/*amazon_ad_exclude = "christian"*/ The Skin I Am In: Thou Shall Not Waste Thy Pity On Me

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thou Shall Not Waste Thy Pity On Me

Of the many inaccurate notions a fair number of Christians tend to subject onto others, this may be one of the more bothersome. I find it egocentric, insulting, ironic, unfounded and yes, even humorous.

The practice in question is the one in which a Christian becomes stricken with sadness upon the discovery of some lost soul who is lacking the guidance of Christ. Firstly, I was curious if their pity targets all non-Christians, including followers of other faiths, or if it is merely the non-believers they feel sorry for. However, as I pondered the topic more thoroughly, it occurred to me that the distinction is a moot point. The bottom line remains the same.

I sincerely have great difficulty fathoming the narrow-mindedness of this phenomenon. It is indisputably egotistical to assume that just because something is paramount in one's life, the same is inevitably true for others. It is a warped and dangerous ideology, indeed, when one is so thoroughly conditioned that they are ignorant to any perception outside their own.


For example, it is no less ridiculous for a Christian to be sad when another person doesn't derive joy from Christianity than it is for me to grieve for someone whose life is not enriched by the
pleasure of photography. Applying the same tunnel vision I could argue, “seeing the world through the eye of a lens enhances life in so many ways that it makes me sad for those who don't experience it's joys.” Likewise, you could apply it to anyone who has chosen different means for fulfillment. Such as someone who has chosen not to have children. Or not to join the country club. Or has no appreciation for the opera. For just as one man's trash is another man's treasure, one woman's misery is another woman's joy. Ultimately, every human being wants for the same thing: to be healthy and happy. Why would anyone concern themselves with the manner in which others use to accomplish this, so long as no one else suffers as a result?

In that regard, thou shall not waste thy pity on me, for I hath not wasted my pity on thou. Although I find the relentless persistence in the pursuit to convince the world to adopt Christianity's insubstantial theories to be a trite pathetic, I personally, reserve sadness for more appropriate recipients. I experience sorrow for the helpless victims of abuse, disease, war, and poverty. I shudder at the thought of abused and neglected children, and mothers with chronically ill babies, and people whose lives have been destroyed by war—a war all too often fought for faith. However, I find no rhyme or reason in affording heartache for the choices made by witting adults.


So, if any Christian wish take pity on my soul, they may wallow in their sorrow. I would only imagine there are many more grievous circumstances to better occupy their hearts.


Contrary to the dark veil they envision looming overhead, I am no less "complete" without religion! In fact, I continue to grow more enlightened and fulfilled the more I learn about myself and the world as a result of overcoming my Christian conditioning and it's bureaucratic double-standards. I am not lost without divine leadership. I am not less of a person. I am not the one missing the bigger picture. Those of us who have 20/20 vision unclouded by religious hypocrisy and propaganda do not suffer from it's absence--hence the very reason we choose not to incorporate it into our lives. I, myself, consider it a tragedy that so many individuals are unable to find a greater purpose without the doctrine of a supernatural deity guiding their way to a rewarding afterlife. Having the strength to acknowledge that my life is not the product of a predetermined course demands that I embody the integrity to accept that my behavior, as well as my happiness, are my own responsibility. For me, it makes no sense to trust such critical matters to anyone else, especially to one of a hypothetical nature.


Along with the presumption that faith brings joy and happiness, it is suggested time and again that religion is a valuable means in cultivating morals; however, real-world studies show that religion actually has the contrary effect! In fact, non-religious countries have the lowest crime rates on earth. Norway, a highly secular nation, where only 10% of the population identify themselves as Christian, has been rated the most peaceful country in the world by the Global Peace Index. The Human Development Index, a similar measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living, has ranked Norway No. 1 every year for the last five years.


In addition to the aforementioned statistics, Gregory Paul acquired data from 18 developed democracies, comparing the correlation of societal health to religiosity and secularism. Here is what he found:


"In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion…None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction.” Within the United States “the strongly theistic, anti-evolution South and Midwest” have “markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the Northeast where…secularization approaches European norms”. His conclusion asserted that, “the more secular, pro-evolution democracies…come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life”.” *


For all those still clinging to the myth that religion serves to better humanity, simply take a moment and think in terms of how religion has actually, not perceivably, affected the world throughout history. If you do this honestly, you will envision a great deal of religious-rooted violence which has gone on as long as religion itself, predating recorded history, all the way up to the ongoing tragedies of today which are being carried out as you read these very words. Thousands of years of conflict, hate, genocide, terrorism and millions upon millions of senseless deaths...all in the name of God! There is not enough good in this world to justify the grief and horror caused by religion alone.


