This is my second public argument on twitter.
You can read the first, here.
It's worth mentioning that this argument is with the same young lady.
(Who is, in fact, a lady--even if I my disagreement with her beliefs runs deeper than the hole I once tried to dig to China. Oh, the things my brother was able to convince me to do when I was seven (& also, that never actually happened, I just put it there for emphasis)).
Also worth noting is the fact that as I was tweeting, I was still all pumped up from watching Red State (for an in depth review of the film, please read Justin Stoke's review on the same page). It's pretty safe to say that rather than blood, anti-fundamentalist sentiment was coursing through my veins.
The underlying concepts of this film, also touched on in my last post about a twitter argument, were how far the rights of free speech should extend, where the lines blur between religion and morality, but most importantly: that which we all have in common despite seemingly profound differences. I cannot recommend this film enough.
The film, as you may have gathered from everything I've already said focuses on the exploits of a fictional fundamentalist church congregation full of crazy fucks based off of an actual fundamentalist church congregation full of crazy fucks. I will not name this church because they feed off of publicity, regardless of whether the publicity in question is bad or not, & I will not be part of this vicious cycle.
But watching this movie DID make me think for a moment about those people.
You know, the guy standing just within shouting distance at the beach or the club during spring break. He's wearing a sandwich board that says, "REPENT," & telling everyone that they're going to Hell.
Or that group of students literally screaming scripture rife with words about sinning and Hell and repentance as you cross campus with your afternoon cup of coffee.
--When people try to motivate others to embrace religion by talking about Hell and sins, I'm reminded of dictators gaining allegiance through fear.
To which, X responded:
--I guess when Jesus preached about Hell, repentance, an sins in the Bible it made him a dictator.
When she got no response (because I wasn't paying attention, not because I was indifferent), she followed herself up with:
--I don't care to force my beliefs on anyone, your life is an answer to the questions u ask and ur choice.
--Just don't act a fool when u stand before God on judgement day and pretend nobody told you. That's all.
--I guess I should be a fluffier Christian and tweet that God loves you. While that is true, He doesn't love our sins.
--I think it is naive to be fluffy about Jesus.
--And naive to think its an easy path to salvation. Doesn't everyone wanna be saved? I sure wanna live forever.
--I think its naive to think our souls just die at the end of our life here. There's gotta be a creator. Its written in our hearts.
After seeing all these tweets aimed at me, I responded:
--Whoa, calm down, this is TWITTER.
& while I could have just turned this into a joke (as I am often inclined to do) & said, "your words, not mine," I guess I took this pretty personally. I then said:
--What I meant was that people should have faith founded on gratefulness & love, not fear.
& then I admittedly got pissed & said:
--Jesus wasn't a dictator but people like YOU who bully people into believing what you believe ARE.
(which maybe was taking things too far)
She then said, in answering my first response:
--lol well sure, but from my experience when my friend Jon died, I asked myself these questions and found redemption in Jesus.
--A bunch of saints have had similar encounters. The first level of our version of love is to be selfish. Like being afraid of hell.
& then I said:
Bringing your friend's death up to strengthen your point was a classy choice. I think this has gone too far.
Looking back on it, I sometimes feel like it was fucked up for me to call her out on bringing up her friend's death. If there's one thing I regret from this conversation it's that I chose to make that move. Who am I to question the validity of her "I should be a Christian" moment?
My grandma found Jesus while she was in prison over the course of twenty years for turning tricks and shooting cops. That's not completely accurate but the point is that (if we do) we turn to God when we're ready for any of a number of reasons.
& I'm sorry for mocking hers.
But I'm not sorry for saying that this form of encouraging people to live Christian lives is perverse, at best.
I, personally, have always found these despotic tactics to be flawed for this reason:
the way I view God is similar to the way I view my flesh & blood parents--
I know I make mistakes. I'm not the perfect child.
But I've always known no matter what that no one loves me more, believes in me more, provides for me more, no one celebrates my successes or laments my failures with me more than my parents.
Growing up, I did a lot of hard-headed shit.
99 percent of the time, these antics of mine were things that my parents had warned me against.
They knew better, & consequently, I knew better. They wanted to spare me pain, anxiety, embarrassment.
But I am & will ALWAYS be a devout student to the school of hard knocks.
I have to do things my own way. I have to do dumb shit & suffer the consequences of my actions: this is the ONLY way I ever learn anything.
& my parents understand that about me.
They respect it.
I know for certain that I've disappointed them by doing things this way, but my parents are always there when I've irrevocably fucked up and am not only ready to admit it but looking for a way to fix it.
It's in this same way that I navigate my relationship with God.
I seemingly ruin a lot of chances & opportunities that could be good for me only to find that in the eleventh hour, things turn out okay. Better than okay.
Often times I find that these haphazard mistakes of mine lead to wonderful opportunities. & it's like I can finally see the forest instead of just the trees. Sometimes the wonderful places I end up couldn't have happened but for the fact that I initiated some sort of calamity.
& I know that rarely this twist of luck has anything to do with me or my capabilities but rather everything to do with God.
I could go on & on about all the countless times this has happened for me, but for fear of getting even more off track, I won't.
Instead, I'll say this:
when I was small, I got caught all the time doing things I wasn't supposed to be doing.
Doing things my parents had explicitly forbid.
Whenever they caught me, before they could spank the ever-loving-Hell out of me, I'd whimper through manic sobs that I was sorry.
& they would say, without variance, "Are you sorry or are you sorry you got caught?"
My child brain couldn't comprehend the difference.
But there is one.
A big one.
There's a difference in being in disappointed with yourself for doing something you knew was wrong
being sorry that your actions have negative repercussions and consequences you have to answer.
To me, this is the same difference between having faith in God because you're grateful, because you understand that no one could or will ever love you as much,
and having faith because you're afraid that if you don't you'll go to Hell.
& I could be wrong for thinking that fear is an unstable foundation from which to build allegiance or faith.
I'm wrong about a lot of things, as it were.