Monday, August 17, 2009

Things that Depress Me

About Evangelical Christianity:

The politics on both sides of the aisle: the Obamabots, who are now certain they've found clear scriptural support for socialized medicine. And the Right-Wingers, to whom homosexuality is almost as bad as murder.

Calvinism, and, even worse yet, Presbyterian churches who are so embarrassed by it that they forget they're supposed to preach it.

Prosperity preachers and the lies that they spew.

The never-ending lie taught to young women that they are only fit for a life at home, serving God by waiting hand and foot on a husband.

The constant change - the desire to be "relevant" to today's culture.

And most of all, the message that "you're done" - you've saved, and that's that. Finito. Signed, sealed and delivered, amen! Gah! This does not reassure me, people. It makes me want to lie down and take a break. If I'm saved, I'll work on that whole "getting closer to God" thing later. Seriously - take a look at my life: can you count the blessings? I can't. Things must be good between God and me if my life is this sweet, so I can worry about having a prayer life and gaining control over my sinful thoughts and emotions later on. Who needs all that time-consuming discipline and self-denial when God has already made up His mind and He won't change it? I'm going to the big house in the sky, baby - you told me all I had to do was to "ask Jesus into my heart" and I was done. Been there. Done that. Probably wore the t-shirt when I was a little girl. How does this message motivate me to do anything? And how, exactly, does it square with the idea that we are to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling"?

So, have I offended everyone yet? Probably so. My honest apologies. I know this isn't the most mature and adult way to go through a conversion, but I thought I had to say something on the subject nevertheless. Thanks for listening to me rant, y'all.


Htown Jenny said...

I'm way more amused than offended. I have been around this evangelical block a time or three myself--and since then spent more than a little time trying to pretend it all never happened....

So now we know what your conversion is from, it TO?

Htown Jenny said...

oops--I meant

WHAT'S it to?

Tari said...

Orthodoxy, more likely than not. We start our catechumens' class in a few weeks - we'll see after that is over.

So far it just makes sense to me, the more I read and the more I sit on Sunday and enjoy the liturgy. I want someone who can give me answers - real answers, old answers, answers that don't change when a new bestselling book comes out in a month. But also a place that acknowledges that there is mystery, and not always answers, inherent in Christianity.

Htown Jenny said...

Jenny Staff Johnson likes this.

Tari said...

So do I, very much!


Alison Fairfield said...

Philosopher/theologian Dallas Willard eloquently addresses what is at the heart of your gripes, Tari. You may be encouraged.

I also think it is helpful to be humble (not angry or mocking) regarding our spiritual journey, which, ugh, isn't directed by us in the first place. One of the most intelligent and winsome believers I know unwittingly started out in the cult parodied by Seinfeld!

Since pet peeves against evangelicalism are well-rehearsed, alternatively I suggest being depressed among folks for whom "Christianity is my most favorite way of life" to quote the wonderfully incisive Wm F Buckley. In other words when Christian tradition gets "hollowed out" by those who at root despise or disbelieve its whole historical theological basis.

But they can still do church pretty. And they don't make any uncomfortable demands either. Convenient, isn't it?

Tari said...

I don't want church to be convenient, nor do I want a plethora of goods and services provided as if I were merely a consumer of Christ, and not (trying to be) a disciple.

One book I've liked on the subject (although by no means an exhaustive study - just a good, short read) is Frederica Mathewes Green's The Illumined Heart.

Alison Fairfield said...

Your response says to me that we are "heatedly in agreement."

When I personally felt as you have recently (way back in the mid-80s!), I found myself under the gentle guidance of James Houston, professor of spiritual theology, at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada.

His class on the history of Christian spirituality filled in all the HUGE gaps that my mid-20th century fundamentalist upbringing had created.

The overview of all the centuries of Christian faithfulness -- from the Desert Fathers through Teresa of Avila (his personal favorite) and on to the Reformers and Anglicanism up to the present -- was simply transformative but not even as much as was being in the presence everyday of a "modern mystic" like Dr. Houston.

So I am confident that God finds a way to be very gracious to us in our spiritual disappointments.

He such a good God.