The math is elementary. When you add up the total assets and deficits gained and lost, it becomes painfully evident that the net worth of religion is anything but profitable. Forgo your biases, and chew on that.


Now, please remind me. Who is it the Christians feel sorry for?





* Gregory Paul – The Journal of Religion and Society, volume 7
http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

30 comments:

doug said...

I guess now is not a good time to forward you my weekly liturgy and invite you to my church picnic? :D

The Blogger Exposed said...

Ha! I'm sure it's well-worth the drive! But, alas, there are many a church picnic here in good ol' NC!

OK, I'm out the door to my days "roughing it." Hot water, kitchen, bunk beds, but NO internet! Yikes, what have I gotten myself in to? :D

MamaFlo said...

Wow, so much said before leaving!
I agree wholeheartedly with your thought train and I thank you for the explanation.

Tamera Daun said...

Clear in your message, and powerful in the deliverance. Nice work, BE!

Travis Morgan said...
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Travis Morgan said...

Not to mention their famous line suggesting an insightful superiority, "I will pray for you." Please, give me a break, just look what praying did for these people -
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,341574,00.html

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/crime/2008/03/27/gra

Descartes said...

My own experience has been quite the opposite, once the True Believer discovers your disbelief, they say, quite honestly-To Hell With You.

Jane Turley said...

I agree that Religion has played a significant part in some major historical and current conflicts. However, since most religions profess to be non violent and I believe are non violent in essence, I think it is also inportant to recognise other equally important factors; nationalism, language and culture, history, internal and external politics, geography and economics are some.
In my opinion it is too easy to brandish religon as the cause of conflicts; faith is an emotive issue and so often becomes the "badge" upon which wars are started and remembered; other factors are equally and possibly more important.

I agree though that it's really annoying when any religious person of whatever persuasion tries to force their religon on you. And if I get any more of them on my doorstep I may knock 'em out with a saucepan!

Ps Thanks for the birthday greetings!

Tamera Daun said...

Jane. I will fly over with my frying pan, and help you.

FLOOG said...

TBE- I have but one word for this post...

Perfect

Sod it, actually I've got a few more words as well!

As eloquently and concisely penned as always, and a point of view which, as you know, I share completely.

You raised so many interesting points, but one which hit home ws the arrogance of people assuming you are lacking something without experiencing a facet of life that they do.

If I had a dollar for every person who has told me how sad my life must be because I chose not to have children, I would now have $2,578.96!

A brilliantly written, dynamic post.

Angela Williams Duea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Blogger Exposed said...

While I certainly see the validity in the argument that other factors should also be evaluated in determining a larger picture to these societal elements, as socioeconomic status undoubtedly plays a role in crime and societal dysfunction, the entire point to the study was that the one common denominator leading to these factors was the issue of religiosity versus secularism.

I think most people accept that, statistically, there is less homicide and street crime among well-educated pockets of society.
One can almost certainly conclude that, in general, a more pro-evolution population is also a more educated one, regardless of whether or not they identify themselves as Christian. But, fundamental Christianity categorically supports belief in creationism. Remember, it is impossible to lump every single person who meets a demographic criteria (ie, Christians) into an absolute rule. These are generalities, meaning more often the rule than the exception.

Having noted that, I absolutely contend that there is a very logical explanation to the increased STD's, teen pregnancy and, most certainly, abortion, among Christian populations.

The reasons for these statistics is relatively obvious. Christians, MUCH more often than not, speak of abstinence, abstinence, abstinence and either entirely avoid, or ineffectually skim teaching a more realistic solution to these problems: protection. Not only that, of the girls who do get pregnant out of wedlock, who do you think is more likely to be scared, ashamed, and worried about being disowned; therefore, increasing the likelihood of getting an abortion? Right. One from a Christian family. And very often times a middle-class, suburban one. I guarantee it happens more than you realize since the very reason it gets “taken care of” is to avoid detection of the issue.

Angela,
I do feel that you are sincere in your wishes and bear no ill-intent in conveying them. However, my wish is for people to stop and think about what they say before expressing things that, although may come from the heart, can come off as narrow-sighted to someone whose perspective on life differs from that of the messenger.

P.S.-I do give you kudos for taking the time to read these posts and comment.

To those whose remarks reflect an appreciation, or at least an understanding to my message, I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to lend your support. I certainly wouldn't be as confident about stating my convictions if I felt completely isolated in them.

Angela Williams Duea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamera Daun said...

I am going to have to jump in here, although I usually tend to avoid such discussions. I exhaust from the tension that comes from them.

