05 January 2013

Learning as I go

I started this blog with every intention of posting regularly and with gusto. The funny thing is, the more I thought about what I wanted to write, the more unsure I became.

Even though the consequences of the lifestyle choices most people make today are obviously detrimental to them, they continue to make the same choices time and time again. Then they justify their dubious choices and demand that the rest of us validate their decisions too (using Hollywood and other famous people is an excellent example of this). It's a vicious circle that most don't seem interested in breaking. And those of us who see this, who see the downward spiral of the world, can't seem to rally together in any meaningful way to stop it. I'm beginning to understand the role that religion plays in this equation.

It all started with my new attendance at a church. I never thought that I would willingly attend but I considered that perhaps I was opposed to something that I may not fully understand. And while I still believe that it is unnecessary to rely on religion as the only solution to the world's moral ills, I also see what it has to offer that the secular world does not, namely a unity of purpose that dwarfs anything I've experienced in the secular realm.

These people believe in their purpose in such a profound way and, as a result, are unified in purpose in such a way that they can really make change manifest in people's lives. It's a belief that transcends merely a unity of ideology. I think that when people are viewing each other as souls or as a creation of God, they tend to view each other's actions with greater scrutiny. I've really come to enjoy the moral accountability of the reformed Christians. I also respect their unity of vision and commitment to living in a moral, sane way.

I just wish I knew how to accomplish this in the secular world.

15 October 2012

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?, by Rhoda Janzen

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems
by Rhoda Janzen
First Edition. 257 pages, Grand Central Publishing, $16

I am always looking for ways in which others have reconciled themselves to a more traditional church and have opted back in to that culture, rejecting the modern world and its supposed values.

When I read Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?, I once again found  that the opposite was true. Really I should qualify that statement because I didn't actually read this book in its entirety. Instead, I read the first few pages and then opened the book to a random passage to see if it got any better. It didn't.

The writing itself is the current popular style of writing books like blog posts where the author tries to make you believe that she's your best friend, divulging extremely personal information which should remain, as the term suggests, personal. She also flaunts her PhD as proof that perhaps such an educated woman should not have returned to a conservative church, one that doesn't ordain women.

This is the fateful passage to which I opened:

The issue of women in church leadership had long been a tender spot for me. It was one of the issues that had propelled me away from my church of origin thirty years earlier. In the early 1980s the American Mennonites were engaging the issue, but their pace was much too slow for me. As a young woman I had zero patience for any group who did not instantly and wholeheartedly affirm inclusivity in both governance and practice. At eighteen I thought it was much more important to be right than loving. Go figure. Now, at forty-eight, I think it is much more important to be loving than right. (117)

What I find most compelling is her assumption that she is right. I am well aware of what the apostle Paul had to say about ordaining women (don't) and so I see the biblical precedent for this. If you're going to go to a traditional, conservative church that is what you can expect: adherence to an orthodoxy that has not been corrupted by modern ideologies.

I also see an innate difference between men and women. Does that mean that there isn't a woman in the world who can lead? Of course not. But most women are terrible at it. Then again, most people are terrible leaders. In an age of forced equality, no one really understands what it means to be a leader and what a difficult task leading is. Most people just see the power and the prestige and feel denied their rightful due if they don't get the chance to have that for themselves.

There is one thing that author Rhoda Janzen does get right and that's her insight into premarital sex. This is one of those realizations that doesn't require Christianity in order to be valid and valuable:

And our season of abstinence showed us something that we might not have otherwise seen. We learned directly, experientially, that both of us has misused sex in the past, and that our vision of sex had been blocking our spiritual growth. It's not that we had overvalued sex. It's that we had been using it as a substitute for real intimacy. (154)

I find it interesting that she can see the value in abstinence but not in different roles for different genders. Of course one of these exercises benefits her in ways that she can tangibly experience in the present. The other presumes a wisdom of order that she isn't able to comprehend because it seems to be limiting to her immediate personal experience. And it's also as if all of her "education" has led her to believe that she is much better equipped to understand centuries of theological discourse than her male predecessors which, quite frankly, seems to be the tone of her entire book.

13 October 2012

A brief explanation

I believe that it is entirely possible to live a moral life without Christianity as the guide. The belief that a person cannot reach the conclusion that certain things are bad for them (e.g. sexual liberation) without the context of God is absurd. I am above all a consequentialist. That some actions had negative consequences and should therefore not be engaged in is a logical conclusion. That most of the world seems to continue to engage in behaviors that lead them to ruin is a function of human denial, not a lack of God.

I do believe that God and Christianity serve a great purpose. I also believe that modern Christianity has lost a lot of what it needs to be a functioning guide. It has absorbed too much of the liberal world's ideology. The last thing people need is a church that changes with the times and reflects the modern world. The church should be a place of refuge from the modern world, not a mirror of it. As a result of this misguided attempt at relevance, churches have alienated the very people it has tried to reach.

This is why I believe that the only way to change the world is through a logical approach. It worked with cigarette smoking. We all know the consequences of smoking on health. The same is true for a number of sacred cows in the world: premarital sex, cohabitation, gender and race equality, world peace. These holy icons of the modern age need to be slain and they can be so destroyed through the employment of logical thought.

As much as I wish that this could be done through some universal belief in God and Jesus, this just isn't going to happen. We need to defeat the evils of our time and win others to our cause through inspection of the facts and an understanding of reality. Because as much as liberals want you to believe that reality can be something we can all construct through positive thinking and visualization, that's just not the case.