I’m often asked why I’m so critical of the Church, Christianity, and religion. How can someone, who still claims to identify themselves as a Christian, be so darned negative?
Well, the answer is simple: I’m out to undermine all that religion, Christianity and the Church stands for. I’m out to destroy people’s souls, to corrupt the minds and hearts of everyone who reads anything I write, and to seek revenge on all those people and communities who have failed to live up to the teachings of Christ. In the end, I reject 2000 years of Christian tradition and have replaced it with a corrupt, Satan inspired modern, post-enlightened form of secularism and humanism! Why? Could it be . . . SATAN!?
Can you hear how silly that sounds when you say it out loud?
It’s as stupid as a Baptist telling me (an Eastern Orthodox Christian) that I literally think a picture of Jesus is Jesus himself. (BTW, Baptists don’t seem to have a problem kneeling in movie theaters and helping people give their lives to the Christ on the big screen — even though the Christ on the big screen is always some heretical version of Jesus!)
My answer above sounds silly. Or, I hope it sounds silly to you. But from some of the reactions, follow-up comments, and emails I receive, that appears to be the answer many people expect me to give. Or more accurately, it is the reason my critics tell me I’m critical of religion.
But just step back and think about it for a minute. Read my faux answer above just one more time, and tell me if that makes any sense to you at all? Maybe it does. If so, I’m very sorry. There is nothing that I can say that will convince you otherwise. You are not a part of my audience, and that’s okay. You can pick up a copy of the Purpose Driven Life.
For the rest of you, who have been genuinely perplexed about why I’m critical of religion, allow me to answer: I care!
Say what? How can someone who writes blog posts, articles, and entire books criticizing the various aspects of religion, CARE?
Well, I do.
Martin Luther cared. St. Francis of Assisi cared. Martin Luther King Jr. cared. And yet all these men were VERY critical of the religious world in which they found themselves. And all three were called various and horrible names throughout their lives. Because they cared.
No, I’m NOT like any of those men. I do not have the courage of Martin Luther. I do not have the dedication and love and patience of Francis, and I do not have passion and heart and self sacrificial nature of MLK. But I do care.
And that’s it. I’m a passionate person. And yes, I’m outraged by what the Church, Christianity, religion (whatever you call) it has done in the name of Jesus. I’m outraged Christianity has pillaged the Jewish Scriptures, ripped them out of context, and pretended they say things that they do not say. I’m irritated that our Christian book shelves are filled with spiritual fluff telling us how awesome we are, how beautiful our faith is, and how five year olds “died,” went to heaven, and saw Anglo-Saxon Jesuses (Jesusi?) instead of coping with real problems in the real world.
I’m angry that Christianity marginalizes all those at the bottom of the totem when it is the bottom of the totem which is most important. I’m angry that Christianity — a religion supposedly based on the teachings of Jesus — can be more concerned with secular power, wealth, and defining itself by who is excluded. Above all, I’m angry that Christianity, and Christians, spend more energy trying to cover up these flaws than they do trying to fix them. I am angry, but only because I care.
If you read my books, you will see that they always end on an “up” note (after I drag you across broken glass, and a bed rusty nails). I’m not the sort of person that can fake emotion. Which is both a blessing and a curse. I’m passionate about the flaws found in my faith, but I’m equally passionate about my own, personal experience of faith. I am not the boogie man come to take away your precious myths, be they Biblical, theological, or historical. But I’m also not someone who only writes about the positive side of faith. I’ve always hated those types of books. And it isn’t what I want to write.
For me, faith has given me as many negatives as it has positives. And so I write about both. I will continue to do so. Not out of hatred for God, the Bible, history, theology, or the Church — but because my faith is a part of who I am. Good, bad, and everything in between. It ALL deserves to be confronted. I do that in my writing because I want others to know that confronting the negative is just as legitimate as praising the good. It’s all part of the life of faith — or, at least it should be.