Sunday, December 12, 2010

Musings of an Almost-Convert Part 2: Christianity

I'm not sure where to start in regard to my experience with Christianity.  It was a long, sometimes painful, experience.  The experience continued far past my personal search for G-d in Christianity.  I have do desire to relive the experience, and I have no desire to denigrate any religion.  So, instead of discussing in depth my experience with Christianity, I will give you an overview and a few observations.

First, I want to say that I obviously still have a very strong painful reaction to my experience with Christianity, or I wouldn't have difficulty discussing it.

I was raised in what can only be termed an Evangelical church.  I began to question the religious beliefs of my parents when I was in elementary school.  So far as I can remember, no one took my questions seriously.  I was supposed to believe whatever the pastor taught me, and I was supposed to believe with blind faith.  I asked questions that were not adequately answered- ever.  By the time I was in high school, my faith was on full reverse.  I tried so hard to believe what I was taught.  After all, if I didn't I was going to go to hell.  Hell is a fearful thing.

After I left home, I still pursued the Christian religion.  I went to different churches.  I visited many different churches with other sailors.  I went to Chapel on Sundays.  I read my Bible.  Finally, after much soul searching, I decided it was time to move on.

Here are a few of the things I observed about Christianity.  Please remember these are my observations of the churches and people I knew and know.

First, Christianity is a religion that is built on fear.  Certainly, Christians talk about heaven a lot, but mostly they want to avoid hell.  Avoiding hell is the main motivation.

Second, many of the Christians that I knew talked about peace in their souls.  G-d gave them peace.  But, when they weren't talking about that peace, they were talking about the hardship in their lives.  They talked about the things they worried about.  They spent large amounts of time grieving for and praying for those that were "lost."  This is not peace.

Third, I have a problem with faith healing.  I will not go into detail, again, about my problems with faith healing.  If you would like to see what I have already written on the subject, please visit my previous post.

Finally, and perhaps most important, I truly believe that any religion that is based on fear is not truly what G-d would have us believe.  Certainly, I have no scripture to back this up, but I am not a Christian.

8 comments:

  1. I want to hug you right now.

    I'm a convert to Catholicism, born and raised in a strongly anti-Christian - and specifically anti-Catholic - home. So I kind of know where you're coming from. Except, I was wrong. My parents were wrong. I had to go to church for a year before I knew it, but they were all wrong.

    And I want to tell you that Christianity is not about fear of hell so much as it is about the Divine Mercy showered upon us by a loving Father (and through the hands of our doting Mother). And peace does not mean that we do not suffer or worry, only that our suffering has a purpose.

    Christianity is not for the weak of mind. The teachings of the Church are deep and counter-cultural and sometimes all of one's faculties must be brought to bear in order to understand her position, but always she teaches the truth in love. Holy Mother Church is entirely populated by sinful people, of course, but no matter how the truth is twisted or manipulated or even ignored, it remains. The truth is the truth, regardless of the messenger.

    Judaism is a beautiful faith and the mother-faith of Christianity and I certainly respect your decision to follow that path. It's one I travel now and then in order to understand the roots of my own faith, and to bring to fullness some things which are hard to pull off in this modern world (like Sabbath-keeping; boy, have the Jews got a good thing going there!) But I think it's very important for you to know that you are laboring under some very serious misunderstandings about what Christianity is. At the same time, I believe that you are "hooked" and God will lead you right up to the door so that all you'll have to do is walk through it. :-)

    I love you, Kristina.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kristina, I too was raised in a Faith Healing Protestant church. I think that most Protestant churches claim Faith Healing in the way you described. Some people even think that they are sick because of some sin in their lives. It's such a shame. I witnessed people talk in tongues, run in the isles, trip and fall, be pushed on the forehead and fall backward to be "slain in the spirit."

    I've even seen people carried into church so sick that they had to lay in the pew, because they don't believe in missing even one service. I watched people make prophesies that never came to fruition and children turn from God because their father died from cancer while their mother professed that God will heal him if the children pray for him because God listens to the prayers of children and to those who "truly" believe.

    I had SUCH a struggle with my faith because of all the craziness I witnessed around me.

    Recently, however, I've been so happy to study and understand the Catholic Church AS TAUGHT instead of as I "thought" it was taught.

    They compiled the Bible, they defer to science and do Not claim that every story of the Bible is literal. Rather, they view the Bible as a tool to glean information that helps us with our lives, rather than cause fear and trembling.

    There are many Catholics who "think" they understand the Church Teachings but if we look for ourselves and read the true formation and function of the Catholic Church, we find that they are more accepting, loving and precious than any Protestant church I've ever attended.

    I hesitated to write all of this to you, as I know you are on your journey and I don't want to "push" but the calmness that I've found has been so very liberating that I wanted to share. I hope that's okay.

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  3. Jennie- I actually meant to mention that my experience all dealt with Evangelical churches. Even though Gary was raised Catholic, my experience with Catholicism is only through You, Michelle R, and a couple other friends. So, my conceptions all come from my experience with Evangelical Christianity.

    I always found it so ironic that my pastor preached against the Catholic church so vociferously while truly knowing nothing about it. My mother was very worried that I would convert to Catholicism and raise my children as Catholic. It blows my mind the way so many Christian people treat the Catholic Church and Catholics.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shelley,

    I have thoroughly enjoyed following your journey. I know it's been a long and hard one. I've been reading your blog long enough that I was there when you first started asking your Catholic friends questions. I am so glad you have shared with us.

