Thursday, October 30, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I'm still digging out of work . . . spending over 14 hours at the grindstone yesterday . . . but I see some daylight. It is also not like I'm not writing.

I had a wonderful time at Starbucks this morning editing my book manuscript, which I've been working on for two years. I've written two mediocre books before, but this one may be different, I hope.

This book, Butterflies in the Belfry, takes a close look at the effects of Dualistic thinking on modern Evangelicalism. It is not just a sterile discourse, but a deep historical, theological, psychological and sociological review . . . but wrapped in the flesh of my own personal experience as a missionary, then a failed missionary at that. I'm thinking of posting one of the later chapters of the book that deal with the concept of sin and sanctification from a Monist viewpoint. That chapter will be long though.

In the meantime I do want to review some of the observations of my recent trip. I may do a couple now, then a couple after my book chapter.

In case you are stumbling onto this one post I must clarify again my perspective. I am a critic of Evangelicalism . . . but not the traditional critic. I do not look across the American, Christian landscape and point out sin, sin which I feel I have, somehow, avoided.

My perspective is that we all, non-believer and believer, are far more influenced by the Fall than we realize . . . and that certainly includes me, the chiefists of sinners. However, Christians pretend that we are much better than we really are. I think they do this for several reasons, but looking at it from a Monist’s perspective, one of the problems is that they consider all our faults as “spiritual” thus removed from the physical self. If our faults are just spiritual sins, then repentance is easy.

However, if our faults are rooted in the physical-brain (but still a result of the Fall) then change comes much more slowly. For example, we all have psychological baggage and that baggage becomes rooted on the framework of our physical brains. Brains change very, very slowly.

So what happens is that when the Christian believes that they can repent and change overnight, but in reality their fall is far deeper, then they simply create a fa├žade or veneer over reality. Jesus called this situation as white-washed walls.

So that is the point of my criticism . . . seeking a higher honesty, not proclaiming that I am some how less sinful.

With that said, I will comment that during my recent tour of the Bible Belt (my childhood home) the Christian farce-ness is very different than the Midwest or Pacific Coast Christian Farce-ness (which I now call home). I thought about what the difference could be. I think it is simply the old-Bible belt has become so comfortable with its farce-ness that they wear it more superficially.

The example is, the pastor in our old Baptist Church is still around, although he is retired. It turns out (I didn’t know when I was a child) that he has had a mistress for over 40 years. Now that his wife has died (btw, he wrote a moving book of how God supported him during her illness . . . he doesn’t mention in his book that he was bonking his mistress on the side and couldn’t wait for his wife to die so he could marry her) he does want to marry her.

But this kind of “mixing” is not that unusual in the area where I grew up. For example, recently a young gal (20s) who was married with a small child, had sex with the head deacon (in his 50s) so that he would choose her for the church pianist. The new pastor thought that wasn’t good. But the people, who’ve been at that church for years, thought that the issue was the pastor meddling in business that wasn’t his own.

In the Midwest, the girl might sleep with the deacon, but it would be extremely hidden. They would do it in such secret that no one would find out. If anyone did find out, they were pretending that it never happened.

What drives me crazy is the pretending. People would sit in the context of the church I grew up in and preach against homosexuality, alcohol, sex (in general) but at the same time, have a trunk full of booze, having homosexual lovers, and mistresses . . . but they would pretend they didn’t like those things. Everyone one would know that each other is pretending . . . but its all part of the game.

My point is they should come clean. If you have a trunk full of booze, don’t sit in the old Baptist church shouting “Amen!” every time the pastor says that alcohol is sin.

More to come.

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