Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Merging onto the Highway to Hell, or Happy Easter, Ya'll!

I’m not feeling very Easter-y. This year the whole narrative arc leaves me cold. I think I’ve been so wrapped around in religiosity that I want to rip off the garments. I have no capacity for the emotional cataclysms people seem to feel when they think about God and Christ. I had no sudden conversion, no breaking down in tears at the awesomeness of it all. I find it almost impossible to worship in environments where people sing songs like “My God is an Awesome God” (I mean, blech) or wave their hands about (“lifting holy hands,” which is a phrase I would like to banish entirely from everyone’s speech as one of the most overused expressions ever). I don’t feel like I’m worshiping anything. I feel like I’m at a concert and might as well flick a Bic while I’m at it. This double-mindedness is about to drive me nuts. I can’t just let it go or put in on Jesus or whatever—pick an evangelical phrase about how I’m supposed to behave.

I am a natural skeptic. I’m not cold, but I find it hard to suborn logic to feeling. I so often feel like a fraud among Christians that I think I ought to just hang out my sign as an agnostic. After all, if you don’t buy half of what the church tells you, most of Christendom will pronounce you an agnostic or heretic anyway. Take the crucifixion. There is no way in hell (and perhaps that’s where I’m headed) that I really believe that God demands a blood sacrifice as part of the divine justice system. He’s supposed to be the supreme deity and not Moloch, right?

Second, I seriously doubt that you go to hell if you don’t say the magic Jesus prayer, that God set it up that way just because he wanted to and he can do anything, including being a petty tyrant. And I do get tired of hearing how God’s ways are not our ways, as if we are simply supposed to swallow that God’s ways are better than ours when we can bloody well see that our ideals at least are more humane and loving than consigning people to the roaster for all eternity. God has to be more moral than George W. Bush, surely.

Third, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really don’t like evangelism. Yes, it seems to have come a long way since the days of just knocking on doors and harassing people on the street, but it’s so agenda-based. Is that really what Christ meant by the Great Commission? Tell people they need to believe in Jesus? Now we’ve started wrapping this up in “outreach” and good deeds and community action, and seeker friendly churches (crap music, cappuccino and no dress code). The agenda’s still there. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many frakking books to tell people that it’s good to form relationships and meet the needs of the community. Someone’s making a lot of money out of relational evangelism. Relational evangelism means be friendly with them until you can haul them into the fold, add their tithes to the building fund, indoctrinate them and then launch them into the heathen waters as relational bait to lure others. That’s called being winsome.

To completely empty love and works of the agenda is called “Social Gospel,” which I’m told is extremely bad for you, because it doesn’t forcefully enough shove a dose of Jesus down the throat of the lost. No totting up souls on a scorecard. No carefully schooling seekers that there’s Jesus and then there’s the highway to hell and calling that “loving your neighbor”. No stoking your personal sanctification engine.

I’ve got to this point and I don’t know why I’m so annoyed. It isn’t as if there are no Christians out there doing good without an agenda. There are plenty. There are plenty at my church. They do a hell of a lot more than I do. I just have a head full of religious catchphrases that I hear day in and day out, and trite expressions about Christ and why He came and what it means. Impatience with the same old outpourings. Impatience with my own inability to “get” it. Impatience with the noise and franticness of contemporary worship. Impatience with always being careful about what I say.

I’m just plain tired of Christianity.