On Religious Foundations and Non-Conformity
The following is an abbreviated exchange between myself and Mike from subversivechurch. It followed my brief comments regarding Contradiction and Surrender. I love conversing with both Mike and Chris from subversivechurch, and would urge you, if you appreciate the more in-depth subject matter of my blog, to also frequent their blog at subversivechurch.wordpress.com.
When we think something is proven or truth, then we start to build upon it, start to form our worldview around it as a foundation. Obviously if this truth turns out to be not truth, then we either tear down what we have built on said truth or we defend what we have built on said truth.
I think we can safely say that many people try to defend their religion, especially if it is being questioned. But it is exactly such a defense that starts things like the crusades, the moral majority and all sorts of other manmade atrocities carried out in the name of God.
Very true. Would you say it is instincts of defense that lead us to transform defensive action into oppressive action when power is grasped and our accustomed comfort or authority is challenged?
Actually that was a rhetorical question, I think I know what you would answer.
Actually, for those who see opposition as a threat to power, yes. I would say that many, rather hope that many, of the early church leaders were trying to consolidate Christianity. After years and centuries of oppression and martyrdom, it is very understandable to see why the acceptance of Christianty into the political arena would have been welcome and even seen as the product of all the suffering of past generations.
But it doesn’t make it right. So like our leaders in the mainstream church today, they defend their system, but are doing so based on good intentions. I have several friends who are pastors and do not see any deviousness in their plans for their church. It has to be the same with the leaders of old. But it is unfortunate they can’t be more flexible and organic. And really, it is ok to stick with a certain way of doing things, as long as one has an understanding that things may change, and it is ok if they change. But when people start to defend their way as the only way, then they are no better than those using power for more sinister means.
Why? Because it stifles the Holy Spirit.
Right, good intentions doesn’t equate to good systems. What is most unfortunate is when defenders of the consolidated, expansionist pseudo-faith cannot even consider their direction. Its one thing to not realize what Mother Culture is always whispering in our ear- the many types of mass behavior that she whispers. But it is another when ideas are suggested and far from being even considered. Do accepters of the subtle lies of Mother Culture think non-conformists are only trying to get personal attention? As though they all have un-pure intentions? What is it about conformity and mass behavior that intoxicates us? Or is it little more than a symptom of a greater lust, or a greater brokenness?
We all have at least somewhat good intentions, or at least all of those relevant ( hate that word ) to the circumstances I’m describing. I’m trying to understand why its so much easier to not understand, dismiss, and sometimes even demonize another’s ideas when it only takes a little honesty to realize that we’re all looking for the same thing. One of my favorite lyricists puts it well: “Brother have you found, the great peace we all seek?”
We’re scared of whats different. I suppose thats describing again the circumstance in the previous paragraph. These are all symptoms, I guess, or ways to describe the symptoms of something larger. Something I’m trying to find a word for. I would say “fallenness”, but that is to vague for my satisfaction.
You are right about non-conformity being a scary place. It is also at times a lonely place, which is why you see non-conformists talking about community as well. If it were not for my wife and kids, Chris would be my only community. There are a few, but thankfully growing number of people I have met online who, if I had no one here, I would pick up and move to be closer to for the sake of sanity and community. Yet, my faith in God has taken me this far and I can not go back to my starting point. Following Christ is an almost immediate step past the point of no return. Because we live in a society that considers itself christian, this point is not something readily visible or understood or taught. Bonhoeffer quotes Luther about taking community for granted. I find much solace in their words.
Also, the idea of being wrong is another big deterrence from stepping out in non-conformity. Looking like, or even worse, being proven a fool is too much for most people. It was something I struggled with for many years. When you see so many heading the opposite way of your non-conformist thoughts, those thoughts are chalked up as wrong or from the devil.
This is exactly why Chris and I blog. We hope that those who have those nagging thoughts that something should be, must be different, but are scared to follow them to fruition read of our journey, our thoughts and see that we are both confident and a little unsure and there is hope.