Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Fake Reality

Okay, I know that I've revisited this theme over and over again. But once more, I've had this issue become overwhelm me in the past few weeks.

Based on comments and private e-mails, I often come across here when I write, like I'm throwing spears at what we used to call "hypocrites."  But that is like looking at the trees while I'm tying to talk about the forest. Failures of individual Christians are the symptoms when I'm interested in the disease. There is something much bigger here than just a person being a hypocrite. Even the thinking of someone being a hypocrite seems to be out of touch with the seriousness of the matter. More than just a choice by a bad person, but a whole mind set of being a disconnect between living magically in Christianland and the reality of being human.

There is something inherently wrong with a chunk, let me say one brand, of American Christianity that takes the "faithful" to a place where they are so out of touch with reality that is like psychosis-lite. I will describe the things that brought this to mind.

The first thing was in a couple of events in my real life.  I want to take caution in what I say in a public forum like this. But I got a glimpse into the private lives of a couple of local Christians, previously used as examples of godliness, where the private life were nothing like you would expect.

I will speak tangentially a bit, but one man is considered the saint of saints in my recent evangelical world.  Over and over I heard how he was the example that all Christian men should be.  He is the one who told me many times that he doubted my faith because I didn't agree with him that the earth was 6,000 years old.  It was his statements that led me to leave my last church.  But I got an unexpected, and disturbing, glimpse into his private life this week. I wasn't looking for dirt. But the news came to me in an unexpected way from within his family.  In his private world he thinks and lives in a way that I couldn't even imagine, and I'm not that good of a guy. But once again it makes me believe that all the saints, which I was told about over the years, . . . well, that they are all frauds.  I know I was a fraud when people used to be amazed by  my "godliness."

The next thing that brought me face to face to this reality was more impersonal . . . namely a couple of reality TV show

I am a fan of murder mystery TV shows that you see on Dateline or 48 Hours Mystery. Mostly because I am intrigued by human behavior, especially of the psychopath or sociopath, whom has no sense of guilt.  I think it amazes me so much because I feel plagued by guilt, even when I do things right.

So the first one was, I think Dateline.  In that episode, it told the story of Sarah Jones. She was a gal in her late 20s.  She was the homecoming queen in high school and came from a devout evangelical family. She became a high school teacher herself.

The first event in this course of things was she got a job as a Bengal's cheerleader.  In that role she wore a skimpy halter top and shorts that were so short and showed about as much as her butt as a thong.  She wore this in front of tens of thousands of people each week. She was also in that cheerleader culture. They partied and took a lot of seductive photos. She made friends with a co-cheerleader who too was a strong evangelical.

Now here is the first disconnect.  When she was asked about her cheer-leading job she said something to the effect that she never considered it to be sexual at all.  Her strong Christian mom thought the same.  Really? I guess Hooters is only about the food, that's why some men prefer to have their Bible studies there.

So, the next major disconnect was the fact that rumors started to spread that she (and she was married at the time) was having seductive interactions with some of her male students. They showed an interview where she arguing that those rumors were false.  She smiled a lot and, for all purposes, called on God Himself as a character witness.  She said that she was a strong Christian and never had any inappropriate relationships with her male students and that God would defend her because He (implying they) stood for truth.

Then a boy's cell phone was found and it was full of X rated texts from her . . . I guess you would call it "sexting."

Then they interviewed her again. At first she denied it, but when proven that they were from her, she finally admitted it, but some how put a good face on it.  She swore that she had never had physical contact with the 17 year old boy.  Once again she said that God was on her side and would defend her character . . . you know, God and her are friends.

I know you see this coming, but then the boy admitted that he was having sex with the teacher (in the old days we called this adultery).  Well, when it got out, she left her husband and ran off with this boy. But here is the greatest disconnect, she still sees herself as in the right, in God's will and that God is her biggest defender. But what about all the lies she told, not to mention the seducing of a minor and adultery?  Do you see what I mean? She was comfortable with her sin in a strange way. I'm saying this is not just an exception but a symptom of something deeply philosophical in the way that our Christian society has created the disconnect to reality.

Last, and much more grave, was the example last night on 48 Hours Mystery, titled "The Preacher and the Porn Star."  It is a story about a man who was quite gifted (he is such an over-the-top extrovert I sense at least some ADHD).  He went to Bible college and became a very successful youth pastor, traveling the country, speaking at youth rallies.  His biggest gift was his performance arts, especially mime.

While still being this youth preacher guy, he, without much shame, said he liked to party hard, especially in Vegas (sexy women, drugs, alcohol . . . but God was okay with all of that).  He had come into a fair amount of money from his preaching and starting a couple of businesses.

To make a long story short, he met a gal in Vegas, whom he called a "dancer" but she earn most of her money from her own porn site.  He also seemed to think that God was okay with that.

He moved in with this gal (God was okay with that too).  After he took her home to meet his parents, they were a little shocked when two nephews told his parents that they knew the woman from her porn site (don't have to guess much to figure out how they knew).

Well, this pron start living with the dynamic preacher started to tell her friends that  he was physically abusing her. God seemed to be okay with that too.  Well, to cut to the chase, the woman was found beaten to death.  It was horrible.  There wasn't one square inch of  her body that didn't have cuts or bruising.

The man was interviewed and what I sensed was a total lack of guilt or remorse.  He was arrested.  He claimed that during a drug and "rough sex" session, she beat her self up.  The strange things were how they proved that he was still doing business on the phone, even after he knew she was dying.  After he had called 911.  It was bizarre.

Then the case was botched and he got off scott free. He has no remorse.  He immediately went back tour as a Christian-preacher-entertainer.  His first gig . . . a Christian policeman's conference.  But there is something very wrong with this picture.

I know I've talked about this here a hundred times. But it has to do with connection to reality.  Contemporary  Evangelicalism seems to have found a restful home up on the 60th floor (with reality being the ground).  It is this disconnect that breeds this attitude of keeping the face of Christianity while no consciousness of your own failures.

I started a quest about 15 years ago. I made a pledge to myself that would try to seek the ground floor with all my being, but it is hard. Society, especially Christian society bears against that quest with all of its might.

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