A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Religious Equations and the Ooze of Wrongness

The way people talk sometimes it would seem the world must be divided between heartless religious people and immoral atheists.  Religious people are irrational, judgmental fanatics and atheists just don’t care about anything except for preventing people from practicing their religion.  But when I look around me this is not what I see.  I see good people who have been taught, often through family or culture or experience, one of two equations:

Christian = anti-gay, anti-abortion, condemning non-Christians
Therefore in order for Me=Good  I must also = Christian
and therefore Me=anti-gay, anti-abortion, condemning of non-Christians, etc.


Christian =anti-gay, anti-abortion, misogynist
Therefore Christian =irrational, bad 
Therefore in order for Me=not irrational and bad
I = anti-religion

Many, many folks are just trying to get by, trying to survive, without time or energy for the privilege of engaging in deep philosophical research.   The effort of daily living is plenty to handle.  So, whichever equation brings order to their world is more out of exhaustion than ignorance or cruelty. 

Yet such equations lead us away from the unity we need.  We need to be uniting against something I am not sure how to name but perhaps could be thought of as “the ooze of wrongness.”  Some might like to call it evil but the word evil can almost seem majestic or to have some kind of backward honor.  The wrongness of which I speak is not a villain we can delight in hating and whose power leaves us awestruck.  Rather it is a slimy wrongness which creeps into our daily lives and festers.  It is something which churns our stomachs yet continuously evades our grasp.   It is wrongness which says if a corporation is to blame for wrongdoing than no one is to blame.  It is the wrongness which claims money as free speech ignoring any voices who would point out if one can purchase a million times more speech than another then there is nothing free about it.  It is the slime which labels greed as good business.  It is also the ooze of arrogance which allows my enlightenment to condemn others. Sometimes this looks like proudly promoting organic, and GMO free one moment and bemoaning food prices and world hunger the next as though food can be produced without a cost, without difficult decisions, without labor.  Just because it sometimes grows on trees doesn’t mean it is free.  On the other hand, it sometimes looks like an arrogance which says “Farmers are feeding the world so you better shut up and like it.”  The ooze of wrongness invades our sophistication allowing us to condemn the ignorance of our neighbors and their superstitions without acknowledging their pain or the wisdom they may have which goes beyond philosophy or religion or education and into the heart of life.  The ooze of wrongness is anything which encourages us to see our fellow life forms as anything other than brothers and sisters.

This ooze of wrongness manifests itself in many forms.  It is also today a delightful combination of arrogance as I choose my pet subjects as illustrations in the above paragraph, embarrassment over the place of privilege which I know informs my words despite my best efforts, and a sense of the impotence and inelegance of my words which tempts me to give up. 

None of us are immune to the ooze of wrongness.  The only defense I know of is continually attempting to love one another and treat one another as we would want to be treated.  This is the power of love which transcends religion, philosophy, nationality or any other category our limited human minds can create.

Let us join together to fight the ooze of wrongness.

It’s not much of a battle cry but hopefully you get what I mean. 


Charlene said...

So the faulty term in both of those "proofs" (or equations) is, of course, the "Christians = anti-abortion, anti-gay,etc." There's no sound Biblical (or otherwise) reasoning for it. If we got rid of that assertion it would help matters tremendously. But until Christians themselves give it up, its going to be hard for the anti-theists to do so, because all the evidence they're seeing (how Christians act) points that direction.

Sheri Ellwood said...

I sooo agree there is no sound biblical or otherwise reasoning for that part of the "proofs", Charlene. There really are many Christians who have given that up and of course way too many who haven't. I understand why anti-theists might continue focusing on those who are anti-gay etc. as long as the generalized American/civil religion (if you know what I mean) continues to be that way. However, it has occurred to me lately the judgments we pass on people based on their beliefs may be a bit elitist as we seem to assume people have time, energy, education level etc. to think much about such issues. Does that make sense?