I’m not sure how long this has been going on? Maybe a year? But I’m angry and annoyed with Christians and the Christian church. Not any particular Christians or churches, just kind of as a whole. I recently drove by a new church in the city I live in and I thought to myself, “Oh great. That’s what we need here is another church!” I live in the south/mid-south and there are an abundance of churches, to say the least. Probably more churches per capita than any other city in the US. Are my feelings and reactions just delayed? Most people are angry when they first leave church/Christianity. Mine seems to have surfaced, years later.
Ok, let’s back up a little bit. I quit attending church on a regular basis in 2006. I wasn’t angry with the church or hurt or anything like that. At that time, I had begun to see how ineffective the institution of church is at communicating God’s love to people and helping them to discover who they are in that love. That was my opinion at that time. And I just thought there must be a more relationship oriented way of doing this. Some call it an organic way of sharing God with people, outside the walls of the institution of church. Then my views on things changed more and more until now, I really wouldn’t consider myself a Christian anymore. Again, this was not out of hurt or anger or spite or anything like that. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Christian church. I just started seeing things and asking questions. And voila! Here I am.
I’m wondering if the meditation and mindfulness and other practices are bringing out repressed feelings that I didn’t know were under the surface? Hmmm… could be? Most of the Christians that I know are kind and genuine and loving people. I’ve encountered hypocrites who claim to be Christians, but I think most people are hypocrites to some degree. Everyone is fighting battles and has issues. I’ve known that for a long time so I don’t think it’s anything like, I’m mad at hypocrites. When I drive down the road and see Bible verses on billboards, I get annoyed. My wife is still a practicing Christian and when she tells me about the church service, I get annoyed. I don’t let her see it. Or try to not let her see it. I know it helps her and I just try to be happy that she is excited about what she just experienced. And often when I pass a church, I just feel angry. I’ve caught myself a few times taking sides with other people who are angry at church and Christians and God. I don’t want to take sides. People will always have differing opinions. Especially with religion and politics! But I want to be able to disagree without it becoming personal. This is an excerpt from Timber Hawkeye’s book, Buddhist Bootcamp that sums up where I want to be regarding these thoughts:
You don’t have to agree with, only learn to peacefully live with, other people’s freedom of choice. This includes (but is not limited to) political views, religious beliefs, dietary restrictions, matters of the heart, career paths, and mental afflictions.
Our opinions and beliefs tend to change depending on time, place, and circumstance. And since we all experience life differently, there are multiple theories on what’s best, what’s moral, what’s right, and what’s wrong.
It is important to remember that other people’s perspective on reality is as valid as your own. This is why the first principle of Buddhist Boot Camp is that the opposite of what you know is also true.
No matter how certain we are of our version of the truth, we must humbly accept the possibility that someone who believes the exact opposite could also be right (according to their time, place, and circumstance). This is the key to forgiveness, patience, and understanding.
Well said. I especially like, the opposite of what you know is also true. Yep. Something that I’ve learned over the last few years that is very different from the way I used to think, is how to deal with something about me that I want to be different. It used to be that I would fight the anger and annoyance and find scriptures to read that I thought would help change the way I look at things. One thing that I’ve learned from tai chi is that when you fight or resist something, you give it more power to be able to defeat you. In many Chinese martial arts there is a saying, yield to overcome. I first heard of taking a different mindset when reading Eckhart Tolle, and then other authors. Simply notice the thoughts or feelings or behavior. Notice, in my case, the anger toward Christianity, without judgement. And be curious about it. What triggers it? What thoughts arise? What feelings does it produce in my body and where? Things like that. This noticing and curiosity often will simply dissolve these “negative” feelings without any combative effort on my end. So why is the annoyance and anger in me still hanging around? I don’t know? I have to admit that I haven’t been consistent in my noticing and curiosity. So maybe by writing this out, it will help me to be more mindful about that. I do want to say that I don’t believe that you shouldn’t resist saying or doing things that are hurtful. For example, I might have the urge to slap the stew out of someone for some reason, but it is best if I restrain myself from acting on that urge. LOL And it’s probably also good to go back and read things like what Timber talked about, similar to when I used to read Bible verses in the past. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt me to do so. 🙂