Saturday, December 17, 2011

In defense of Christmas, Christians, and Christ

  I am a Christian.

  Still here? Good. That opening statement has come to be so tainted these days that a good majority of the time, it offends people, or at least gives them pause about the nature of your character. Saying that you are Christian or that you go to church is kinda like saying you liked Michael Jackson (before he became cool again). People are hesitant to mention it aloud.

  What a strange, strange irony.

  Being a Christian doesn't mean I'm a whacko. It doesn't mean I'm no fun. It doesn't mean that I judge you for not being a Christian.
  I swear. A lot. I sometimes lie. I'm not very forgiving. Helping people out is sometimes inconvenient and gets me really irritated. I watch violent movies. I have lived with women outside of marriage. I have gay friends that I love dearly. Basically, I've done a lot of things non-Christians would consider "normal." In that, I've also set myself up to be judged by hardcore fundamentalist Christians who would say I have no right to be in church every Sunday.
  These are the very sort that have given Christianity a bad name. The haters. The judgers. I saw an article the other day, posted on Facebook, about something that some terrible church in the south had done against interracial couples. A commenter on the post wrote, "This is why I don't go to church." That's very sad to me. I get it, but it's sad that the church has been marked like that. That's just not how it's supposed to be. LOVE thy neighbor.
  Last night, I was at the Hallmark store buying some cards, and heard a woman tell her husband, "I want to get a Christmas card, but they're all religious." I literally laughed out loud. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. That's like complaining that you want to get ice cream, but you don't want it to be cold.
  I also saw a video clip this week from Bill Maher's show where he talked about the growing atheist movement. His panelists were cheering and saying "It's about fucking time." I understand that people are going to have different opinions, and that's fine. I just don't understand the hatred for the church. Well, I guess I do. Fundamentalism and radical churches like Westboro are driving a giant stake into the heart of Christianity.
  When I posted a while back about getting baptised in the ocean, I had a couple of people tick the comment box labeled "Toilet." That was really hurtful. You look at those pictures- you see the joy on my face- the pure peace- and you call it shit, basically. I don't know if those comments were from people I knew, or people who just happened upon the blog, but they were incredibly hurtful.
  And this is my point, people. Being a Christian is about being an inherently good person. Nobody's perfect, and the church can't hold anybody to that standard. Why would you hate on people who are just trying to be honest and good? At the core, we are all children of the same father, but don't lump all Christians together. Because some white people or black people or Mexican people or Native American people have robbed, killed, raped- does it mean all of them do? Of course not. Give Christians the same leeway. Not all of us want to bash you over the head with our Bibles. Not all of us are going to call you immoral. Not all of us are trying to recruit you or make you put all your money in the collection pot. Rather, a few of us hope that you would see how wonderful it is, become intrigued, and try it for yourself. You might just find something beautiful to fill that empty space inside you.

  Merry Christmas, everyone. May you have the peace of Christ this holiday season.


  1. I am an atheist.

    That said it's amazing how closely all the things you said in the first couple of paragraphs match my experiences as an atheist. I don't try to promote atheism, it's just my belief. For years I too was quite reluctant to admit it as I knew others would judge or stereotype me. I have the utmost respect for the spiritual beliefs of others. Barring cults maybe I'd never consider the spiritual belief of someone else to be stupid, wrong or something that needed to be swayed. Some of the most intelligent people I know have a different religious viewpoint that my own. Unfortunately I've found this respect is too often not reciprocated. I suppose on some level faith means to some you are just right without question...

    I've called you friend for years for all the character qualities you well outlined above. You are a smart guy. You are certainly a fun guy. I've always respected your independence. You have always had your own taste, interests, ideas and were never all that concerned with what anyone else thought of you based on them. Still, pick any topic and you will have a completely open minded discussion that well presents your opinions in a non-judgmental way. Again, it's just the guy you are. I'd hope to think we are pretty similar in that capacity.

    Knowing you well I was stoked to hear about your baptism. With you I knew for a fact it was an informed decision and not just rhetoric. I wish you a Merry Christmas in the sincerest "reason for the season" sense.

    As a side note, I received my first real Christmas card (as a real grownup) from you. Given that you are... well a pretty serious wise ass, I remember being kinda shocked/surprised. I know you a lot better now but the sincerity and thoughtfulness of the moment remains a really fond memory for me. That for me is the truest spirit of Christmas. Christian, atheist or whatever.

  2. I really appreciate that response, Nhoj. Thank you. It's rare to find somebody that can discuss something so divisive without flying off the handle or trying to jam their viewpoint down your throat. As a person of faith, of course I wish you would share what I feel. It's natural, because to me, it's what I fully believe. But the thing radicals miss is that I can still truly value your friendship and care about you as a person. It's no blight on you at all and doesn't change a thing for me. Thanks for always being a good friend. That's a rare and precious thing to have.

    Also, you won't be getting a Christmas card from me this year, you heathen bastard.

    Mostly because I'm broke.

    Merry Christmas to you and the fam!

  3. Thanks for this. I've been thinking it for awhile, it's really nice to see it thought (and said) by others.

  4. Sorry I'm so late in catching up with your blog. Congrats on your Baptism.