Portrayals of faith [Monday, Mar. 19, 2007, 9:31 pm]
I really should be doing homework right now, but I wanted to just discuss something first, to get my thoughts in order. I guess I'm kind of at a loss in terms of how to react to my own mis-explanations. Things sound good in my head, but when I'm in a defensive position, I often feel like I'm coming across completely wrong, no matter how "right" I know that something is.
Well, let's just say that I talked about some spiritual things with my roommate last night. That's happened before, and it's clear that we're not on the same page at all, but it's really not a disruptive sort of debate - just a little discussion that never really comes to much of a resolution. I mean, I rarely start things, and I certainly don't try to shove things down anyone's throat - she knows I'm a Christian, and she'll sometimes ask me things, and then in the process of trying to defend what I believe, I end up feeling like I've only made things more difficult.
Last night, after some pressing, I did make it clear that I believe that no matter how "good" a life someone leads, they will still end up in hell if they don't believe in Jesus. That's such a difficult topic to cover with a non-believer. For one thing, I don't want to come across like some holier-than-thou elitist when talking about the hard subject of hell, but neither would it be right for me to simply skirt around the issue and fail to give a clear answer for fear of "offending" someone with the truth.
I just feel like I didn't do a very good job of it. She doesn't see how I could say that any one "religion" is more "right" than any of the others. I try to explain that it really doesn't have anything to do with subscribing to a particular religion, but rather what the individual person believes.
I tried to use the analogy of everyone trying to throw a baseball to hit the North Pole - some would come closer than others, but ultimately everyone will fall short. But I was left feeling like I'd completely lost her, and that now she probably sees me as some kind of elitist religious nut-job because I don't "accept" the sincerely-held religions of other people. Really, while living at home I always had some kind of idea that my beliefs were in the minority in terms of the general world, but only recently have I begun to really understand how much of an "extremist" I really am.
Even within the church - we have what's known as an "Interfaith" chaplain at this school. And there are Interfaith programs offered sometimes. I actually went to one tonight about religious chant, because it was being led by one of the Intervarsity leaders. It was certainly an interesting and informative time. And I shouldn't make judgments about anyone's Christianity, but to be honest it does worry me that Intervarsity is involved in these Interfaith activities. I guess I have to think what kind of message this kind of thing sends to others - that our group is just a part of all the other faiths out there, and we can all get along peaceably if we just stop being so "closed-minded."
I don't know. I probably shouldn't dwell too much on how I or others come across. I mean, I used to be somewhat miffed at other Christians who would be too "forward" with their beliefs, and cause others to see them as radical Bible-thumpers. And it is certainly possible to be too forward, and to come across as being "against" everything except yourself. But at the same time I'm also realizing that sometimes, no matter how sincerely you try to present or defend your beliefs, there will always be people who will categorize you as "closed-minded," too "religious," or intolerant, simply because they hold to a different worldview, and have somehow been taught to see all "religious" beliefs as equally valid.
So I guess some sort of balance is in order. Ultimately, God is the only one I should be trying to please. But at the same time, I do need to be mindful of how I come across to others. Which is very hard - I think maybe I just do too much defending. I know I did something wrong last night - probably a lot of things. I do know what I believe - it's just so hard to really articulate it to someone who is on such a different plane than me - who will probably see me as closed-minded and "ignorant" no matter how I accurately I try to present myself or my beliefs.
I suppose my only goal should be to show God to others, rather than "my beliefs" - but I think I've pretty much failed at that so far. I just hate feeling like I've confused someone more than I've helped them.
Vitality - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009