I had to pick up my brother from work this weekend when he found out his cat from home had been put down. He cried and I cried and I put him into the back of an Uber to take him home. Sitting in the front, I noticed a book lying in the center of the seat, with a bizarre title I cannot for the life of me recall. I was certainly not in the mood to be engaging, but I simply had to know what it was about. He began explaining to me how he came to own the book and what it contained.
He did not speak English very well and was learning to read, and the pastor who had sponsored his relocation to the US as a refugee from Syria had given him the book to help him. He had never gone to school he was saying, so learning to read was extra hard as he never learned in his own language, let alone this new one. He was excited about it, and about all of the really fascinating things he never had known to be true that the book was teaching him. About Christ. About the Christian God. He was so taken by all of the seemingly impossible things that were actually true.
He wanted to tell me so much about how all I have to do is live in the light and accept Jesus and how my soul would be saved, and how it all seemed like magic but it was real. I nodded quietly as I came to the realization that this book was in and of itself a missionary. This man had come into a whole new world, and was being told the “truth he never had known” by people with the power to remove him from danger. To him, it was not a belief system, it was scientific law. I couldn’t decide how it made me feel.
He was learning to read, and learning to speak English in an English speaking country, bot of these things would improve his quality of life as a refugee in America. The people who gave him the book and sold it as undisputed fact were the same people who had raised the money to save him from a life of poverty and war. Did that entitle them to mold him and shape his limited understanding of our society to their liking? I felt so conflicted. Should he not be given the choice to decide for himself without being limited to propaganda? If Christianity is so very correct, would not those deserving of it’s glory be drawn there despite all other information?
Moments like these make me really glad that I am not religious. He asked me if I was to which I replied I had as of yet never taken the time to figure it out. He was concerned for me, saying it was the only thing one ever needed to figure out, and I should take the time, and I don’t know what could happen tomorrow.
I considered sitting down to think about what I truly believe in, somehow knowing that I really wasn’t going to, that it would be a waste of time. I know factually that I am not a Christian. I am not un-christian because I do not agree with radical bigoted shitheads on TV or in Congress who are behaving in an un-christian-like manner for personal gain. I do in fact feel no small amount of empathy for the actual Christian population grimacing behind the scenes, embarrassed by these people who have quite effectively hijacked their faith in Western media. I am not Christian because I do not believe that Christ died for my sins. In all other elements I feel as if I am aligned. Everyone sins/ judges, all the time, the being a Christian part is trying not to sin/ judge others, and knowing/ admitting when you have sinned/ judged, which I think I mostly do.
I have a pretty standard opinion of right and wrong, I’m not out there trying to hurt other people for personal gain, lie, steal, abase or destroy. I can be judgmental, when a man I do not know approaches me with a knife, I assume he is a murderer. When a person I know supports Trump I assume they lack education and basic human decency. I do not however, assume that the Trump supporter, or the murderer is a BAD person. They simply scare the shit out of me as they relate to my personal feelings of well-being.
My most negative manifestation of judgement involves my many times having made a game of guessing very specific information about acquaintances based on frivolous information, and have done so in the belief that I am more educated than they appear and therefore am likely right. My boyfriend has reminded me, and helped me to come to terms with the meanness and the inaccuracy of such behavior. Maybe that makes him my Jesus.
It’s just the dying for my sins thing that I can’t abide, even the idea that Jesus existed as a single entity, (though at this point my brother and I have watched so many history channel conspiracy documentaries, I want to believe). I mean, maybe he’s like Shakespeare. Maybe he was more like a club, and less an individual deity. Either way, my appreciation of the existence of Jesus in an ideological or physical form ends at historical intrigue. I enjoy the metaphor of the new testament, and the stories are classics, but to me they are simply not truths. Even if Jesus was the literal, real son of God, I still don’t accept that he died for my sins. I mean, if I was dying and I said, “I want my death to absolve everyone from sin for the rest of time,” that would not make it true. In fact, to me, that is one of the only examples of very human egoism in the Jesus literature. Who even says that?
As an admitted outsider, it is difficult for me to feel as if any exchange I may have with an outspoken follower of Christ would be productive, specifically as it pertains to personal dogma. Part of the problem for me, is that the most Christian people I have met live in their faith the same way people want to live in their sexuality. They’re gonna do them, and let you do you, and it’s none of your business, and personal, and doesn’t judge or impose. If they meet with someone over time whom they trust, and find they connect with due to a similarity on this front, it becomes something which strengthens their relationship with said person, but not something which defines their relationship with anyone else. Insecurities are loud, and the scary shouting Christians who need you to validate them by being the same, totally drown out people who are just trying to be the best people they can. It’s a bit of a catch-22 in that prodding the silent majority to speak up and speak out is asking them to abandon who they are and how they choose to live.
TLDR: I guess I live my life alongside rather Christian ideals, but I am not Christian, and sometimes I feel like christianity as it is portrayed by Western media outlets has become a term which no longer means what it is supposed to mean. Really awful people have hijacked the term and wear it as a cute bumper sticker that is I assume hurtful to Christians. Kind of like how we changed the term Santorum.