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  1. #1
    you are right mippus's Avatar
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    Default Christianity's Fall from Grace (in the US)

    Jen edit: Copied from here cuz I felt like I doing a large derail... and maybe the topic deserves its own thread.


    America and religion is fascinating. I have the impression that Western Europe is not into churches at all, but probably there is a strong spiritual need. Question is: is the American situation our past or our future?
    Here it seems hard to admit that you are a Christian, nowadays...
    Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas

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    Quote Originally Posted by mippus View Post
    America and religion is fascinating. I have the impression that Western Europe is not into churches at all, but probably there is a strong spiritual need. Question is: is the American situation our past or our future?
    Here it seems hard to admit that you are a Christian, nowadays...
    It is here too. It is sad since the country was formed by and on Christian principles. I guess all the authoritarian types just MUST have someone to look down on for a sense of self-worth. Racism, sexism, etc are not PC now so they use the Christians for that. What I fear is a backlash.. the way INTPc looks... with alot of defensiveness from being beaten up and them diggin in... returning to the old ways that put people off. Its just really sad to watch such "open minded" people be so narrow and destructive.

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    /mini-rant

    As someone who spent 35+ years in it, I'm inclined to see the conservative church as having dug its own grave. What we reap, that's what we have sown.

    So yes, I think a lot of people in the States are now prejudiced against Christianity and lash out at it or have kneejerk reactions to it... and that's a problem they need to deal with in their own lives... but the church mostly brought this on itself.

    For many many years, Christianity was the dominant faith in this country. We rode the high horse. Accordingly we became complacent with being in charge. Christianity neglected the poor. It entrenched itself with the political authorities. It disenfranchised those who disagreed with it, ideologically. It abused those it was supposed to love. It assumed that it was always right and knew everything there was to know about God and rightness. It equated the Christian life with "having the right beliefs" rather than "living the right way." And people of other beliefs would have their GOOD actions disparaged just because they happened to have different intellectual beliefs; if you were a buddhist or muslim or some other person of faith, and acted just as a Christian should in terms of loving and sacrifice for others, you were still told you were going to hell and that all of your kindness and goodness wasn't worth anything. Because you didn't hold the right ideology in your head.

    In the 70's and 80's, as a reaction to the culture exploring other views of life, the church became politically dogmatic. The church wanted to protect itself. I still remember how awful the abortion rights conflict of the 80's was; I hated the church for what it did to itself, the demands it made on its members intellectually, the way it castigated and condemned those who had other opinions that didn't fit with their particular interpretation of the Bible.

    Instead of engaging the culture and learning how to live within it (as Paul and Jesus and the disciples did), pouring out themselves as a sacrifice to woo the culture, conservative Christianity sought power to inflict its beliefs on others. It also wove a protective cloak about itself, to separate itself from the culture, and thus lost any positive influence it might have had. It was more concerned with protecting its own interests than loving the world and engaging it relationally.

    Thus the "Christian subculture" sprang up. It sold its own books, own movies, own clothes, own pop culture. It catered to the needs of Christians who didn't want to be involved in the world and hated what the world was. The culture is self-feeding and self-focused, with commercialist roots, reinforcing its own value system without taking in new ideas.

    All this "liberal" churches? Regardless of their theology (whether it is more accurate or less), at least they were engaging the culture and made themselves accessible. Perhaps they were too inclusive? I don't know, but I do know it's about how you live and who you love, NOT about what you know. From what I can see, God can forgive mistakes in thinking among fallible non-omniscient human beings; but I don't think he can forgive hard, isolationist hearts.

    I am not much for INTPc's constant bashing of Christians; I find it annoying and shallow. And if you read my blog, you know that I agonize over my conservative Christian family's views of me... and I don't hate them, and I accept them where they're at because I understand them, and I try to love them rather than close them out of my life. I really understand and empathize where they are at.

    But really, the general church in the US had it coming. In the very general sense, we're like the dictator who finally got deposed and shoved in the dirt, and now we complain because we no longer have the power to influence those around us. We should have thought of that when we actually had power... and we should have used our power wisely.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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    Good post Jennifer and I agree on much.

    People just don't change.. they always have to have something or someone to beat up... and, in many cases, will use "history" to justify it. Its not unigue to any group... Barrack Obama's minister's statements are an example... taking it all the way from "white" history to hating America. World opinion of Americans another. Today, here, it seems to be Christians and smokers. The obese are next if I'm any good at predicting at all.

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    What is this "The Church" you speak of? Holy Roman Church? I think you overgeneralize

    but regardless, "The Church" will always have its function and will serve as a political catalyst in the future. If MBTI does anything for you, it should show you that much. dug their own grave? "Had it coming"? Not likely, religious institutions manage themselves very well, in the US and elsewhere.

    I don't believe in God, but I believe in the shepherd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    What is this "The Church" you speak of? Holy Roman Church? I think you overgeneralize
    Sorry. The United States evangelical/conservative church.

    I didn't experience that with Cathoilcs at all.

    but regardless, "The Church" will always have its function and will serve as a political catalyst in the future. If MBTI does anything for you, it should show you that much. dug their own grave? "Had it coming"? Not likely, religious institutions manage themselves very well, in the US and elsewhere.
    I'm not really sure what you're trying to say.

    I don't believe in God, but I believe in the shepherd.
    I don't understand that either. Could you explain a little more?

    [It confuses me, growing up in the environment I did: Jesus = Shepherd, Jesus = God, so if you don't believe in God, why would you believe in a shepherd?]

