Fairy tales for adults

Steve Bougerolle steveb at creek-and-cowley.com
Sat Feb 15 11:27:54 PST 2003

On Sat, 2003-02-15 at 21:13, Richard Lightman wrote:

> When christians start to find out your point of view, do some of them
> wonder if you are really a christian at all? ;-)

Probably.  But then I'm sure they wonder that about many people.  It's
not as big a problem as you might think.  Most of the people I know
around church are happy with the basic formula that you just have to
accept Christ and believe in him, never mind the details.  If they
really find your views strange they might say something like "well,
there are many roads to god".  I have got that comment before, which
figures since I am clearly unusual among Christians.  But it really
doesn't seem to matter much.  

There is a minority of Christians who are very noisy and express their
views with overpowering forcefulness, to the point where they do drive
people away just by their manner.  If you can look past them I think you
will find Christians cover a very broad spectrum of different sorts of
people. Ehile it's tempting to be ashamed of all our brethren who
noisily voice views we disagree with personally, it's also quite an
achievement that we get along together as well as we do :).  Quite a few
nations don't do as well.

> I can understand that they should have used that sort of method, but
> until recently most people could not read, read latin, or get a copy
> of the bible in their own language. A few hundred years ago, sitting
> down and reading quietly to myself would have got me investigated for
> dealing with the devil to get supernatural powers. Most people who
> could read could only do so out loud, while standing.

Well, it is a good point that for most of Christian history most
Christians have needed (or been forced to rely on) clergy to interpret
the bible for them because they were simply unable to read it
themselves.  In many ways we actually know more about what Christ said
now than in most of the intervening time.  As well as being able to read
for ourselves, in the last short while (ie few decades) it has become
easy for Christians in widely different areas to compare notes, really
for the first time in Christian history.  If you wonder about something
you read nowadays you can just sit down on Internet and in minutes see
for yourself what other people think, and read the same books they do. 
For a couple thousand years past, no Christian would have been able to
do that.

> Historically christian worship has been influenced by the religions
> they absorbed and displaced. Eg the statues of Isis that people now
> call Mary, Eastra's hare and the modern Easter bunny.

True again, and one of the more obvious and entertaining signs of that
is the way people show Christ with "local" physical features in
different parts of the world - when in truth we really have no idea at
all what he looked like.

However, Christian culture and Christian methods of worship are
different things from Christian belief.

> Could a significant portition of christian moral code have been
> incorporated from religions that christianity absorbed over history?

It is undeniable that a lot of Christians justify their own beliefs
(from wherever they come) by looking for passages in the bible to back
them up.  For example, the Chinese are very keen on family values and
see it as a positive moral duty to have children.  This is a bit of a
problem because my wife & I don't want kids, so people at church are
forever telling us why we must and that it's a Christian duty.  I don't
see any justification for that view at all in the Bible, and it seems
clear as a bell that they believe this because it's traditional asian
culture, not because it's what Christ said.  However, just because they
read things into it doesn't mean that those readings are right.  Christ
said real, concrete things and we can always check them to see if our
beliefs are right.

> If that was the case you could be using the wrong moral code to
> interpret the bible.

I guard against that by going back to the source constantly and always
keeping in mind "What did Christ actually say".  I do turn up conflicts
that way, and it probably is true that despite all that I have some
uninspected beliefs which I would mistakenly attribute to Christ.  

It is also true that Christ was speaking directly to Jews, who had their
own culture and particular issues that are different from mine, and it
is very necessary to keep this in mind if we want to understand what he
said (in particular to understand the parables).

But then I have said more than once (using different words) that I don't
see Christianity as a set of perfect "true" answers which are stated and
only need to be uncovered, like some sort of verbal encyclopedia. I see
it as the correct METHOD for growing spiritually.

Steve Bougerolle
Creek & Cowley Consulting


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