Friday, April 29, 2011

I Like Religion, but Not Religious People

Is that possible?  I even thought of becoming a nun for  a time, because I liked the idea of living for God and having some meaning in my life.  But the religious people I've encountered, some were all right, but some were so mean.  I was especially surprised by how bitchy and catty the nuns could be, as well thought of as they are.  They seemed to think they had reached some level of perfection to which all others must conform.  They were constantly trying to "convert" people, in the worst sense.  I guess it almost goes without saying that they were intolerant of gays.  Many of them were totally intolerant of everything that they viewed wrong with other people, and they always made their views known.

What's really upsetting about this, for me, is that it's so totally contrary to legitimate Christianity, as I see it.  Jesus was always a friend to the outcast, and those who had been dumped on and "robbed" by society.  He healed the oppressed, he wasn't an oppressor.  Even though, according to Christian theology, he was literally perfect, he never beat up on people for their petty sins.  He wasn't constantly trying to wrestle people down into some sort of a conversion.  These are the real values in Christianity, and unfortunately I just didn't see it in the religious people I encountered.  But they were very good at making people feel bad.

I guess it can be hard to find kindness anywhere in this world.  That's why it's so disappointing that these Christian/Catholic people who pride themselves on being Christian are so cruel.  Why do they even use the title "Christian"?  For the Catholic hierarchy, I guess the answer is obvious.  They live lives of privileged leisure because of their title of priest or bishop or nun.  They are practically worshipped by so many people for  their title.  In other words, they are hooked up.  All the more reason why they shouldn't be so hard on other people.  The laity have to worry about things like working to pay for their bills, accommodating their families, and generally making a go of life without the institutional support of a multi-billion dollar multi-national.  Many of the parishes are multi-million dollar extravagances, and yet the religious people are still motivated by getting more money from people.  They want money from people who are poorer than themselves.

But do they, at least, give good life guidance?  No.  I got a lot of domineering advice and criticism from them in all the years that I went to Church, but none of it helped me in the least.

I still like the idea of religion, though.  The idea that different people from different backgrounds could come together and be friends for a least one part of the day, as it should be at Church.  Church isn't supposed to be a place of alienation and contempt.  For people who aren't sincere, it should at least be a place where they put on their best selves for at least a moment.  A place of respite for your soul.  A place where everyone's innate human dignity is valued, most especially the outcasts and those who've experienced real hardship in life.  But I never found a Church that truly welcomed me.


P. James Norris said...

I too have found it extremely difficult to find a church where I feel welcome. I find it odd. It is almost as though they mock the very religion they claim to represent. Christians of the time seem to be being led down a path that is not described in any part the Bible I have read.

The nastiest [meanest] people I have met claim to be Christians. It seems to me that none of them actually know what it is they follow. Treating others with such blatant disrespect certainly is not following Christ, in my view of what Christianity should be.

Most recently I went to a church calling its self an independent baptist Church. If the things being taught at this church are what other Christian churches are teaching I am getting a bit more understanding of why they treat others in ways I find unacceptable.

During his sermon, the pastor at this church asked how any of us knew we would be going to heaven. His answer to us all was an example given by him. If the governor of a state was having a party that had no invitations sent out out how would one be allowed into the party? The answer is the Governors son asked people to come. When you arrive all you have to do is tell the doorman his son asked you to come and you would be allowed in, no matter what you have done, who you are, or where you come from.

The pastor went on to say even those that have broken the laws of the land would be welcomed into the party as long as the son knew you, and asked you to come.

The pastor concluded by saying if you accept Christ you have no laws to follow. The Law no longer applies to you. Christ will welcome you into Heaven...

In that sermon I recognized that the pastor seemed to be saying you can be as evil as you want and still go to heaven, as long as you know Christ, and Christ knows you?

I do not remember a time when the people of the world treated one another so badly. And maybe it is because the Christian churches are teaching people it's OK to be that way, Jesus will open the doors for you, even if his father is not happy with you...

Adult Student said...

Good comment, P. James. Sorry about your experience at the Baptist church. They can be very clique-ish and unwelcoming. It isn't surprising, with such bad instruction, that people are the way they are. Sigh.

P. James Norris said...

You are welcome! I have not given up on trying to find a church that is "right" for me. I hope you don't give up either!

To me, we truly are all family, every one of us belong to the family of God. If we all treated each other as such the world would be so much happier. That is what I believe. Maybe somewhere there is a church that still gives such guidance. If so, we will be lead to it, one day.