Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fundamentalism is Alive and Well and Living in Greater Philadelphia

Last year, my neighbor, who is a born-again Christian, talked me into going to a community Bible study.  It was inordinately stressful for me, well-intentioned though she may have been.  From the beginning, they expect you, on the first day, to make a school year long commitment to the community Bible study.  I asked whether or not I would have to go to every single one, and they said, of course there could be exceptions for vacations.  But other than that you were expected to go every single time.  What if I just didn't feel like it?  Or what if I just wanted to try it out a few times to see if I could stomach it?  So, that was the first danger sign.

This was supposed to be a Bible study, but even the workbooks extrapolated from the Bible, not new and wonderful insights or historical context, but personal questions about how these few verses relate to YOU.  Personal disclosure was not only encouraged, it was expected.  The way it was handled didn't even foster community, but a spirit of competition and one-upsmanship about who was the best Christian and who did God favor the most.  Well, no one has to remind me that I am not favored by God, but remind me they did.  My core group leader said at the beginning that you didn't have to know much, if anything, about the Bible in order to participate.  But I wondered, are you allowed to participate if you DO know something about the Bible?

Sin.  It deteriorated from there.  It became a place where people could air their grievances about "sinners."  People they worked with, friends, family, anyone who wasn't a "real" Christian.  How one makes this determination was never explained, but for some odd reason, it was never the accuser who was guilty of sin.  Even worse, it became a political venue for people who espouse very conservative beliefs in the crudest way.  We would have to listen to these diatribes against abortion and gay marriage before breaking off into our little groups.  As it is with preachers, we had no opportunity to respond or discuss with the lecturer about their, not God's opinion.  Because, of course, their beliefs about God or Christianity are tantamount to God's truth. :sarcasm:  Nothing could be further from the truth, but try explaining that to fundamentalists, or the average preacher.

In all, I had to leave.  Especially the personal attacks against "sinners" made me feel even personally attacked.  There was great hostility in the air.  And I'm not perfect either.  I would hope that a thorough examination of conscience would lead others to that same bombshell. 

Still looking for that which I have not found.    O Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.


StellaCollector said...

Hey its a good blog keep up the good work, I understand re having Christian friends...sometimes it pays to say no, religion IMO is such a personal thing
Cheers from Aussie Stella

Adult Student said...

Thank you for your comment. :)