hence the Old Testament laws are somehow less relevant. I've never quite got a clear answer here; the rules have still to be followed, but we don't have to stone gays (etc.) either. Seems like a bit of doublethink, but I don't claim to be an expert theologian. Could you comment?

    In the New Testament it's pretty clear that Paul probably didn't like homosexuals, though his letter to the Romans which touches on this seems more concerned with inappropriate religious practice than bum fun. But Jesus had nothing to say on the matter, so why do we see Christians quoting Paul so eagerly? Thoughts?

    2. The road less travelled? I am not so sure. Given that something like a third of the world's population (give or take a billion...) identify as Christian, making Christianity the single largest belief system on earth, I don't buy this statement. Of course, atheism (if you lump all 'irreligious' types under this label) is getting pretty big these days, though there is a lot of stigma in some places (particularly America), so I won't try to plead that atheism is the road less travelled.

    3. The Pope is a douche. Discuss.

    1. It would appear my sister has rushed to my defence before I checked my blog and in doing so appears to be coming across as a bit self righteous because she doesn't quite understand how to internet. Allow me to respond to your points.

      1. the old/new testament dichotomy is always a bit of an issue for me but I think the reason Jesus didn't mention homosexuality is because it wasn't high on his list of things he wanted to address, firstly because it's not really a force for evil in the world (then or now) and secondly because as a basic law he accepted that homosexuality is sin. In the book of Proverbs Solomon talks a lot about wise men holding their tongues and Jesus was actually a pretty taciturn guy.

      Paul said alot of things and wrote alot of the bible so statistically (if hes equally inspired by God as any of the other apostles) we're more likely to quote him than anyone else. also as Christians we unfortunately fall foul to the argumentative theory of reasoning quite often ( for explanation) so many Christians quote Paul to justify themselves and "win" at arguments even though we shouldn't be trying to. To me it seems like It's a combination of theological favoritism (an unfortunate symptom of being human) and cold hard math.

      2. The road I personally refer to isn't actually a direct reference to Christianity but my personal journey as a man of faith. Obviously lots of people are Christian but I am also a man of scientific reasoning and analytical thinking. That doesn't make me better than anyone else but the Venn diagram where those two worlds intersect has a much smaller overlap so I get exposed to interesting information from both sides of the debating hall. This leads me into more interesting places than purely following one of those theological stand points, or indeed one of the myriad schools of through housed within them.

      3. The pope is the carrion king of a decaying and outdated governing system which I wish would just give up and die all ready so we can all get on with our lives. The Catholic Church is a stain on history and religion and I constantly live in fear that my walk as a Christian may have been tainted by its filthy fingerprints.

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  2. 1. Homosexuality and the Bible

    I think people quote Paul more eagerly than Jesus on this matter because:
    1) Paul seems to have more to say about homosexuality because, in his role as advisor to the new churches springing up all over the place, he kind of had to address it. He would have been on the receiving end of lots of people hurling questions at him about how the new law compared to the old law because they were going through such a period of change. So Paul was doing his best to provide them with a reference point by making comparisons with the Old Testament principles, so homosexuality was bound to come up. Jesus was too busy offending the pharisees and being generally miraculous during his lifetime to have to go too much into the nitty gritty stuff like Paul does later. Jesus was messing everything up in a glorious way and Paul was the one dealing with the result of all that!
    2) We quote Paul more on this matter perhaps because we find it easier to relate to Paul. Paul was just a human with a divine calling on his life who had some bold opinions. Any of us could be Paul. And Paul was subject to the same pitfalls as us, he gave advice and made claims that he perhaps hadn't made completely water tight (let's be honest, he wrote so many letters at such a rate that he must have just been writing with great rigour and passion). Paul should not be viewed as the be all and end all when it comes to New Testament principles. He was a dude who knew a lot about J dog and was in there with God but he wasn't God. Now Jesus, HE was God and HE is where we should look for an example of how to love people. And he loved the sinners, the prostitutes, the lepers, the homosexuals. He was a friend of sinners, and that really annoyed the Pharisees who made it their business to condemn sinners and kill Jesus. As Christians trying to follow in Jesus' footsteps there is more evidence suggesting we should make it our mission to befriend homosexuals than condemn them. What Jesus had going for him was that he could see past the sin and love the sinner. This is something Paul, and we as human beings in general aren't so good at.

    2. The Road Less Travelled

    The road less travelled (Robert Frost? If thats not where your reference was coming from then you should read the poem). I think you make this claim because you aren't referring to the kind of 'Christianity' that a third of the population flippantly write on their census forms. Therefore, yeah I'd agree that it is the road less travelled, the road where saying you are a Christian actually means something, actually impacts on the choices you make and the way you live your life. The kind of faith that is gets annoyed with religiosity and centres on a relationship with God above all other dogma and doctrine.