Friday, April 23, 2010


There are some times that I struggle with my faith identity. Then there are other times, when I am full-on embarrassed to call myself a "Christian". There are times when I just want to make up a term for what I am because I've heard too many "Christian" stories that make me feel like I want nothing at all to do with anything that is even remotely considered "Christian." I hate to say it, but sometimes I just feel so anti-Christian.

I really, honestly do not get it. Someone told me recently that they heard someone praying for something bad to happen to someone they thought had wronged them. I've read stories about so-called "Christians" handing out tracts that state if a woman is raped it is her own fault for wearing clothes that tempted a man. I've heard personal accounts of people being treated with disdain and disrespect by people in their lives simply for not being "Christian."

Of course, I know that the danger with most organized religion is that it can attract extremists who go completely their own way and disregard the real message. We see this in many beliefs, not just Christianity. I think that most reasonable people could agree that the majority of a group should not be blamed for the extremist views or actions of a small minority who claim to be part of that group.

But I'm not really talking about extremism here. I'm talking about much more common behaviors. Recently a local mother apparently staged her own abduction, setting off panic and causing hundreds of well-meaning people to give up their own time to help find her. The police and FBI also spent time and resources trying to locate her. Turns out, she faked the whole thing to run off to Florida with her lover.

I'm guessing she probably had undiagnosed PPD or some other issue that clouded her judgement. These kinds of issues are real and serious and can cause anything from mild depressive symptoms to unexplained behavior. But upon discovery of what happened, many people were posting things on Facebook saying how great God is and what a miracle it is that she was found safe. Really?? Is it a miracle that a lady goes crazy, abandons her child, causes worry to her family and her community, all to run away? I just fail to see how that is a miracle.

I guess what I'm really wondering about is the common language and actions often associated with "Christians." This habit of saying things are miracles when, if you really examine what happened, they are more of a tragedy than anything. Or this idea of treating people differently based on their beliefs. I personally don't think we can hold other people who do not claim to be "Christian" to the same standards I think "Christians" should hold themselves. But the "Christian" way seems to be to judge people for their actions and hold it against them based on Christian beliefs, regardless of the person's own views. Then there is the matter of expecting other "Christians" to keep up a certain appearance, regardless of what they are actually experiencing in their own life. All of these things make no sense to me and seem to cause more harm than good.

Please understand that I am not trying to judge here. I know it is not my place to dictate how other people express their faith. I also know that my own thoughts and behaviors do not always live up to what I say I believe. But what I am trying to do is express something I struggle with. Something I don't understand.

I read in the Bible about the way we are supposed to treat people, but much of what I read doesn't seem to match up with "Christian" tradition. I guess for myself, I just want to make sure that the way I'm acting and the things I'm saying are not just some "Christian" response or rhetoric. I don't want to misrepresent what my faith actually stands for by using popular lingo or a learned response that has no foundation other than it's how I've seen others respond.

In the case of this "missing" mother, I do have compassion for her. I am sad that whatever was going on in her life led her to make the choices she made. I sincerely hope she gets the help that she needs. I can agree that we should still show her compassion and forgiveness, but I do not think that there is anything miraculous about what happened. And, at least for me, this was a reminder to watch the things I say and think of the impact they have on others.... "Christian" or not.

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