Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm embarrassed to go to Chic-Fil-A.

*warning...long, convoluted post sorting out old, convoluted emotions.*

Not as a Black person eating fried chicken...not as a follower of the paleo diet sneaking cookies (they're totally worth the $1+ for 1 cookie). No. I'm embarrassed that someone, somewhere, might think I'm one of "THOSE" Christians. You know...the ones where love takes a back seat to anger...the ones that only care about God's proclamations around marriage when it involves excluding gays (still not hearing anyone talking about that whole divorce-remarriage deal that straight people do all the time)...or only seem concerned about God's proclamations around anything when it comes to gaining back some sort of cultural ground they've lost. The ones who likely wouldn't welcome too many of my color in their services. On that same note though, I wouldn't boycott the restaurant because one, I (for the most part) judge establishments by treatment of patrons, employees and community and two, money from the gas I buy goes to support people who murder homosexuals, so forgoing a chicken sandwich seems insultingly self-righteous.

Because of all the drama round the chain though, I think I've figured out my beef with the culture that calls itself the Religious Right.

If you don't feel like watching the whole TEDx talk, the point that jumped out at me was the fact that Michael Dowd (Author of Thank God for Evolution) subtly centers the talk around getting to know each other as humans. Connecting with your fellow human being. He ends it with a quote from Carl Sagan

"Science is, at least in part, informed worship." Here it is in context:

If a Creator God exists, would He or She or It or whatever the appropriate pronoun is, prefer a kind of sodden blockhead who worships while understanding nothing? Or would He prefer His votaries to admire the real universe in all its intricacy? I would suggest that science is, at least in part, informed worship. My deeply held belief is that if a god of anything like the traditional sort exists, then our curiosity and intelligence are provided by such a god. We would be unappreciative of those gifts if we suppressed our passion to explore the universe and ourselves. On the other hand, if such a traditional god does not exist, then our curiosity and our intelligence are the essential tools for managing our survival in an extremely dangerous time. In either case the enterprise of knowledge is consistent surely with science; it should be with religion, and it is essential for the welfare of the human species.

I know that Sagan was an atheist, so I in no way take that statement as some sort of bottom of the 9th conversion or credit Sagan as a great thinker of faith. What do I think he was saying? I think his point was "Church goin' folk. You have no excuse for being stupid."  

He missed something though. I don't think science is rejected by Christians sheerly for the love of ignorance. I think it's rejected because, as the video says, the more you learn, the more you realize you have in common with people from everywhere, from every walk of life. If you don't want to have things in common, learning and experiencing become something to be avoided. Seclude and exclude as much as possible and it's easy to create your own reality every single day. 

I've been mulling over a LOT of very personal and very mixed feelings that were dug up after vising a Christian relationship site where they take a similar stance to that of Mark Gungor...basically it's your job to get married...just do it and stop worrying over love and God leading you to the right person. God just wants you to get hitched and start popping out babies. I'm going to dedicate a post to them, so I won't go into too much detail, but one thing really struck me about the site. I read the posts written for both men and women, for both singles and marrieds, finding the usual subtle messages discouraging women from being educated beyond HS and holding men, those people who are supposed to be head of household, to the lowest behavioral standards possible. Nothing surprising there. What WAS new was the credentials of the people writing the articles and giving advice. Those writing for married people? Licensed therapists, PhDs, veritable alphabet soups after author names. Those writing for singles? They went to church...a WHOLE lot. Thanks for letting me know that my well being  as a single isn't worth the consultation of professionals. I wrote them a very carefully worded, non-accusatory letter two weeks ago to find out what's up with that. I have yet to hear back. 

I felt excluded and uncared for as a single Christian. I felt that maybe one day they would consider me worth the attention of someone who'd invested time and study into their profession, but not until I got a ring on my finger. I was on my own until then. 

All the tea-party talk I hear from Christian Republican friends? I feel excluded. 

Those same people and their anti Chinese bent? Exclusion. 

When I know I'd be more welcome walking into a random jiu jitsu gym than a random church? Excluded and sad.

When I hear Christians beefing about immigration? More exclusion.

I felt the same thing when I saw a friend post this very poignant photo on Facebook. 

The firing of Brenda Honeycutt actually gets to me more than a CEOs views on marriage. 

She'd called out one of the biggest, loudest and most public exercises of Christian exclusion this country has seen in a while. As a Christian, I do not look on this gesture with pride. I've worked for men who prayed before meetings and spoke loudly of family values while beating their wives and openly cheating and lying to customers. Eating fried food does not make a statement. And as much as I do give the chain credit for continuing to close on Sundays in the face of a culture that holds less and less to be sacred, I maintain that people give entirely too much credit for generically standing up for one's beliefs...2 year olds do that all day long and get no props do terrorists and that guy who flipped you off in traffic. 

This is the face of the church I see in this country most frequently...I know...I have my bias because of past and present experiences and I know many people who identify as Republican/Conservative/Right and Christian who are doing the work of God in genuine, Biblical ways...but be it out of personal choice or actual association, I never consider those people to be part of the "Religious Right" or a "red-blooded American Christian". 

I consider them just "Christian" just "part of the Church"...which is how I think it should be...there's a reason there's neither Jew nor Greek. And while I do understand that the identity of the WASP-American is threatened right now, it is hard...very hard for me to be compassionate to the point of ignoring so many slights...slights against themselves even, because every step of exclusion and separation is a blow to the body of Christ. 

It is frustratingly difficult for me to hear phrases like "family values" and "traditional marriage" and "Christian upbringing"...phrases on that surface I agree with, was raised with and work to exemplify in my life, but that have been twisted in an affront to everything I, the people I care about and the people I've been charged to help as a Christian, are. What do you do when people wrap bigotry, callousness, hard-hardheartedness, ignorance and oppression in packages of piety and start selling them on street corners? How do you sort those with good intentions from modern day Pharisees?  How do I sort my own offense, anger and frustration from areas to practice forgiveness and places where such behavior should not be tolerated?

I do not know what to do with that. 

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