So I've ran into an interesting problem. My sister who was raised largely in a secular manner is identifying as Christian. Not that she goes to church. Not that she reads the Bible. Not that she knows anything about the Bible. But she's becoming sensitive about any swipes I take at anyone who identifies as Christian. The last example was over Christmas when I brought up Huckabee blaming the Newtown shootings on lack of prayer in school. Her reaction was immediate as if it's a wound just waiting to be hashed out. I brushed it aside as my point was that there were more shootings in the 25 years prior to 1963 than in the 25 years after. But her assertion that I always hit Christians and her pain has stuck with me. It's left me with a question. When should I be respecting one's religion?
Some of you might not know me since I haven't been too active in the last couple of years. I'm anything but shy or reserved. But I'm not aggressive until my head is bleeding on the desk. What happens in the home where I grew up is anything is fair game for discussion. Usually politics while we drink beer around the fire. In the last decade that has certainly included many fervent Christians. I'm usually mocking something like the deciding factor for invading Iraq being Bush's apparent discussion with God on the matter. Or Palin lording her religion as the course to take in life while she has two grandchildren conceived out of wedlock. These jabs are sticking with my sister and clearly causing her some emotional pain. If she were ancillary in my life, I'd probably turn up the heat and watch her leave my life because I don't have need of those looking to defend Huckabee's or Bachman's. But this is my sister.
I would avoid hurtful discussions with people out of respect. If I run across a Muslim I'm not going to refer to their leader as a drunken repressed bi-sexual pedophile. I'd avoid that. In the same way, I'd not pick on Christianity until pushed if my sister were one. But she isn't one. She seems to be beginning to identify as one and is clearly starting to feel pain. So when do you respect it, even if she isn't being one? Does one need to know who Peter is before you give a crap about their position on Jesus? Does one need to know what Jesus said before you accept them as a Christian? When would you confer respect? This is for a family member and not a stranger on the street. And by respect, we're talking about avoiding legitimate points in discussions where Christians are often over the line saying stuff like theories are from the "pits of Hell". Where is your line?
Gaytor, last night I was on fire last night with thought, and my brain just wouldn't shut down. I only spent 1.5 hours actually sleeping, and the rest of the time writing down what was coming out of my thoughts. This happens to me quite a bit, but before a few months ago I never took the time to write things down. When my brain finally decided to rest, I usually lost the memory of the thoughts altogether so now I just write and continue to write them even if it means finding time to get rest in other ways or during different times of the day.
Any way, I wanted to pass this along to you regarding this thread, because my thoughts did center on you for a moment and what came to me I thought you might find useful.
Ask yourself and your sister this question: Is a Christian someone who follows Jesus, or someone who follows the bible? What I am about to say is something very heretical in the Christian community, but it is so heretical and so inflammatory that it is TRUE! Most Christians, if not all Christians, follow the bible and not Jesus. In fact, if you ask a Christian this question: "What is the Word of God?" Most - especially in conservative and fundamentalist circles will tell you "the bible." They will not say Jesus, even though the bible actually says that Jesus is the Word of God. The bible is just a recording of events interpreted through political, historical, and theological perspectives. Each author has an agenda and an interpretation that an observant, critical, and analytical reader must understand.
Also most Christians aren't Christians at all - they are cultural Christians, meaning they are only part of something because they were raised in it and never questioned it. Hence the absence of free thought. Most do not challenge the imbedded beliefs they were told as a child and therefore are stunted in their growth as a human being, and (in my perspective) a spiritual being.
After all, I prefer not to use the term "Christian" for myself anymore because of what it represents and how I was poorly treated by other Christians. I am simply a theist, though I lay claim to Jesus as my instructor, which requires more faith that a dead, errant book could ever provide.
"She seems to be beginning to identify as one and is clearly starting to feel pain".
She may be beginning to identify as a Cultural Christian ... valuing and promoting the positive messages about Christianity.
The pain she feels is 'empathy' for them and I think we should all move this way. Good on her.
I really think that atheists make better Christians than Christians because we know where to draw that line.
She may just need some assistance.
Those strident, in - your - face type atheists were very necessary when they arrived because they needed to be heard, they shouted about it and it opened the way for us.
We have arrived now and the way we speak about religion needs to evolve because there are heaps of atheists around like your sister who would like to talk about it without bringing up witch burnings etc
It's more important how one defines themselves than how you define them.
A lot of times, the religious can't grasp the concept that a criticism of religion does not equate to an attack on the religious. Moreover, a criticism of one religious person doesn't equate to the criticism of any other religious persons. Maybe try to illustrate this point to her? Unless, of course if she agrees with Huckabee, in which case I'd say she's too far gone.
Your sister seems to be at a point in her life where she started relying on her feelings rather than her thoughts to guide her, which isn't a problem, for the most part. Maybe try to figure out a way to discuss things on a more instinctual, emotional level in order to level with her?
I respect anyone's right to believe as they wish. That doesn't mean I respect WHAT they believe. I never initiate a challenge with a Christian on his/her beliefs; but if they challenge mine, all bets are off; they will receive my vigorous counterattack. I have a sister-in-law, a very nice lady who is a devout Catholic. In the 60 years I've known her, neither of us has ever challenged the other, out of mutual respect for the person, if not the beliefs. It's also because Catholics, in general do not discuss their religion.