I like having internet friends. I have one named Krisko (not his real name…? has something to do with vomiting) and he’s pretty cool I guess. I have had atheist friends before Krisko, but most of my atheist friends (with the exception of Krisko) take their atheism and my Christianity just as, this like, unfortunate side hobby that we both have. We don’t speak of it for the sake of getting along. What can I tell you? It is the Canadian way.
95% of the time, with my atheist friends, it’s like “Oh, I don’t believe that.” And like I’m okay, cool. I don’t believe your thing either. Let’s talk about the Beatles or like Harry Potter or something.
With this guy, he doesn’t really flinch. He’s just kind of like….that’s dumb, you shouldn’t believe that. He’s assertive, and he believes that religion and believing in it is harmful to humanity as a whole. So he argues against it. A lot. I’m more used to the “You believe what you want over there and I’ll believe what I want over here and I’ll keep my opinion of your stupidity to myself,” but he’s not really like that.
So I’m trying to proceed in a way where I discuss things with him not for the sake of discourse but for the sake of getting to the truth (harder than it looks, when you’re on the internet) where I’m not belligerent or prideful, where we don’t hurt each other’s feelings, and where I don’t lump him in with Richard Dawkins. The reason I do this is not because I feel I need to prove myself or what I believe to him, or because I need to be right. I like being right, but I don’t need to be. I do it because we’re friends and because I care about him. And if I was him and I felt the way he did about Christianity, I would want a response from them that was logical and respectful. So I am trying this. It’s like a social experiment. It’s FUN! Right, guys? And besides, I actually like Krisko. Like I like talking to him, he’s funny, he likes Animorphs, shit like that. If I didn’t like him, I probably wouldn’t bother. That might not be very Christian of me, but that’s how I roll.
SO ANYWAY. All this is to say that the latest blog entry he wrote was about REAL Christians – some christians use the argument “Well, Person X is not a real christian, because a REAL christian wouldn’t do this thing or that thing.” Fair enough. Then at the end of the blog post, he asks “How do you define Christianity? How should I?”
As to the second question, that’s something I can’t answer for you. You gotta figure that out on your own. It’s only fair, I had to figure out how to answer it on my own too.
So I’ve written up a list of things that I feel Christianity….is. This is what it is. To me. And much like the Pirate’s Code, they’re more guidelines than actual rules. Some Christians don’t agree with me on all of these, and that’s fine. That doesn’t mean they’re not “real” christians. It just means that we don’t agree. That’s been a hard thing for me to come to terms with, but now I just think that it’s okay. It’s okay if I think you’re being an asshole, because you probably think I’m being one too. One day we’ll all understand, and until we get to that day, I see no reason to fight with you. It simply isn’t worth it to me anymore. If people don’t feel loved by your actions and your words, that’s a clue as to how effective your particular brand of Christianity may be. Anyway, here is my list.
–living responsibly – My friend Sarah Fast put it this way : “We live so simply from our day to day lives not thinking about how so many people in our cities and neighbourhoods are not as privileged as us….we have become too accustomed to our way of living.” How this looks for each individual person, I’m not sure. For me, it looks like trying to live with less. I choose to live in a poorer area of town, I choose to live with less space, I choose to have things that aren’t as nice as what other people may have. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS! But seriously, this is why we can’t have nice things.
–Not passing judgment on other people who don’t self-identify as Christian
–Sharing economic resources with people who need them more than I do
–Nurturing common life among members of an intentional community
–An open door policy to people in my neighborhood, friends, family, and people I don’t know, people that smell bad, and etc etc. Basically, if you fit the definition of “people”, my door is open to you.
–Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18
–Not being overly involved in politics. I’m not saying that it’s not Christian to vote, but I am saying I fundamentally disagree with the high precedence of using christianity to deny civil rights to others.
–Commitment to justice and peace for the marginalized and oppressed, both locally and globally
–Loving the unlovables
More than anything, THIS quote –
“I say to my non-Christian friends and neighbors, if you want to see the gospel of Christ, the gospel that has energized this church for two thousand years, turn off the television. The grinning cartoon characters who claim to speak for Christ don’t speak for him. Find the followers who do what Jesus did. Find the people who risk their lives to carry a beaten stranger to safety. Find the houses opened to unwed mothers and their babies in crisis. Find the men who are man enough to be a father to troubled children of multiple ethnicity and backgrounds.
And find a Sunday School class filled with children with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome. Find a place where no one considers them “weird” or “defective,” but where they joyfully sing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.”
That might not have the polish of television talk-show theme music, but that’s the sound of bloody cross gospel.”