Religion Chat

Brad and I had a discussion about religion last week that we both felt was worth sharing, so this is up over at his place too. Brad was not raised with church as a regular part of his life. I grew up in a Christian family and was pretty hardcore (to the point of semi-obnoxiousness, I totally admit that) about it in college and for quite a few years after. I’ve mellowed out a lot in recent years, but I definitely still have my beliefs (though a few of them are quite unpopular with some of my Christian friends).
And so without further ado:
Brad: what was the other thing?
Judy: oh- uh, welcome to short attention span theater… i was going to ask you about the coffee shop from last week
Brad: oh, the Christians
Judy: you metioned the scary youth group
Judy: yeah
Brad: they weren’t scary… just surprisingly young to be so wrapped up in Jesus.
Brad: So, did you belong to a Christian youth group and get together on weekends/during the summer to talk about Jesus with a slightly older church leader?
Judy: i know 5 year olds who are that wrapped up in jesus though
Judy: no
Brad: and use words like “Body of Christ” in conversation?
Judy: my youth group took summers off
Judy: the highschool kids at my church do though
Judy: and i’m going to hazard a guess that they were not talking about the actual body of christ, unless they were talking about communion
Judy: they were probably referring to the body of believers as the body of christ
Judy: Christianity has a bit of its own lingo (as i’m sure do other religions)
Brad: wow
Brad: well, I was blown away. You see, to an outsider, it looks like a cult.
Brad: A cult that is recruiting young kids, who don’t have the mental capacity to question anything until they’re teens… and then the questions start flying.
Brad: it made me very uncomfortable. it was like witnessing a crime.
Judy: interesting perspective, although in a way i agree with you
Judy: i have friends who say that they accepted jesus when they were 3 or 4
Judy: i say a three or four year old child doesn’t understand a decision like that
Brad: that’s so stupid, I can’t even comprehend it.
Brad: and it sounds as if they are competing.
Brad: the youngest wins.
Judy: but if you are taught that from a young age, and still believe it as an adult…
Judy: i don’t think that’s true
Judy: it’s not about age, i don’t think
Brad: ok
Judy: these friends of mine tell of being in sunday school or VBS and remember making that decision
Judy: but really, following any belief system is a decision you make over and over again by the choices that you make
Judy: obviously you can’t ask someone to make that decision at 4 years old and then provide no way to keep it up
Judy: but if they’re raised in a family that believes that way and it becomes a lifestyle, then okay, but i believe that the real choice to keep following it happens later, when you can understand the decisions that you’re making *and* can choose that decision over peer/societal pressures
Judy: which is my problem with VBS programs, and, my very VERY unpopular problem with Billy Graham crusades
Judy: (tell me to shut up anytime)
Brad: agreed. there is too much hypocrisy in religion. There are so many Christians who believe that hate is the answer, that I can’t fathom any church really supporting those beliefs, but they do. Muslims who blow up innocent people are another example. That’s not Islam. That’s something else.
Brad: on a smaller scale, people call themselves good christians, then break the 10 commandments on a regular basis. then there are people who condemn others for not believing.
Judy: i think that’s totally valid and totally right on
Judy: the extremists shed a really bad light on evryone else
Judy: and that’s true of almost anything, not just religion
Judy: as for believers who condemn others for not believing, well, i have issues with that too
Brad: yes, they do. but there is nothing extreme about a mid-western mom who knits on saturdays, cooks for the neighbors on sunday, attends church regularly, and then tells someone in a very soft, mom voice that they’re going to hell and nothing can be done for them if they want to have an abortion, be taken off life support as a vegetable, or take the word “God” out of the pledge of allegiance (which I think is fine where it is, but I’m
just sayin’)
Brad: sorry, that last part might have been confusing, but my point is that religion defines the “rules” of living, but evolution of the human race is not bound by rules of any kind.
Judy: it wasn’t confusing
Judy: there are extremist churches out there
Brad: ok, but I’m saying you can take the most non-extreme of christian churches and still be shocked by the things they believe. it just doesn’t work in this day and age.
Judy: yes but can’t only say that about christian churches
Judy: i think that’s something that spans all religions
Brad: true.
Judy: my view is that faith is a very simple and very personal thing
Judy: and when you dress it up in the trappings of doctrine and things that are the ideas and creations of people rather than God – that’s where the big problems come in
Judy: and you get the whole “but this is how it has always been”
Judy: well, okay, but we have a whole lot of stuff now that we didn’t have then, that couldn’t be conceived of then
Judy: but people don’t like change
Brad: I agree with all that.
Judy: my personal view is this
Judy: faith is a very, very simple thing
Judy: that “religion” complicates
Brad: very true.
Judy: i believe that everyone has to make their own choice
Judy: for me, that choise is believing that Jesus died for me and loves me no matter what i do
Judy: the mere fact that i believe is my proof that i’m going to heaven, whether i have an abortion or take someone off life support or become a serial killer
Judy: but, i respect the fact that not everyone believes what i believe, and whether or not I think someone is going to hell for their disbelief, i’d never say that to them
Judy: it’s not my place to push my beliefs on them.
Brad: and that’s why you and I get along
Judy: i don’t want anyone pushing their religion on me, i have my beliefs and they’re not going to change, so then what would make it okay for me to to do that to someone else?