I prefer not to engage in any discussions of research, as I have not studied any such studies in depth. And, yes. I am highly educated, and capable of understanding research.

Angela. I do not think it is one comment that anger atheists. I think you are missing the point. I wonder if you truly realize the attitudes that many atheist, and even agnostics, have met throughout the years when we do not automatically buy into Christian views. Some of the aggressiveness that tends to be spit out is quite disturbing, with underlying implications that we are all idiots for not just accepting these views. Do you not think it causes frustration, irritation? It actually many times feels like 'persecution'.

Secondly. I almost could not believe my eyes when I read in your first comment about experiencing the 'peace' found in your God. I find an implied attitude of superiority that oozes from your intelligent and eloquent vocabulary. It actually sticks out like a sore thumb. I understand that your belief is of high value to you. I respect your choice to believe in your belief.

I am a meditator of many years. I am most likely more Buddhist in my beliefs. I find it derrogatory that you seem to imply that 'peace' can only be found in God. I have a deep inner peace each and every single day, of which the cultivation of this (in the world today)is something I am extremely proud of. I do not need God in order to experience deep peace and love with nature around me, in my marriage, with my children, and in this world. I find harmony in this world, and 'here and now'. As a RN I connect with the human experience in work with patients.

Point three. I grew up American. I come from Seattle. I also lived 18 years in Scandinavia. I recently moved back to the US and now live in Houston. I long back to Europe for the reason that I am not persecuted by my lack of belief in God. There is such a difference, you do not even know. I have met such terrible non-accepting attitudes upon returning to the US, and it is certainly changed since I moved away so many years ago. The Christian movement has become enormous. The double-morality shocking. My heart aches from it.

I digress.

The Blogger Exposed said...

Angela,

I am not pulling the aforementioned findings on the relation to religion and societal dysfunction out of thin air! I provided a link, or at least the url, in the original post if you need further clarification. However, this, the refusal to accept certain truths that clash with predisposed beliefs, is one reason little ever advances in religious ideology.

I am quite aware that there are many well-meaning, well-educated, wealthy Christians! I come from an upper middle-class Christian family myself. I currently have a cousin, whom I care a great deal about, ready to graduate from the seminary. Considering around 80% of Americans are Christians, I certainly did not conceive that our doctors, lawyers, CEO's, and the like were all members of the remaining 20% of non-Christians!

Please do not mistake and assume that I am saying Christians are bad people; that would be utterly ridiculous, irresponsible and unfounded! However, they are often so certain in the way they believe the world ought to be, that they fail to realize that there may be other acceptable, possibly even healthier philosophies to live by.

The Blogger Exposed said...

Wow, Tamera. And I had previously thought you refrained from commenting on my religious posts for an entirely different reason!

Now, let me clarify to anyone who wishes to use the term "atheist" as an insulting derogatory term (another result of deeming superiority): I do not consider myself an atheist, rather an agnostic, although the difference is minute, and frankly, irrelevant. The reason I state this is that I do not want anyone confusing my convictions as a stance that I contend there to be no god. I am not so brazen to claim indisputably something which has no irrefutable evidence (as it is naturally difficult, if not impossible, to prove the inexistence of a matterless entity); therefore, neither YOU nor I can allege to know the truth.

It seems that we all agree that as humans we have the responsibility to act in caring and compassionate ways, and to abstain from certain harmful behaviors. So why is any threat to the righteous and superior ways of Christianity so bruising? Because it feels like a personal attack on the ideals for which you have staked your core meaning and value as a person. Do those of us who believe in the goodness and beauty in the world, only minus a supernatural vision, bruise any less to personal insult?

As much as Christians would like to believe, we are really not that different from one another. We are all privy to the same information about the world--we just choose to do different things with it.

Lori said...

I found MUCH more inner peace, more harmony and balance with the universe, less anxiety, less unfounded guilt, more self-esteem, and more compassion for others when I LEFT Christianity and ALL organized religion behind. Thank you for saying all this so beautifully.

The Blogger Exposed said...

Lori,

I couldn't agree more. Your comment puts the sum of my experience into a concise and well-said statement! THAT is what I'm talkin' bout! Thank you.

Religion puts so many "rules" and conditions and excuses on what should really be a simple matter.

--Be open-minded, tolerant and treat others as you wish to be treated. Or better, as they wish to be treated. In other words, give R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

--Make the most out of life because this is the only one you've got.

How hard is that?

Angela Williams Duea said...
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Angela Williams Duea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sy said...

Superb! Whats not to like! I couldnt agree more on 99% of it. The other 1% is the colour of the font. Just not my thing. But hey, I will let that go as the post was so good.

piebuko said...

