Monday, June 14, 2010

Not the Christianity I knew, Part II

Continuing to explore... I do have a point that I'm working towards, but we'll get there a bit at a time. So, again, if this seems incoherent and/or directionless, please bear with me.

On Sunday, I dropped Firstborn off at my parents' church. Now, Beautiful Wife and I have recently had our second (and probably last) child. And, as I was handing Firstborn off to my father, one of the parishioners saw me and said, "Hey, pretty soon you'll be dropping two off! Congratulations." Now, I suppose you could find something offensive in that if you dug deep enough, but as a message - "Congrats on your second child, and we're happy to have them here" - I thought it was a pretty nice thing to say. Also, notice what he didn't say (or even imply): there's no hint of a "you should stay for the service" anywhere in there.

That's the church I grew up in. (Well, it's not the only one, but it's the main one.) It's changed somewhat in the... Hell below, has it really been two decades? ...since I last attended; but the environment is very much as I remember it.

People tend to judge things based on their own experience. There's no helping it, and it isn't necessarily a bad thing - but it's something to keep in mind. A large part of the reason that I don't view religion, or even Christianity, as inherently harmful is because that's not my experience of it. The Christianity I grew up with was essentially harmless, and occasionally even did some good (by way of charitable giving, for example). At worst, you could say that it was a waste of resources that could have been better used elsewhere; but that's true of a lot of things.

It's probably worth noting that my point about people judging things based on their own experience cuts both ways. It's possible that religion really is fundamentally harmful and oppressive, and I just don't see it because I happened to grow up in a church that wasn't - a rare exception to the rule. I don't actually believe that, but maybe my bias is leading me astray.

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