Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dangerous Beliefs

I have many nice, well-meaning people on FB who post all sorts of advice about meditation, ill-defined concepts of being present, and other lite versions of Eastern religions and general mysticism.  (Even those who purport to be passing along Native American wisdom are just reconfiguring some Ameribuddhist tropes.) Just posters with little sayings, simply declaring some banality to be true, and important. Sometimes the sayings are true, or true enough - letting go of anger, forgiving, rolling with the punches, that sort of thing.

There is a darker underside in that I know the people and some of them have anger issues which they play out in this guise of gentleness and wisdom.  But some don't, or not obviously.  Some are fine folks, people you might take advice from on any number of issues. Still, my initial reaction to this posts is to be irritated by the unfairness of much of our public discourse, which regards these religious expressions as benign and acceptable, but Christian expressions to be intrusive and aggressive.  In American mode, I regard this as unfair.* One branch of religions - and not the ones which had any part in the rise of Western Civilisation - gets a free pass as harmless, while Christianity is perceived as a great danger.

Having noted this, however, once one steps out of American mode of measuring the fairness of the public square and into an eternal perspective, I see that this is absolutely true.  Our message is dangerous, intrusive, and aggressive, however winsomely we present it. Contrary to the medieval perception of the great danger of all occult and nonChristian teachings, the Bible usually regards such things as useless and powerless distractions from the truth.  God is angry and jealous, not because we have chosen the other side in the great battle between Satan and Michael (there are those who do, but they are few), but because we have chosen No Side, a sort of oblivion of gods who babble nonsense and cannot save. The two "sides," if you will, are Him and Not Him. The wide varieties of Not Him may not be ranked as we would predict.

So no, it's not fair, and it doesn't matter, because at a deeper level it recognises a more important truth. Those offended by the gospel may be sensing their danger very clearly.

*However, I have friends at church who post Christian encouragement and messages all the time, and in their circles, there is seldom any objection.  This is also true, and it likely seems a bit oppressive to non-Christian.

1 comment:

Texan99 said...

I have to say that the two aspects of Buddhism I've run across that strike a very deep chord are "being present" and "compassion." I can do without the nihilism and the "world as illusion" stuff. Maybe you have to have some difficulty with alienation and numbness before "being present" and "compassion" can be such powerful suggestions, but I often find that the most difficult thing to deal with in myself and in other people is a kind of failure in "being present." I'd also say that it epitomizes Christ's life, while the people He was ministering to were busy putting up all kinds of walls and blinds and blinkers. He experienced it all, and did the right thing anyway. He didn't stick to the right path by pretending not to notice pain or fear, nor did He fail to appreciate any gift put before Him.

Of course, if "being present" just means some kind of fuzzy "go with the flow," I haven't any use for that, either.