Well, loyal readers, I'm not exactly sure how to blog about this, but it's what I've been thinking about the past couple of days. If my post on the Confederacy Museum seemed a little odd and weird, that's because that wasn't the whole story. Apparently someone didn't get the memo and broke the "no religion on a first date rule." This guy and I--we're friends. We chat online. We gossip about CW employees. At the Confederacy museum, we oo'd over the delicate backstitching on some of the uniforms. And afterward, we went out for Chinese food, me thinking we'd finally get it sorted whether or not we could date or just be friends.
But I don't even know if we can be friends now, because he started explaining to me his views on religion. I know, I know, many of you have advised me to not get into religion or politics, but I hope that when I do--I at least know not to attempt to convert the unconverted. Meaning, I will chat issues, but only to see what you believe, not to pick a fight and not to change your mind. Unless you're up for it. And not over Chinese food. My friend, however, carefully explained to me that to him, the Bible is the literal word of God. Literally. Handed down from the Big Guy, directly to us. All the mis-translations, all the deliberate leavings-out of certain passages and books, all the lost scrolls, all historical archaeology, part of God's plan and unassailable. To be the perfect Christian, all we need do is live by the Book.
Okay. Well, I have a different opinion. Word of God? Certainly. To be read and followed? Absolutely. Fallible? Yes. But not because God is fallible--because unfortunately the scribes are humans. Thousands of years, thousands of different men toiling in dozens of different political scenarios, each with their own aim and interpretation...well, I just believe that the message is going to get a little garbled after awhile. (Not the main points, of course. "Love one another," that's pretty clear.) Look at how many different English translations there are.
You see where the problem lies. If the Bible is open to interpretation, then all sorts of horrible liberal permissive things could occur, which is strictly forbidden when the Bible is taken literally. Society is falling apart, because the rules are not being followed. I'm trying not to be flip, just succinct. My eternal optimism that we as the human race are headed in the right direction in spite of the fact that there are fewer followers of JC, sometimes because of the fact that we as a secular nation stand up for our fellow human beings--was wrecked on the unmoveable shoals of belief that this world is going to hell because people refuse to take the Bible as the word of God. I told my friend that I certainly hoped he didn't think that my faith wasn't "good enough" because I was doing silly things like having opinions. He told me of course he didn't think less of me. But that's not how I felt.
I didn't start getting upset until later that night when I thought of all my friends who were going to hell. Including probably most of NLD readership. Including me. Upset enough, in fact that I went into my pastor's office on Sunday after the service and burst into tears, convinced that I was going to have to un-believe everything I'd ever learned and toe the line. Thank God for Pastor Marc, though...he calmed me down, assured me that I was still a child of God and that my faith and my journey was valid. He sent me a long email after I wrote him explaining the situation more fully, giving me more things to think about, as well as books to read so that I'm not hanging out on a limb by myself.
What have I learned from all this? One--that God works in mysterious ways and obviously felt that it was time to push me out of my comfort zone. Not enough, he says, to be reading the Bible every night and thinking charitable thoughts about your annoying coworkers, now you have to get out there and navigate those tough waters. Maybe it is time to humble myself and get back in line. And two--I am staying away from fundamentalists Christians. On television they're humorous and puzzling. In person, they're terrifying. My friend seemed so nice and average, until he started talking about the end of days. I'm sorry, but that's not what God is about, he is about loving your neighbor, no matter what.
I started out on Saturday excited to think that I might get to date someone at last, at least have a new friend...and I ended up scared and upset and not really wanting to see this person again. I should try to engage him in open dialogue, but how can you talk to someone who is determined to take no joy in his faith?
My journey continues. For better or for worse, I needed this push. But it's upsetting to have lost a friend in the process.