Saturday, September 28, 2013

Respectfully Yours

(originally shared on another blog on 3/30/13)

A few days ago I created a new blog space because I thought I needed to be able to speak more freely my thoughts about religion.  I invited a few friends there, friends I knew wouldn’t freak out if I used a colorful word or expressed frustration over an interaction with an unreasonable conservative Christian.  I posted a rambling, emotional post about some old hurts, new hurts, friendships…  A rather boring post that probably interested no one.  I should have been more discerning and kept that sort of thing to my journal, but I learned something about myself in the ensuing days…

I’m a flippin’ hypocrite.

Who knew?

(That was rhetorical.  Please put your hands down.)

I’ve always strived to be genuine and transparent in my writing, as well as in person (though anything goes with phone calls).  I had to stop and ask myself why I was suddenly trying to be two different people, one who rants about the evils of religion and one who just smiles and pretends like she’s okay with Christianity so she doesn’t hurt her Christian friends?  I thought about a couple things I’d said in my rambling post over there;  “Just by being you, you will piss somebody off, I promise.”

Now, here’s the thing: I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I would rather do so than be a hypocrite.  I have too often hidden what I really think for the sake of making or keeping peace.  I’m not talking about just spilling every little thought that comes to mind, rather not being afraid to say things that need to be said, when they need to be said.  I want to be genuine.  If I feel I have to express something that is really offensive, I don’t want to just shut my mouth and hold it in, I want to examine myself to see if my thinking is right and true, and to adjust it if need be.  I have people in my life who I know think rotten things about me but are syrupy sweet to my face (except for the occasional outburst) and I bloody hate that.  I wish they’d either get over it and change the way they think about me or accept it and stop pretending to like me.  Not everyone in the world likes each other or has to be the same!  But we should show each other respect. And we can’t genuinely respect someone if we’re not genuine about our differences and feelings.

Perhaps a definition of respect is in order:

1.  esteem: a feeling or attitude of admiration and deference toward somebody or something
2.  state of being admired: the state of being admired deferentially
3.  thoughtfulness: consideration or thoughtfulness 

With that definition, I can see how it would be hard to respect someone who holds views so different than your own; tolerance would perhaps be a better word here, but I wholeheartedly believe you should respect that another person has the right to those beliefs and convictions, just as you do.  We should behave politely and speak considerately. 

Definition of tolerance: 

1.  permit something: to be willing to allow something to happen or exist  2.  endure something: to withstand the unpleasant effects of something  
3.  accept existence of different views: to recognize other people's right to have different beliefs or practices without attempting to suppress them 

I suppose if we cannot muster up respect, at least we can be politely tolerant of each other.

Where was I?

Ah, yes…

On the other blog I also shared about how a Christian friend recently expressed her discomfort over our friendship, how her faith is so important to her and she feels almost like she’s compromising it, etc.   And I got to thinking, why am I not expressing how important my freedom from faith is? Because I don’t want to hurt her.  I love her and will always try not to hurt her, but… yeah, it’s sort of uncomfortable for me too, I guess maybe I cannot be myself with her anymore.  Her faith doesn’t bother me; I no longer have the religious boundaries that tell me who I can and can’t befriend and part of this wonderful new journey is learning how to accept all manner of people and beliefs, but the fact that she would be offended by what I think of Christianity or by some of my rapidly growing skeptical thoughts… You just can’t be as close when you feel there are things you can’t talk about, when you have to measure words so carefully.  (Maybe we crossed from respect to tolerance.)  In my effort to keep peace I’m not so sure I was completely genuine in my conversation with her.  Then again, I don’t think I need to be brutally honest; some thought before opening my mouth is not a bad idea.

So, here we are.  As Vizzini the Sicilian says, “It is down to you and it is down to me.”  I will be deleting the other blog.  I will write here.  I will be myself.  If I have something I feel I need to say, I will write it.   If you are a Christian and you have kept up with me this far…  wow.  I’d be surprised.  But if you are, I want you to know I “love the Christian but hate the Christianity,” (to steal the Christian’s mantra of, “love the sinner but hate the sin.”) As I occasionally share about my escape from religion there will be many things for a Christian to choke on, to ruffle your feathers, but I will try not to bash anybody.  That is the kind of thing I don’t want to do to anyone, ever, the kind of thing I want to get to the heart of… my heart.  If I am tempted to go there, I need to deal with that and get my heart right, not just blog about it elsewhere.  Okay?  That’s what is going on inside me.  (Some of my struggle is bound to spill over here, but understand that it’s something I’m working on.)  I would much rather share honest, kind reflections on why religion is so devastatingly destructive and how Christianity in particular believes some seriously twisted stuff--either to help someone understand why I bailed or to help them see why they should--than let my overdeveloped sarcastic side romp and play, fun as it is.

My blog is not required reading for anyone.  Maybe you’d prefer not to come back at all, or maybe you’d like to visit only the categories you are interested in, those about life on the farm or pictures of the children.  By all means, feel free to pick and choose!  (I have to question the sanity of someone who would care to take in everything I produce, though I admit to enjoying the thought that someone would.  Oh, to be known and loved!)   If you are here looking for some reason to hate me, you will find it.  Just don’t smile and hug me when you see me next.  Be good enough to show me some polite tolerance, just don’t pretend you’re glad to see me.  And if you see me and smile in spite of yourself, why not take some time to think about why you feel you shouldn't?

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