With God's Grace
The Topmost Apple has an important post this morning. It is a criticism of the behavior of Christians towards non-believers. Hard to look at, but important, nonetheless:
Natalie Angier is one of my favorite writers; I've read her columns for years in the New York Times in the Tuesday Science section.
This article is about why she's raising her daughter as an atheist. What struck me most as I read was not her passionate defense of science and of the scientific method; I'm totally with her there. What makes me sad is the very negative idea she has of what Christianity is. And not without reason, I have to say. Her eight-year-old daughter has been told, more than once, apparently, that she's "going to hell." Angier mentions the Boy Scouts, who have "kicked out Darrell Lambert, a model scout if there ever was one, because he refused to say he believed in God." She notes that "This year, according to the Washington Post, some 40 states are dealing with new or ongoing challenges to the teaching of evolution in the schools. Four-fifths of our states."
An excerpt from the article:
So, yes, of course, humility in the face of cosmic grandeur is always warranted; but let us not forget that Einstein sought to the very end of his long life to honor that grandeur by seeking to understand it, bit by bit, with his weak little intellect. How much better, in my view, is that approach, of humility crossed with an unslakable curiosity to delve the majesties of nature; over the sort of hooey humility that we benighted and defeated “liberals” are supposed to be mastering, that preached by the evangelical superstar John Stott, who, according to David Brooks, does not believe that “truth is something humans are working toward. Instead, Truth has been revealed.” As Stott writes: "It is because we love Jesus Christ [that] we are determined…to bear witness to his unique glory and absolute sufficiency. In Christ and in the biblical witness to Christ God's revelation is complete; to add any words of our own to his finished work is derogatory to Christ."
Just as Lewis Black said on “The Daily Show” about the proposal that gays should be barred from teaching, “Well, there goes the school play!” so with Stott we can bid the NSF, the NIH, MIT goodbye. Who needs Heisenberg’s uncertainty or Einstein’s relativity when we’ve got two ox, two mules and the nativity?
Oy vey, these are values? These and a subway token won’t get you on the subway.
How sad to miss out on the beauty of religion, the depth and grandeur of it. How sad that reasonable and loving people are so turned off by Christianity - and how sad that they often have reason to be so. I have to say that I'm starting to feel that way myself; I don't know how much more abuse I can take from other Christians before I'll be out the doors forever. I'm just one of many, of course, in that respect; the problem is that unfortunately, this is exactly what those abusive Christians want to have happen.
Here's the last paragraph of the article, and where the title of this thread comes from:
I don’t know the answer to fear of death, surprise surprise. But I find it interesting that religious people, who talk ceaselessly of finding in their religion a larger sense of purpose, a meaning greater than themselves, at the same time are the ones who insist their personal, copyrighted souls, presumably with their 70-odd years of memory intact, will survive in perpetuity. Maybe that’s the real ethic of atheism. By confronting the inevitability of your personal expiration date, you know there is a meaning much grander than yourself. The river of life will go on, as it has for nearly 4 billion years on our planet, and who knows for how long and how abundantly on others. Matter is neither created nor destroyed, and we, as matter, will always matter, and the universe will forever be our home.
Yes. And that's a religious statement right there, a profession of God, a statement that many people can (and will) believe in. Attention must be paid; The Church is going to destroy itself if it doesn't get its act together.
Read it all. Look at what's happening to this beautiful religion that believes that there is a "splendor burning at the heart of things," and that all people - all people - are of worth, even and especially the least of us.
Look at what's happening.
I used to be embarrassed to tell people I was a Christian because of all the stupidity, morbidity, and hate that is spouted in the name of Christianity. When my child was born, I thought about all the things I wanted for her, and wanted her to be able to achieve. I wanted to be good, and do good for others. I wanted her to be free, someone who does what she wants to do, not what others tell her to do. And I wanted her to be the kind of person who works to change things when she sees something that is not right.
When I looked at my own life, I realized that I wasn't any of these things. I worked a job I hated. And when I found something I didn't like, I walked away from it.
How would my child ever learn when that was the example I modeled?
From that day forward, I tell people that I am a Christian, because I do believe in Christ and his Graceful sacrifice for us. Just as I must model what a good person is for my daughter, I am responsible to model what a good Christian is to the world. I don't think I do it that well, but I'm giving it a shot.
The point is, while there are many Christians with whom it is an utter embarrassment to be lumped, that should not be our concern. Instead, praise and thanksgiving for His Grace should be our concern. And standing up for what is Right and Good should our my concern.