The Christian I was
Before October 2012, I was still a Christian.
I was a liberal Catholic and I was certain I had the right view of Jesus.
The public Christians preached peculiar things like Creationism, Intelligent Design and a literalist approach to the Bible. George Bush, Sarah Palin, Pat Robertson are the easy examples but there are thousands of public figures who make public demonstrations of their Christian faith along these similar lines.
As a Catholic, I had no such problems with science. Especially evolution and the multi-billion-year-old universe. I believed I had a loving God who was ‘in everyone’ and ‘in everything.’ My God assured eternal life and through Him and the act of loving others, I was likely to share in that eternity with Him.
I Was Convinced My Jesus was the “right” Jesus
As for the Evangelists – I was sure I knew Jesus so much better than they did. And I felt lucky and blessed my parents had given me a great gift. I had been given “The Correct Christian Faith.”
Though the intensity of my faith might wobble, I was always convinced I had the right understanding of Jesus. 100% certain.
And the clownish Christian superstitions of Pat Robertson were edifying to me – his Christianity made me even more certain my version of Jesus was right. Those Evangelicals, Charismatics and other sects appeared to have a misunderstanding about Jesus. I did not think they were going to Hell, only that they were unfortunately unaware of the correct interpretation of Jesus.
Pat Robertson’s absolute conviction that gays were the cause of earthquakes and tsunamis was ridiculous – as well as evil and cruel. Such a ‘wrong’ faith! Poor Pat.
After the Bush years many of these public preachers: Robertson, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and others were still going strong on the national stage. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas prayed publicly for rain. And worse, he encouraged the whole state of Texas to pray as well. It didn’t work. I wasn’t surprised. I was sure God doesn’t answer prayers that way for God’s Kingdom is much too important for something so petty as droughts. God is about ‘souls’, not ‘soils’. Or something like that. And again, his wrongness reinforced my own faith in my own right version of Jesus.
“Not My Kind of Christian”
But something about my religion was troubling me a bit by the fall of 2012.
Why were these people were so successful in spreading their WRONG faith and finding so many others to agree with them? A more difficult question was rising up. I didn’t know yet what it was.
The big change happened when I read the news about the shooting by the Taliban of the little girl, Malala Yousufzai, on a bus in Pakistan.
“Why So Many Wrong Faiths?”
As I posted last week, I wept as I watched this news. Something about it hit me hard.
And I began to wonder why so many “WRONG” FAITHS were dominant everywhere in religion. So many ‘wrong’ Christians. So many ‘wrong’ Muslims!
The Taliban believed Malala’s attempt to go to school was a sin against Allah.
This, I figured, is not the true God (my Jesus)… but a different God, sort of?
Another wrong faith. A wrong interpretation of God? Certainly. But how wrong?
And who does one pray to when the problem is caused
by an interpretation of a directive from God?
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, hadn’t we been told by the leaders of Islam and Christianity that Muslims, Christians and Jews can all get along because (by some ecumenical logic) we are all worshipping the ‘same’ God in some mysterious way we can’t imagine? And aren’t we doing the right thing to have faith and to accommodate all these conflicting faiths in this manner?
Our enemy isn’t Islam, we were told by religious leaders.
Our enemies are the people who practiced it ‘incorrectly’.
If God exists, I wondered, why would he allow such despicable things to happen
not only in his name but worse, at HIS DIRECTION?
“The Commands are for Every Muslim – Not Just the Extremists”
The Sharia Law which dictated this attack was founded on Q’uran preachings and other holy texts in Islam. Sharia forbids girls from getting any education after 8 years old. When coupled with enforcement, 100% faith in this preachment would clearly argue for killing a girl who goes to school at 15 years old.
Before this event, I had imagined such evil things had always been done by “religious extremists”. But this isn’t exactly true.
The preachments are commands directed at all Muslims, not just the extremists. Why wouldn’t any person of strong faith be tempted to exercise the same actions?
“If One Defends Faith, One Must Defend What it Leads To”
The attack was insane. Yet these Muslims are only following the direct preachments
of their Faith with their own 100% conviction.
Suddenly I saw the 100% conviction of Faith as no different from my own. They were sure – Just like me! And the 100% conviction of Faith that Pat Robertson expressed that Homosexuals were “the cause of earthquakes” was just as legitimate as my own faith that Jesus did NOT cause earthquakes. If you defend Faith, you must defend what it leads to.
But what supports Faith?
I saw no support. No way to determine the truth of any of these claims.
How can anyone be certain they have ‘the correct faith’
if any faith can be claimed true by any believer and is simultaneously beyond refutation?
“Faith Requires Us to ‘Turn Off’ Thought”
Blind, obedient faith of the sort that motivated Malala’s attacker is the problem.
100% Faith is clearly the problem. The attacker had no doubt he was following his religion correctly. His Faith was perfect. Like Mohammed Atta on 9/11.
In fact, it must have felt so right and true, he didn’t pause to think.
“Faith is the Problem”
In his trance of 100% faith, he pulled the trigger for God. And tried to kill every little girl on that bus.
A light bulb went off in my head.
FAITH ITSELF is the problem.
But without faith, what happens to the existence of God?