Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

What’s the freakin’ deal, God?

Once, many years ago, I fell head-over-heals, stupidly, destructively in love. I thought that the object of my love was the young woman with the thin, silver glasses and blue eyes, but alas, it was the idea that she represented to me and not the girl that I loved. I’d sold my life to get that girl and then found that it was the idea of the girl that I had wanted, not the hard work of loving a fellow human being. I didn’t have enough emotional stability to love and care for myself, let alone creature as fragile as I.

I tell that to illustrate this: my whole life I wanted to really understand scripture, to truly know it and have a ready answer for any question. Now, I am almost there. I am no theologian, but I am beginning to have a functional understanding of the Holy Bible. And like that college freshman I once was, I again find that it was the idea that I loved. The reality of knowing scripture with a holistic understanding of the whole thing is really quite awful.

Scripture, you see, is chock full of enormous contradictions, which you never notice as long as it is spoon fed to you by someone who has pre-chewed it for you. I thought that this little project would close the remaining holes in my patchy faith, instead it is pulling it apart. All I want is truth, and truth doesn’t contradict itself does it?

Perhaps a quick explanation is in order. I grew up fundamentalist. From the fundies I inherited a somewhat critical mindset particularly of that dastardly rebel sect, the Pentecostals. Despite this redeeming feature, the Fundamentalist approach to the business of living is pure crap. No one ever obeyed themselves joyful. No one ever learned so much scripture that he spontaneously started actually doing what Christ said. Despite my misgivings, I stuck with Christianity, so I wouldn’t burn in hell. At college, I met a very charismatic young speaker, and resolved to set him straight on his absurd Pentecostal belief, that his charisma might be used to bring people to the true way and not seduce them down the road of non-critical thinking, rampant emotionalism, and constant fear of demons that stereotypically characterizes the Pentecostal realization of faith. A proud graduate of an uppity Christian high school I knew the Word like the back of my hand, and would soon have him straightened out. But since pride goes before the fall, I made sure to do my research before I spoke to him.

Imagine my chagrin! There is no evidence whatsoever that the gifts have stopped! Abandoning all pride to believe truth, I delved into scripture by topical analysis, finding that all the wacky crazy things that are required in the New Testament are never said to have stopped! I had a new answer to the question of “If my religion brings peace and love why am I so full of strife and hate?” I wasn’t obeying scripture! I joined a carpet-chewing, roll on the floor, speaking in tongues, vision receiving church. For 2 years, this church was my family. For 2 years I heard people speak in tongues, prophesy, roar like lions, laugh in the spirit, etc. I’d seen people slain in the spirit, manifesting demons, seen them flop like fish on the floor, and cry with wild abandon. You know the one thing I never saw?

Change. The holy kept wailing and lost kept dying. Once upon a time I had possessed a pretty sharp mind and I began to apply it to what was happening around me. I saw every trick in the book. The speaking in tongues was never translated (which is NOT in accordance with the teachings on tongues in Scripture). The prophecies were nothing more than standard cold readings, the radical method of giving we were supposed to have ended up looking a lot like the leadership putting money where they saw fit. Apostle in the scripture is an advisory position, but it just seemed to gradually turn into a command position. We seemed to have a revolving door of broken people coming in desperately hoping to get better, not getting better, and leaving. They didn’t try enough, faith enough, weren’t vulnerable enough etc. Never was the system at fault, always the people the system hurt were at fault. Always there was a revival in some distant land that none of us could verify. I knew my Orwell and it was high time to get out, so I did.

It left me lost, dazed and confused. So I quit everything. Quite doing whatever it is that Christians do to be Christians. After about a year I made right with some old Christian friends. If felt so good to be loved again that I decided I would not rest until I read the scriptures! And thus brings you up to speed.

In a nutshell: Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism are the right and left of Christianity, and are nearly totally alike in their total disregard for scriptures that don’t suit them. Both are crap. The first offers a religion so devoid of anything that feels anything at all you wonder what could possible induce anyone to stay in it. Pentecostalism on the other hand offers a cornucopia of religions experiences! Of course they don’t really listen to the teachings of Jesus, so if that is what defines “Christianity” (you’d sure hope so) then both missed the boat.

But, really, if the Apostle Paul doesn’t have to obey Jesus (I can site evidence if that interests you) why the hell should anyone else? I get to the point where I wonder, REALLY wonder, if this is what we are supposed to be doing at all?

February 22, 2008 Posted by | Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , | 6 Comments