Hello,

I could not say I agree because I am a Catholic. I've had moments when I questioned my faith or the existence of God. In the end, I could not let go of my faith because I have the need to believe in something or someone more powerful than anything else or anyone else.

However, I never tried to force my religion on anybody else. Reading your post, however, you made me understand why some people choose not to have religion or not to believe in God or his existence.

Lori said...

I also liked you distinction (or lack thereof) between "atheism" and "agnosticism." True, impossible to disprove the existence of a non-corporeal entity. If believers have faith so strong that they require no "proof," and if that faith brings them peace and harmony and balance, I'm happy for them. My sister, a "born-again," prays for me daily, that I will "find my way," and I don't get upset about it. I figure I can use all the positive energy I can get. If she's praying for me to find peace and purpose and joy, fabulous. If she's praying that I'll take on her beliefs, she's wasting her time. Because I'm sometimes a bit of a pot-stirrer, I have a bumper sticker propped in the rear window of my car: "Militant Agnostic: I don't know and you don't either." But I do know that I don't need a religion, a god, or a church to know what's right and wrong, or to guide me in being a good person who has a positive impact in my world.

timethief said...

There was no inner peace for me to be found within the fundamentalist Christian mileu where hypocrisy abounds. Raised in the faith and baptized by full immersion I was sent to Bible College where I was taught to the finer skills of self righteously arrogant while looking down my nose with pity at unbelievers.

After all, what other position could a righteous member of the last believing remnant of God's chosen elect ones, selected by Him before the foundations of time take?

Frankly, I don't doubt that the brainwashed are any more peaceful than the Pharisees were 2 millenia ago.

@thebloggerexposed
Please accept my heart felt gratitude for stating your case clearly and kindly.

@tamera
kudos!

The Blogger Exposed said...

To Sy - I apologize that the font color is not to your liking; however, it appears that with your recent news, you may want to start developing an appreciation for pink!! ;D Congratulations, by the way!

To Piebuko - I very much respect you and your personal values. We each have our own reasons for our beliefs, and yours seem to be as pure as any.

To Timethief - Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to mention your personal experience!

To Angela - To repeat one last time: these are not my statistics, findings, or my interpretation of such...I provided a QUOTE on these findings, as well as, the url to the full report. Yet, without even researching this material you swiftly attempt to debunk it's value and manipulate my words.

You mentioned that it is "scientifically irresponsible" not to study beyond the relationship of secular societies vs fundamentally religious ones and crime. In what I am sure was not an unintentional reference to science, it appears the pot is calling the kettle black. Do you or don't you respect the field of science? I find the general Christian tendency to pick and choose which bits of science are to their liking rather ironic. Anything not devaluing the message of the bible seems to be upheld; heck, some are even in search of evidence to support stories from the bible. Nonetheless, other scientific theories and/or evidence is discounted or manipulated when contradictory to Christian teachings.

You stated that you challenged my interpretations of the facts of the study, now I challenge your interpretation that I have said anything that implied Christians to be impoverished and uneducated. I merely posted statistics and quotes which report that secular societies are socially healthier, and that highly religious areas have higher rates of certain kinds of crime. This resulted in your reply demonstrating an air about the wealthy and successful "kinds of Christians" you know. I would like to clear up any misconceptions about "the kinds of Christians" I know. I was raised in Johnson County, KS, the most affluent county in the nation (at least when I was growing up in the 80's and early 90's) and was so naive, I was unaware that being a Christian was even optional.

I won't even get into things I know about some local Christians--but let me put it this way--it is stuff that people in the community would never be privy to. Do you really think that successful people who pride themselves in their church contributions, as well as their image in the community, are going to risk everything by wearing dysfunction on their sleeve?

I truly do respect people's choice to practice, pray and believe as they choose. Some people just have better reasons and more tolerance than others. As much as I despise the many wolves who hide behind their cloak of faith, if religion truly makes it's followers better people, then by all accounts, the world would be remiss to discourage it. For if this is their best behavior, I shutter to think of the alternative.

Angela Williams Duea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FerdC ~ Crazy Medical Cases said...

Wow, BE, the number of posts speaks to the importance of this issue in our lives.

Personally, I have been very disappointed by organized religion. Like you, I was raised Catholic. Now that I have been away from it for so long, I have come to see the indoctrination as a sort of cult. Brainwashing. Guilt and shame seem to be the powerful forces that are used against the "inductees." As small children, we don't know any better, so we follow our teachers without question. Too bad, because it then takes a lot of time and effort to undo the harm.