    Please, always feel free to speak your mind. That's one of the things I love about you.

    I have some things to say about the Bible being taught as a literal, but I won't get to that until I get to Judaism in my posting. :D

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  5. And, by the way, Ladies. I love both of you. Both of you embody the kind of woman I want to be. Thank you for being my friends!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I didn't have time to comment yesterday when I saw this. I did find it amusing that I read it while listening to "Mary's Boy Child":

    Oh my Lord...
    You sent your son to save us
    Oh my Lord...
    Your very self you gave us
    Oh my Lord...
    That sin may not enslave us and love may reign once more...

    I realize Harry Bellafonte is not the orator of any church dogma, but it's certainly not the hymn of a fear-mongering religion.

    However, my SIL was raised in a Lutheran church setting and has a similar understanding that the only reason Christians are good is to avoid hell. Fear of punishment is certainly a motivating factor, but it's the flip side of a coin: I don't cheat on my husband because I love him...and because I would ruin our marriage. I am not overly motivated by fear of him leaving me...as much as I am motivated by my love for him and my desire to not hurt him or us. Yet, I suppose someone could interpret my motivation ONLY as fear of being dumped.

    I teach my children using the New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism. It is in question and answer format: #1 Who made us (God). #2 Who is God (Supreme Being who made all things).

    #3 Why did God make us? God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.

    #4 What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven? To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love and serve God in this world.

    I am not trying to preach to you, and I hope you understand that. I am just trying to demonstrate that the foundation of Christianity is not fear, but rather love: God's love for us and our love for the Creator and the Savior.

    I love Judaism and if I could not be a CATHOLIC, I would be Jewish. Most of our holy text is shared. We share the same God, the same laws. It is only through understanding Judaism that one can truly appreciate God's plan for mankind and the beauty of Christianity which is the fulfillment of the prophesies.

    I searched for the truth for 12 years. It was quite a burden to carry around. I am glad you have found a home, Kristina. May God continue to guide you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I didn't have time to comment yesterday when I saw this. I did find it amusing that I read it while listening to "Mary's Boy Child":

    Oh my Lord...
    You sent your son to save us
    Oh my Lord...
    Your very self you gave us
    Oh my Lord...
    That sin may not enslave us and love may reign once more...

    I realize Harry Bellafonte is not the orator of any church dogma, but it's certainly not the hymn of a fear-mongering religion.

    However, my SIL was raised in a Lutheran church setting and has a similar understanding that the only reason Christians are good is to avoid hell. Fear of punishment is certainly a motivating factor, but it's the flip side of a coin: I don't cheat on my husband because I love him...and because I would ruin our marriage. I am not overly motivated by fear of him leaving me...as much as I am motivated by my love for him and my desire to not hurt him or us. Yet, I suppose someone could interpret my motivation ONLY as fear of being dumped.

    I teach my children using the New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism. It is in question and answer format: #1 Who made us (God). #2 Who is God (Supreme Being who made all things).

    #3 Why did God make us? God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.

    #4 What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven? To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love and serve God in this world.

    I am not trying to preach to you, and I hope you understand that. I am just trying to demonstrate that the foundation of Christianity is not fear, but rather love: God's love for us and our love for the Creator and the Savior.

    I love Judaism and if I could not be a CATHOLIC, I would be Jewish. Most of our holy text is shared. We share the same God, the same laws. It is only through understanding Judaism that one can truly appreciate God's plan for mankind and the beauty of Christianity which is the fulfillment of the prophesies.

    I searched for the truth for 12 years. It was quite a burden to carry around. I am glad you have found a home, Kristina. May God continue to guide you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I didn't have time to comment yesterday when I saw this. I did find it amusing that I read it while listening to "Mary's Boy Child":

    Oh my Lord...
    You sent your son to save us
    Oh my Lord...
    Your very self you gave us
    Oh my Lord...
    That sin may not enslave us and love may reign once more...

    I realize Harry Bellafonte is not the orator of any church dogma, but it's certainly not the hymn of a fear-mongering religion.

    However, my SIL was raised in a Lutheran church setting and has a similar understanding that the only reason Christians are good is to avoid hell. Fear of punishment is certainly a motivating factor, but it's the flip side of a coin: I don't cheat on my husband because I love him...and because I would ruin our marriage. I am not overly motivated by fear of him leaving me...as much as I am motivated by my love for him and my desire to not hurt him or us. Yet, I suppose someone could interpret my motivation ONLY as fear of being dumped.

    I teach my children using the New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism. It is in question and answer format: #1 Who made us (God). #2 Who is God (Supreme Being who made all things).

    #3 Why did God make us? God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.

    #4 What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven? To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love and serve God in this world.

    I am not trying to preach to you, and I hope you understand that. I am just trying to demonstrate that the foundation of Christianity is not fear, but rather love: God's love for us and our love for the Creator and the Savior.

    I love Judaism and if I could not be a CATHOLIC, I would be Jewish. Most of our holy text is shared. We share the same God, the same laws. It is only through understanding Judaism that one can truly appreciate God's plan for mankind and the beauty of Christianity which is the fulfillment of the prophesies.

    I searched for the truth for 12 years. It was quite a burden to carry around. I am glad you have found a home, Kristina. May God continue to guide you.

    ReplyDelete

Please, be respectful. We're all friends here. We can disagree with respect.

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