Stephen Kahn

Posts Tagged ‘Tolerance’

The gentle, tolerant evangelicals

In Good news, Humor, Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I think my recent serious, but not deadly, illness, distracted me from writing about the religious cult to which I belong, Transition Lutheran Church. I participate in a peripheral way with the “wood ministry” crew that cuts, splits, and hauls wood, and sells it to people (at a very reduced cost) for heating purposes.

In the past, I communicated with conservative evangelical Christians (mostly on the Internet, but in a few cases in person). Most of the ones I encountered professed (and perhaps really did believe) that God exists, that Jesus is his son, and that with the Holy Ghost they make up some kind of magical “Trinity.” I regarded this as absurd and offensive. These conservative evangelicals were full of intolerance and hostility (while prating constantly about love), and full of condemnation of Communists (reasonable enough) and of Muslims (not so reasonable), atheists, abortion doctors, homosexuals, “liberals,” and lots of other people who don’t agree with them. After several years of participating in their discussions, I was eventually “banned.” from participation. Though I was guilty of a few intemperate remarks, mostly – as I said in a comment – “evangelical Christians like to dish it out, but they don’t much like to be on the receiving end of dishing.”

However, all humans – individually and in groups – change and evolve. When I began to participate with Trinity Lutheran, it took me a while to realize that they were indeed Christian zealots, as much obsessed with “converting me” as the evangelicals I encountered before. However, the Trinity group with much more tolerant and open-minded than the zealots at worldmagblog (a division of World Magazine, the group I had encountered before.

At Trinity, the obsession with bringing people into the flock is much purer, more ecumenical, gentler, and inclusive than the obsessions I encountered before. “You are a Jew? You are a Muslim? You are a Hindu? You are a [whatever your faith] – well, that’s fine. We all worship some aspect of the same God” seems to be the current doctrine.”

However, I am a stone cold, fanatical atheist. Most of the people who participate in the wood splitters are at least 90% of the way to religious belief, so it only takes a gentle push to push to get them that last 10%. But as I said not too long ago, at most I am .01% of the way to religious belief.

Even so, my friend and neighbor Craig (much like the sweet Karen O), takes that as a sign for optimism. He told me, one day (after I irritated my wife by telling Craig and Sharon I am an atheist), “That’s OK. We have atheists in our congregation. In fact, Pastor Jim has a special sermon he delivers at the funerals of atheists.”

Craig even took it amicably when I sardonically responded, “I suppose I appreciate the thought, but after I die, I will not be paying much attention to any sermons delivered on my behalf.”

Addictions (part 2)

In Good news, Humor on December 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Merry Christmas.

An acquaintance of mine and his wife were raised as evangelical Christians, in one of the Dakotas, if I recall what he old me correctly. He tells me that they are no longer religious believers, and that they sometimes laugh at some of my jokes about cults and believers. (Example: Transition Whidbey is not exactly a “cult” in that it has a leader and a lot of followers [like the semi-cult which my wife and I defeated in a law suit decades ago]; Transition Whidbey – and I presume the other “Transition Towns” – consist of quite a few people who wish to be cult leaders and very few followers for each.)

It is interesting and perhaps a bit eccentric to me that even though these two acquaintances say they are no longer evangelicals, they continue to act like evangelicals in many respects, but with some twists. In other words, “You can take the boy and girl out of the evangelical country, but you can’t take the evangelical out of the boy and girl.”

Some typical evangelical beliefs/traits/characteristics: 1) Have lots of children. 2) Raise your children to believe in God. 3) Home school your children, so they are not too subjected to secular society and hostility to religious belief and other “state/irreligious” controls and influences.

My semi-ex-evangelical acquaintances: 1) Have six children and Mrs. Acquaintance is about to give birth to child #7. 2) They take their children to a (conservative) church most Sundays. [Twists: They move restlessly from church to church, because in part because the churches remind them too much of the churches they attended as children. Also, the churches tend to be not too tolerant of the children attending service with their parents – and acting like children. Thus the churches want to “segregate” the children into “Sunday school” – which my acquaintances dislike.] 3) The acquaintances are home schooling their children. [Side comment – one of my brothers – as secular as I am – mostly home schooled his children.] 4) Not exactly a proto evangelical trait, but the acquaintances are planning to have a home delivery of the next child. [Another side comment – my brother’s wife worked for a number of years as a midwife, then became a nurse and a nurse supervisor, and then went back to being a midwife.]

Final comment by me. My wife and I were products of moderately large families (five children in each). We stopped with one child. Our child “mated” with another woman. My daughter and her partner have one child. Also, from an ideological point of view, I consider the world to be overpopulated, and I think there is much to be said for people limiting the number of children they have to one or two. However, the world is also becoming more tolerant. Thus, I will never say anything critical or judgmental to my acquaintances about their engaging in Mrs. Acquaintance’s addiction to having children.