It is easy for most people to stay in their religion because of the community that is formed, a common belief. A person who goes against the accepted belief, even if it is for positive personal growth, is then pushed by the group to toe the line. All groups work this way, even dysfunctional ones. That is simple systems theory.

That leaves those of us who want a different sort of spirituality out in the cold. We are left to find our own way. And that's just fine with me. I agree with Lori that I am much happier now, without organized religion in my life. I consider myself a very spiritual person. Without getting into it, because it's MY spirituality, not yours, I believe in simple things like helping others, being kind and considerate, leaving a place better than I found it, and such. No big deal. Hell, Jesus would probably agree. For me, the "spirit" is at work when people are good to each other. I don't need to give my money to a pedophile to accomplish that.

Tamera Daun said...

Yepp. Compassionate action between human beings is a beautiful thing.

Angela Williams Duea said...

BE, the discussion we had on your blog went in an unproductive direction, and I’m truly sorry for that. I apologize if I’ve made you (or your readers) angry or hurt your feelings.

Because my words and motives were so deeply misunderstood on your blog, I’ve removed my comments.

Thank you for all you have taught me, and thanks for the link to the religious tolerance site.

The Blogger Exposed said...

To Angela,
If you feel it was unproductive because I wasn't swayed to your way of thinking, then I can see how you would interpret it that way. Yet, you, yourself claimed to have learned a valuable lesson, so do you not think that by keeping your comments posted, others may learn as you have? Additionally, I have read from a reader of your blog, that she found this dialog to be very interesting and beneficial to her.

However, I, too, regret that a respectful compromise was not found.

To All,

Upon paying a visit to Angela's blog yesterday I discovered she was reporting to her readers that she had had to cease this discussion because I became abusive and irrational; however, she failed to provide any supporting evidence to such claim. This is especially interesting since she had posted the most recent comment, and I had yet to reply.

I feel the overall tone in these comments was mutually similar; I was no more abusive or irrational than she.

Since she has managed to conveniently display only the bits she wants seen, by vilifying me on her blog and deleting her entire portion of the exchange on mine (and then deliberately adding a new one at the end), I would like to at least share the response I gave on her blog regarding her claims of my abuse. That way, there is no question about my words:

"Angela,
I wanted to take this opportunity to express that although we don’t see eye to eye, I thought the point in our interaction was to learn from each other, or at least find a common ground where we could respect one another regardless of views.

You have treated me as if I am clueless to the people and practices involved in Christianity. Like mentioned, I grew up in a Christian household, and in fact never even knew a non-Christian until adulthood; therefore, I have been in similar shoes to yours at one time. I am not ignorant to Christian teachings, beliefs or ideologies. I have spent my entire life surrounded by it each and every day. Far more importantly than the study I mentioned, much of what I discussed on my blog I speak from personal experience. As I’ve stated, it would be ridiculous and unfounded for me (or anyone) to say that all people of any one religion act in exactly the same way. Christianity, especially, has many different interpretations. But, unfortunately, I know there is a lot of corruption within Christianity, as in any major organization, and it certainly does not serve God’s purpose to turn a blind eye to it. By adulthood, we all should know that what looks like a sheep, isn’t always a sheep. Wolves many times hide just below the woolly surface.

I personally believe that good Christians are simply good people who practice Christianity. I do not believe Christianity “makes” a person good. So we both believe in the chicken and the egg, we just disagree about which comes first.

My message has ALWAYS been that I wish for more compassion and tolerance (in fact I suspect you got the link for religioustolerance.org from my site); however, I sadly see the opposite ring true from much of the Christian population. For this very reason, my own family doesn’t know that I have discontinued labeling myself as a Christian. I fear the misunderstandings or arguments I would likely receive. Although my family is very loving, you tell me, would you graciously accept the fact if one of your daughters decided to no longer practice Christianity?

Although, I no longer label myself religious, I am no less compassionate or concerned about the state of humanity and goodness. I, like your previous commenter, relate better to the philosophies of Buddhism.

I feel you have been greatly misleading and unfair in your accusation that I became abusive and irrational. Abusive? Irrational? Because you didn’t like my position? That is a very strong contention to throw around. I implore you to tell me exactly what I said that was abusive. You and I both willingly engaged in a civilized, albeit uncomfortable, discussion. If you felt abused by an irrational person, why do you continue to return to my blog time and again to be “argumentative” (your word) even as recently as a couple of hours ago? If you are the righteous and thoughtful person you say you are, you need to look into your heart and evaluate the virtue in spreading such hurtful and inflammatory and most importantly, unfounded, remarks. We ought remember that God sees the contempt behind insidious words."