Friday, June 11, 2010

Zealots and Buddies.

A friend wrote about the different ideas of what a Christian should look like.  Now, I'm not talking about visual appearance.  This is in the more broad sense of how does one behave in the world as a Christian.  That's a fascinating question to me. 

I was raised as a Christian, in a Calvinist denomination that has a great history.  I did not get as far into the training and indoctrination as some of my friends have.  Because of that, I am not familiar with some of the more intricate aspects of Calvinism, except to say that I understand the concept of predestination and how Calvin incorporated that into his Reformation.

Nevertheless, here we are in present day.  Christians, non-Christians, agnostics, and atheists all view each other with a great deal of skepticism, trepidation, hostility, and even hatred.  This is stupid.

People who know me personally know that I mostly gave up on my Christianity a long time ago.  I self-identify as Buddhist, but I'm not really that either.  It's just the closest thing, the most accurate label, I can find from a collection of labels and ideas that are all ill-fitting.  I say that only to relate some context for the rest of my thoughts.

Frequently in discussion threads, I see Christians of two types: Zealots and Buddies.  In a discussion thread the other day, a Zealot was making a lot of noise about how Christianity was under attack by others.  I'll avoid the nonsense accusatory labels he threw around.  This Zealot was supporting an argument that any one or any group that has anything negative to say about Christianity in any way should be shunned.  The specifics are irrelevant, but the end point is that he wanted to punish a group and threaten their existence because of perceived attacks against Christianity.

Later in the discussion, a Buddy Christ came along and tried the other phrase I see frequently that asserts that being a Christian is not only a thing you do on Sunday.

And that's where I get stuck.

I assert that the Zealots take the idea of Being a Christian All Day, Every Day, very seriously, and rightly so.

I'm concerned that the Zealots are trained on, indoctrinated into, and believe in an active, activist Christianity wherein it is the duty of the believer to take action towards making the world a Christian place according to their interpretation of Christianity.

I suspect that some Zealots even get worked up over the idea of "Interpreting Christianity".  So many of them, as far as I can tell, do not allow themselves the idea that what they believe is an interpretation.  They see it as the Word of God, Divine and Infallible.  Interpretation is Blasphemy.

To these Zealots, every day is an opportunity to be a Christian, and that means, to them, spreading the Word, and Defending against Evil.

OK, so far, I'm with you.  I may not believe the same details as you, but I'm all for the idea of making the world a better place.  But once we get into the discussion of what is, and is not, a "better place" then we start to have real problems.

Personally, I'm one for real examination of history and ethics as they relate to the concept of morality.  Christianity, especially New Testament Christianity provides a fairly good, mostly consistent, loving and inclusive guideline to morality.  It's not perfect in its message, and it's not perfect in its interpretations.  But, it's a good start.

Mostly, though, I do not want it codified into my society and culture straight from the page.  I believe that is a dereliction of our duties to determine our own fate and instead rely on the sketchy translations and interpretations of allegories, legends, and parables from two thousand years ago. 

This is a difficult topic for me and you, Dear Reader, can tell because I'm all over the place on this.

Let me try to regroup as I near the end of my etude.  I find it exceptionally difficult to interface with a Christian who has taken to heart the idea of All Christianity All The Time.  I want to be able to ask questions and challenge beliefs, but this Zealot type of Christian does not allow for that, intellectually nor culturally.  And the Buddies who spend Sundays telling themselves what good Christians they are because they were an example of Buddy Christ all week long are failing their responsibility to expand the nature of Christianity by allowing each to find their own way to happiness.

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