Saturday, June 03, 2006

Notes on the Nature of Evil

I make fun of Christians and other religious people a lot, and have little respect for them because of their profound ignorance about the historicity of their savior, and the historicity of the bible in general, especially when they are faceless strangers, but I realize they are no better or worse than any other grouping of humans and that there are enough subcultures within the big tent that it's unfair to condemn them all with broad generalities. Most of us have at least one area in our lives in which we are ignorant and irrational. In the best case scenario, our pet irrationality is harmless. All too often though, people’s irrationality leads to violence, or bothering other people who don’t share their beliefs, or at the very least, being overly judgmental.

But sometimes my heart goes out to them. Jen from Boston is a decent sort. Writing about the Da Vinci Code she says:

So, I want to picket the picketers. I want to make my own signs that tell the picketers that it’s all going to be ok, and that God loves all people. God loves people who see the DaVinci Code, God loves homosexuals, God loves women who get abortions and God loves abortion Doctors. I want my signs to be bigger than their signs and I want to stand right in front of them, so that all they see is me, and all the world sees is the back of our two signs.

So she is from the “good” wing of Christianity and I like her as a person. Still, in the bigger picture, she is a proselytizer whose goal is to gain adherents, to make people ignorant.
People don’t need picketers in front of the theatre as people are going in; they need people to meet them on their way out. Not to condemn them, but to help them with their questions, and to invite them to fellowship where their questions can be answered.

People don’t need picketers out in front of abortion clinics. No, but they do need to be there for the broken women who are walking out. Where do these shattered lives go? Can the church be the hospital that it should be? Can it be there to help these people put their lives back together and invite them into fellowship?

Hey picketer! Put the megaphone down, fold up your director’s chair and meet me around in the back. Let’s talk to people, not yell at them. Let’s meet people, not accuse them. Let’s welcome people, not scare them.

I don’t mean to condemn Jen. Her motives are good and her approach can genuinely help some people. Although I think we would be better off without that crap as a society, I know that it does help a lot of individuals deal with the problems in their lives, which can certainly be a good thing.

As for gaining adherents, I’m not sure whose way is better. The picketers of hate or the picketers of love. They are probably mutually exclusive. The haters will attract haters and the lovers will attract more morally decent sorts.

But it would be nice if there were a rational lobby who waited outside of churches and other religious places in order to help people overcome their superstitions. I know, I know, that is not going to happen. We have freedom of religion and give those who try to spread their religious beliefs respect, if not silence. Essentially, the proselytizers are telling people that if they do not believe in X religion, then their beliefs are bunk, and we, as a society, are okay with that. But it doesn’t work in the other direction. Standing outside a church and explain to people coming out why their beliefs are bunk would not go over very well.