I was amused that i was getting growly in Michael’s class (because clearly, Michael + politics + me = badness) and then in Doug’s class (which follows immediately afterward) Allie was getting infuriated because we were doing Pilgrim’s Progress and the theology in that just drives her up a wall.
Mostly i just listened while she ranted after class, but some of what she said got me thinking (duh). For me, theology is an academic exercise. Even when i disagree, i’m interested intellectually. This is true of Christianity at least. Interestingly, one of the big reasons it interests me so much is because i do have a personal investment in it. I was raised Protestant and still feel a lot of ties to that tradition and am inclined to think it has Truth on its side. (Yes, Allie, i know one of our core differences is the matter of whether there is any capital letter Truth, or even if there should be.) I want to learn about the historical accuracy of the Bible and the process by which texts got canonized, and what those non-canonical texts say and why they weren’t included, not to mention interpreting all the texts (canonical and non-) to make them into a coherent theology i can agree with. I keep saying that it boils down to: If Jesus rose from the dead, i have to be a Christian; and if he didn’t, i can’t. But it’s also a lot more complicated than that, because even if i end up claiming Christianity, i will still be interrogating texts; and even if i can’t accept it, the texts have a lot of power and i think there’s a lot of truth in there, and regardless of whether i claim Christianity or not, i will be figuring out what i believe, and i will also want to be able to debate intelligently with people on all sides.
One of Allie’s big problems is the whole being told she’s going to hell thing. No one has ever told me i’m going to hell. I suspect this has something to do with why hell doctrines don’t disrupt me on a visceral level. One reason i can really understand where fundamentalist Christians are coming from, not just because i’m inclined to believe in the Bible, is because conservative Christians took over the church i grew up in and i have listened to them and while i very much disagree with them, i can see where they’re coming from because i’ve lived it, not just read it and experienced it as a distant thing that’s just an intellectual exercise to attempt to understand. (Incidentally, i feel like so often when the Left gives lip service to trying to understand the Right, it comes off as very condescending, very “Oh, those people, usually Southern and/or uneducated, who have been brainwashed by the media/administration and/or crazy preachers.” But that’s a whole nother entry on the broader topic of the moral superiority complexes of intellectuals, which often becomes a Left/Right dichotomy -- one reason i get a skewed perspective of “conservatives” is that i read lots of intelligent, thoughtful, Republicans and Libertarians, so when you say “conservative,” they are what pop into my head, while for many people, particularly at Smith, angry fundamentalist Christians are probably what pop into their heads immediately.) I’m sure if i came out as queer to any of those conservatives at “my” church they would think i was going to hell and would probably tell me so (i would be surprised if they didn’t, because eternity is a big deal and if you think someone is heading for eternal damnation and you don’t try to save them, you are morally culpable in some way -- see why Jehovah’s Witnesses and other proselytizers don’t bother me as much as they do some people? though certainly i can find their persistence aggravating as i very much do not believe in what they believe in). This would bother me because i think i’m right and i wish they agreed, and because it generally makes me sad that people continue to believe (and to tell people) that queer people are going to hell. But i don’t think i would really feel personally hurt -- perhaps because i have long since separated myself from them and while i do think they’re nice people, inherently good people in fact, i cannot personally swallow their religious beliefs.
Conservative-bashing does really bother me, though, often in a “i feel personally attacked” way. Allie was talking about some fundamentalist Christian anti-gay stuff and saying she felt personally attacked, and i said “Well, in some ways you are being personally attacked.” Hey, i fully claim to be a tactless bitch. Giles: "Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?" Cordelia: "Tact is just not saying true stuff. I'll pass." -"Killed by Death," 2.18 But seriously, if someone seriously believes that every gay person is chipping away at the foundation of civilization by their very existence as a gay person, they mean each and every single one; even in “love the sinner, hate the sin,” something most queer people understand to be an integral part of their very being is being attacked as hateful and evil and vile. Similarly, if you think someone is Evil Incarnate, you can hardly think good things about people supporting them; you may think a particular supporter is otherwise a good person, but you think that political belief of theirs is abominable. Am i making sense?
Apologies if anyone feels personally attacked. As always, defriend at will and/or engage me in debate.
Also, it is good for me to be reminded of why aspects of Catholicism (e.g. mystery, good works counting for something) appeal to people.