20 January 2010

Why do they hate us?

⊕ On David Walker's brilliant cartoon blog, a cartoon was recently in focus. It showed buses, pickets and billboards all saying do not think about Christianity. I suspect the direct reference -- it was not explained -- was to the silly bus advertisements published in London by an organization spawned by Dr. Dawkins with anti-Christmas themes.

⊕ I have noticed a recent bumper sticker with the standard "no" symbol over a cross and the caption, "No Bad Religion." I have never seen with one with any symbol identified with another religion, no crescent, moon or star of David -- only a cross.

⊕ In another part of my little galaxy, a friend asked me to speculate on why so many secular folks are vocally and intensely anti-Christian.

⊕ A folk music group I have played with attempted to ban carols from a December song circle. For those who might not know a song circle is a gathering of singers or musicians who play or sing with each person taking the lead and selecting a song. Folk singers tend to know a lot of carols and spirituals so this was a sharply unusual experience that led me to stop attending that group's activities.

First I have to think part of the answer is Christians.
  • the idiotic 'prosperity Gospel' from the likes of the Oral Roberts family, Joel Osteen and the utterly disgusting Pat Robertson.
  • The silly idea of Divine Right of Kings
  • The "pastor" who invited his congregation to wear their side arms to church for a blessing not long ago
  • "Millennialists" of one type or another
  • "Creationism" in all its intellectually dishonest forms
  • Perhaps the most offensive in our day, the Westboro Baptist Church with its anti-gay hatred.
  • While some historically ignorant "neo-pagans" want to blame Christianity for any number of wars and persecutions, and we deserve some of that, the truth is other faiths have their bloody times. The Jihads of early Islam, the wars in India and S.E.Asia between Buddhists, Moslems and Hindus, and a number of others receive much less notice but were arguably worse.
  • We seem to have a disgusting number of recent theocrats. They range from Pat Robertson in television, former Governor Huckabee and the Proposition 8 homophobes in California in politics, Tim LaHaye and others in (bad) literature and Westboro Baptist and the "Christian Identity Movement" in loon hatred. But then, Jews and Moslems have actual doctrines of theocracy and again, it is anti-Christianity I am concerned with here.
That is only a partial list, yours may be several pages: I cut this down from four and was still thinking of items.

Let me propose an answer that put us squarely in the same place as the Jewish believers. We proclaim guilt and call people to do better as a matter of obligation. Islam in my experience explicitly disavows guilt, and most other faiths are more interested either in spiritualism (a good thing actually) or propitiation. One makes sacrifice not to atone but to make the god(s) more favorably disposed.

The classic call of the missionary is 'repent and you will be saved.' Repentance is not fun, it is not uplifting and it is not easy. Living up to a higher standard is even less easy. But here we are calling humanity to step up. No wonder in a society of consumers and "self actualizers" we do not win popularity awards.

Yes we have our problems. We certainly have our bad actors. In fact the Westboro haters have managed to be expelled from the Southern Baptists who generally are tolerant of a wide range of belief, I think Governor Huckabee is a theological aberration as well as a political disaster. But that is not the problem. It is not our belief in goodness, it is not our theocrats (arguably Mohammed, was one too) it is our belief in the devil, in evil and in repentance that makes us unpopular.

If any one thing can make you unpopular it is calling people to behave better. Ask any parent of teenagers how that works out! In the case of society, our call to be better, to have the epiphany moment and behave as lovers of God and mankind: that is why at the end of the day, the world is not fond of us. It never will be but we are called to be fishers of people so we have to keep trying. Repent, follow the Lord Jesus and be a part of the kingdom. That is our call, and it is precisely the problem, but that is fine.



steve said...

as far as i can see judism and islam are pretty much the same on the call to obey devine law, and the need to atone if it is broken. I dont see how christianity and judeism are closer to each other than they are to islam

JimB said...

Hmmm.... I think that case can be made, but it is not my experience. Even then, I think my point is a bit different. Thanks for the note.


DREW said...

Maybe the use the cross for the anti religion symbol because it is the largest or most populous religion.


JimB said...

I do not think I am being paranoid. The church has a long history of being counter cultural or even actively opposed to the society. Cf. Becket. I am merely seeing that develop again in our time.

We do not affirm the bigots of our day and we will pay a price. Think of the church bombings and burnings in the era of the civil rights movement.


pecochran said...

Hi Jim,

I stumbled across this in my Google Reader, and I honestly didn't read the whole post, but is it possible the bumper sticker was a Bad Religion bumper sticker? They're a punk band that's been around since 1980, and their symbol is a "crossbuster", which is like a no smoking sign with a cross in it. It's not necessarily an attack on religion, but basically represents blindly following government, religion, etc. It's a call to question, an anti-establishment stance, and they actually chose the symbol to "piss off their parents", and they have some mixed feelings about it. Anyway, it's become a symbol of the band, so that might have been the bumper sticker you saw. Doesn't defeat the purpose of your post, but might explain the actual bumper sticker.

JimB said...

Interesting, thanks for the note. I hope you will hang around and comment if you see something worth the electrons.


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