Conservative fundamentalist Christians don’t like criticism of their worldview. And there are all sorts of perspectives from which they receive such criticism; from atheists, other religions, and even other denominations. Perhaps the other denominations don’t criticize as much as they at least share some absurdities in common, but nonetheless they do get some from that corner.
But I’ve noticed something about more liberal religious people; they are not used to being criticized. After all, it is often their whole mantra of tolerance, acceptance, and bringing together of people that they emphasize. Hippies. I’m talking about hippies, people.
And it isn’t only Christians…oh no, not in the least. In my lifetime I have had very unhappy reactions to questions, challenges, and criticism of theology from liberal Christians, Pagans (especially one Wiccan woman who I thought was going to hunt me down and ritually murder me for asking about the 5 elements), and other ‘newage’ (yes, it rhymes with sewage) “spiritual but not religious” types who despise man-made religion but have created their own. All religions start out as personal spiritual creations, people!
Having attended a very liberal and religious school for 13 years (A Quaker school in Philadelphia), I became very familiar with how people of this persuasion behave. They are open and tolerant of others views (although for some this is a pretense), they want everyone to get along, and they absolutely hate when their view is not tolerated (although they may try to tolerate your intolerance). They are being tolerant, after all; they should receive the same tolerance, right?
The fact is that liberal Christians, Pagans, and other new age people believe absurd things as much as any conservative nutjob. They are simply different kinds of nuts. So when I see people talking about things such as “The Secret,” “What the Bleep do We Know,” magick, crystals, Jesus as some all-loving hippy, or the fact that god is female, I just want to throw my hands up in a fit of frustration over the absurdity of it all.
Hey, liberal tolerance-driven ‘spiritual but not religious tolerance monkeys; you cannot expect to be left un-criticized just because you think that criticism is bad or disrespectful of people’s beliefs Criticism can be very good, and saying one should not criticize is criticism. Jesus was no hippy about peace. In fact, he specifically says so in Matthew 10:
34 ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35For I have come to set a man against his father,and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
And Paganism is not older than Christianity. I know that most of them say that it should be revered because it is ancient and they will whisper snidely to one-another that Christians are practicing some new religion in comparison, but that is total crap. Paganism is based loosely on myths and legends that are quite old, but as it exists today it is less than 100 years old. Pagans, you’ve been had.
The worst part is that people in these camps often have such vague and unspecified ideas that you can’t even pin them down. It is as if they have some feeling that something in the universe loves them and so they attach a whole bunch of gobbledygook to it and think they are somehow more in tuned with nature and the universe while us metaphysical naturalists are just missing it.
No, I’m not missing anything. Not missing your mamsey-pamsey crap at all….
So sure, you liberal religious people don’t discriminate against gays as much, you don’t try to enforce virulent views on the world through legislation, and you have more enlightened views about women (although some take it too far and try to elevate women above men, quite ironically) and you promote peace. But the fact is that the bases for your spiritual and religious beliefs are as tenuous as those of conservative evangelicals. In fact, many of these vague and ultimately absurd and meaningless spiritual views are more annoying to me.
The major issue for me is the general view of science by many people that fall into the liberal side of the question. Science is the best method we have to determine truth. It is not just another narrative equal to any other. Your crystals will not heal you, homeopathy is ridiculous, and your chi (or ki) is not blocked. There are some things that show that acupuncture might have some helpful effects, but you cannot influence the universe directly with you thoughts because of quantum non-locality.
There is a culture war going on. Part of it is between believers and non-believers, but really the more interesting battle is between believers of different things. The mamsey pamsey ideas and the literalists (although both sides pick and choose verses and ideas from their various traditions) put on a cultural show of absurdity that people like myself–atheists mostly–sit back and just shake our heads at.
It is not completely unlike matter and anti-matter. When they meet they anihilate each-other and we are left with not photons but skeptical disbelief, which sort of works because skepticism is a kind on illumination.
Crap, I may have accidentally just created another vague, mamsey pamsey, liberal theology with my analogy. Man, being a ‘spiritual but not religious’ vague-theology-having, holier-than-thou tolerance monkey is easier than I thought; I think I just joined or created another version right here.
You are now required to tithe to me, your sacred prophet, in order to receive more wisdom.
Paypal at ShaunPhilly@gmail.com
Welcome to the church of Dionysus!
(he was always a favorite)
Oh, wait…the Pagans already claim him I think….