    Quote Originally Posted by Seanan View Post
    People just don't change.. they always have to have something or someone to beat up... and, in many cases, will use "history" to justify it. Its not unigue to any group... Barrack Obama's minister's statements are an example... taking it all the way from "white" history to hating America. World opinion of Americans another. Today, here, it seems to be Christians and smokers. The obese are next if I'm any good at predicting at all.
    Smokers... oh dear. Yes, you have that one nailed. I don't like smoking, can't stand to be around smoke, see my father dying from emphysema.... but I don't like the attitude I pick up from some people towards smokers, as if they are criminals or human scum. They're not any of those things. Definitely unfairly vilified here in the US.

    The Obama thing -- I read the clips of his pastor. I don't think I would have said what he did, but I understood why he said it. I suppose this is the difference between listening to the specifics versus listening to the intent/concept. Some people get hung up on the wording, but the context sometimes changes what the words seem to mean. It being an election year, it was inevitable that any little snippet would be exploited, forcing Obama to do a song and dance to distance himself. Politics just confound me.

    Ideally, what I would like to see is a country or community where people could share what they thought without being vilified... or vilifying others... for sharing it. I spent a few weeks on the ex-Christian.net site and finally just left. I could identify with a few people with poignant stories about how they felt crushed within the church (which happens), but there were enough people there that just had an axe to grind and couldn't see it... and they were doing their own share of vilification of Christianity. That's the behavior I hate to see, regardless of what group is doing it.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #7
    Highly Hollow Wandering's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mippus View Post
    Question is: is the American situation our past or our future?
    Jennifer pretty much answered that question without directly addressing it:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    For many many years, Christianity was the dominant faith in this country. We rode the high horse. Accordingly we became complacent with being in charge. Christianity neglected the poor. It entrenched itself with the political authorities. It disenfranchised those who disagreed with it, ideologically. It abused those it was supposed to love. It assumed that it was always right and knew everything there was to know about God and rightness. It equated the Christian life with "having the right beliefs" rather than "living the right way." And people of other beliefs would have their GOOD actions disparaged just because they happened to have different intellectual beliefs; if you were a buddhist or muslim or some other person of faith, and acted just as a Christian should in terms of loving and sacrifice for others, you were still told you were going to hell and that all of your kindness and goodness wasn't worth anything. Because you didn't hold the right ideology in your head.

    (...)

    But really, the general church in the US had it coming. In the very general sense, we're like the dictator who finally got deposed and shoved in the dirt, and now we complain because we no longer have the power to influence those around us. We should have thought of that when we actually had power... and we should have used our power wisely.
    That ^^ is exactly what happened in Europe, except that it wasn't a few decades ago, but a few centuries ago.

    So: America's present situation is Europe's past. (As would be expected since America is the New World, and Europe is the Old World )

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mippus View Post
    Jen edit: Copied from here cuz I felt like I doing a large derail... and maybe the topic deserves its own thread.


    America and religion is fascinating. I have the impression that Western Europe is not into churches at all, but probably there is a strong spiritual need. Question is: is the American situation our past or our future?
    Here it seems hard to admit that you are a Christian, nowadays...
    Christianity has been hijacked to exploit people for centuries. It was used by the conquistadors to justify horrible atrocities against the natives of the New World who they deemed as "sodomites." It was used to justify the enslavement of Africans to work in the New World because they were deemed to bear the "mark of Cain." It was used to justify the forceful occupation of native communal lands by American settlers. Christianity is a tool with which people can justify acting unethically by claiming they are acting morally. With a rap sheet that long, I wouldn't be proud to call myself Christian either.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
    OMNi: Wisdom at the cost of Sanity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Christianity has been hijacked to exploit people for centuries. It was used by the conquistadors to justify horrible atrocities against the natives of the New World who they deemed as "sodomites." It was used to justify the enslavement of Africans to work in the New World because they were deemed to bear the "mark of Cain." It was used to justify the forceful occupation of native communal lands by American settlers. Christianity is a tool with which people can justify acting unethically by claiming they are acting morally. With a rap sheet that long, I wouldn't be proud to call myself Christian either.
    Those seeking power will always use the predominant anything, including religion, to enlist them... ie: terrorism.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Christianity has been hijacked to exploit people for centuries. It was used by the conquistadors to justify horrible atrocities against the natives of the New World who they deemed as "sodomites." It was used to justify the enslavement of Africans to work in the New World because they were deemed to bear the "mark of Cain." It was used to justify the forceful occupation of native communal lands by American settlers. Christianity is a tool with which people can justify acting unethically by claiming they are acting morally. With a rap sheet that long, I wouldn't be proud to call myself Christian either.
    Those that hijack a philosophy don't get to define it. Would you be ashamed to call yourself a woodcarver because some people use knives to kill?

    Some elements in the Protestant evangelical churches made a conscious decision in the latter third of the 20th century to seek political power and to turn America into a Christian nation where the law of the republic is replaced by the law of the Bible. That is why they're on the defensive, and that is why Jennifer is right. Sadly, they're still winning. But these people aren't Christians. They're tyrants and political opportunists who use Christianity as a Trojan horse.

    The liberal intelligentsia in America constantly bend over backwards to point out that Islamic terrorists are not representative of Islam and that to blame Islam or Arabic peoples broadly is xenophobic and counterproductive. I wish they would extend the same courtesy to their Christian countrymen.
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