Monday, November 30, 2009

Hateful theology.....

Words mean something. And when we use words to promote hate, however cloaked it is in theology, it's still just plain wrong!

Sunday morning, I went to my class. It is a fill-in class and a big disappointment after the Life Coaching class last month. The focus is Psalm 119. The class is called "Sweeter Than Chocolate." Well, the way it is being interpreted and presented, it should be given the name "More Bitter Than Lemons".

The instructor of the class has blown me out of the water twice now with hateful comments. Her first statement was regarding the death penalty, justifying her support of institutionalized murder. She didn't talk about deterrents or any of the other usual justifications. She framed it in hatred for the criminals.

If this woman was a Muslim, she'd be on the Homeland Security Watchlist!

Her second statement was "we should hate sin. There is too much tolerance of sin these days."

I'm no one's theologian but even I know that the word "sin" translates to "mistake".

There are many approaches to human imperfection and our mistakes. The one I hold is that people who make mistakes usually act from woundedness or ignorance. And, yes, some people are just "born bad". I do believe that. But that's another issue for another time. I still don't believe I have the right to murder them.

At the same time, I think the purpose of religion is reconciliation and healing. It is about a loving universe or God that seeks to heal us, to comfort us and to help us make good choices. It's not all that different than the Ten Precepts of Buddhism. There are rules that make our lives work. There are behaviors and beliefs that lead us to misery. It should be used to bring us together, not tear us apart.

There are some who believe that religion is to execute social control, discourage freedom of thought and to scare people into following cultural customs and norms. They use it to disempower large groups of people so that they can control them. Their greatest tool is fear. That kind of religion, as Marx once said, is the opiate of the masses.

I've read a lot about Jesus over the years and he was amazing! He was straightforward, blunt, honest, authentic and he was very, very kind! Kindness isn't always sappy sweetness. Sometimes kindness is giving someone information they need to make good choices. Sometimes that's bluntly. He healed. That's not to say he never got mad. He got frustrated. Cursing a fig tree for being barren out of season is a sign of frustration, not hatred. There are times when he rebuked people but it wasn't out of hatred or rejection.

The instructor of this class has a superior, smug, arrogant and judgmental attitude. I can't help but believe Jesus would find that appalling. I can feel the tentacles of her judgment, even sitting in the class. It's an energy she throws off.

She has taken a dislike to me, as well she should. We think nothing alike. While I'm sure we have some things in common, I doubt either of us care enough to share our time with each other. I offered to buy a book for a woman who couldn't afford one. I negotiated a bit, said I would pay $15.00 for it rather than $25.00. It's better than giving it away, right? She commented that the woman who needed it hasn't been coming to the classes that long, so why should she get a break? I said "kindness" and walked away. What could I possibly say to something like that? The woman didn't get the book because they wouldn't sell it to me. I guess they think she should be "punished" for not coming to enough of the classes. Yecht! (Since I likely won't finish the class, I'll just give her mine.)

The next few weeks are going to be a challenge. If nothing else, it will test my tolerance for being around people who honestly carry such hateful attitudes - and choose to live their lives in such a small, harsh and unrelenting cocoon. I think it would be a rather smothering and unhappy place to be. I'm happy and grateful that I no longer live in that world.



Catherine said...

I"m sorry you had that experience. I've had a few of those myself, and I know how it feels...

Olivia said...

It's really good that you could identify exactly what she was doing, instead of just feeling badly afterwards and not knowing why. This will help you to avoid such folks in the future. I too would have felt slimed. I know how this feels with respect to religion and is so frustrating.

It's that no mean theology thing.

When I think back on all the times I did put up with mean theology, it makes me so glad that I'm not involved in it anymore. Grateful.

Wishing you more and more kindness, and those who practice it,


MARY G said...

The saddest thing is that she is probably a miserable person all the time.
What I hate the most about mean-spirited religion is the belief that *they* are going to heaven and you are not. As if it would be heaven with them in it.

secret agent woman said...

Hate in the name of religion is always troubling. I suppose this woman has her own reasons for having embraced a theology of hate - a sin in iteslf, no doubt grounded in her particular wounds. But all you can really do us continue to operate according to what you believe to be good and right.

Jen said...

Do you really want to continue the classes? I'm again and again of the "life is too short" for mean people and mean actions.

My son would love the graphic you have up top. It's the thing that offends him most about organized religions.

Unknown said...

This is what pushed me away from the "Fundamentalist" theology, God is some kind of hateful being who strikes down those he thinks are "wrong".
It is so sad these people believe this and have been manipulated to believe this.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sin is generally used to describe an act of which someone else does not approve.

The woman was apparently so threatened by your kindness, which she couldn't relate to, that she chose to punish both you and the woman you wanted to help. I cannot imagine why you would go back there when the ranks are closed, and no new perspective can get in.

It always offends me when people purporting to speak for Jesus have absolutely no understanding of him, nor would he identify with their behaviors in any way because he was, above all things, compassionate.

Anvilcloud said...

Presumably this is a Christian church? I find it astounding how many Christians are so pre-occupied with theology that they forget to act as Jesus did. In fact, the biggest irony is that Christianity tends to pay little attention to the teachings of Jesus and are much more into Paul's theology. They're cool with the sacrifice and atonement but not so much with His words.

I know I paint with a broad brush, and I also know there are all sorts of wonderful Christians to whom the above does not apply.

Lifehiker said...

I would not voluntarily go to a class taught by someone who hates, and I would consider writing a civil note to the person as to why I could not attend any more sessions. Without being hateful, one must resist!

You are a very gentle lady.

Akannie said...

Hey Chani...

I agree with most all the posts above. I believe that silence is the voice of complicity. Where are you taking these classes of yours? Personally, I would be writing a letter to whomever is paying her or requesting her services and inform them of how she is acting. This just seems wrong, wrong, wrong.

So good to "see" you, m'dear! Hold my hand and we'll slide on into 60 together. I love reading your blog, we are sisters under the skin. I'll be 57 next month...

TTFN, Akannie

Mary LA said...

When somebody uses ancient texts to mask hate speech, it is always a violation of human rights. I stay away from people like that because there is no way we will ever talk the same language. And I like hearing you name that kind of dynamic so clearly.

Mary LA

painted maypole said...

oy. those people give the rest of us a bad name.

indistinct said...

In here, I see a lesson.

Thanks for sharing that class with us.