Sunday, December 21, 2014

Whose Club Is This, Anyway?

It's a good night to tell you about something I hated, right?

It's just a day after Mike's birthday and a few days before Christmas? Good day for fury, isn't it?

First, I wanted to tell you that I had a good day. Tonight, I sang with my church choir and we nailed it, sang to the rafters. I might have been a little pitchy on one note, but it was short and I'm not sure anyone else noticed. Our church even has three bell choirs that played. That's a lot for a tiny church like ours. The group of little kids was sweet, the adults had come a long way since they started last year, and the college level group, the one that drops in from wherever they've been to play bells on a whim, always blows me away.

So why am I so pissed off, you might ask?

I wasn't mad this afternoon either. For three hours at Starbucks, I worked with a friend of mine who has written a really good young adult book. I mean, this thing reads like it's a movie playing in my head. I just finished editing it and he and I sat over coffee to go over my notes. Oh, I found a few things he could work on, but not anything significant. I was so inspired by our talk, I just wanted to come home and get to work on my own projects.

Nope. I wasn't aggravated by this meeting with my author friend. I was glad to offer him some confidence, to walk away from our meeting knowing that he's just got a little more work to do before his book is ready for print. I can't wait until I have permission to tell you what it is. I can't wait until I'm handing him a copy of my project to edit. No, I'm not fuming because of that. Okay, I'm just a tiny bit jealous, but let's keep that between us. He really did write an amazing book and that bit of jealousy only informs me that I need to get cracking on my own stuff. That wasn't what ticked me off.


Tonight, when all my work was done, and there was prodigious work, Mike and I sat down to a movie he'd gotten from his hold list at the library. I had earned a movie. I was ready for a movie. I picked up the movie case.

"Where'd you hear about this movie?" I asked him as I looked at the title, 'God's Not Dead.' It wasn't his usual action flick or drama. It wasn't a kid movie either. Mike is a thinking man. He's read Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Camus, C.S. Lewis, Nabokov. I've never read that stuff. But I hadn't thought he was thinking about God. Hell, I don't mind if he thinks about God. That's his path and I generally leave him to it. He supports me on my path, even got me back to going to church years ago though he described himself as an agnostic at the time. He walked past me and sat down on the couch, patting a spot next to him.

"It was in the theaters about a year ago," he said. "I figured I'd watch it."

"Did you watch it yet?"

"Not yet." And so I slipped it into the disc player and sat down next to him.

First off, the movie was set up so you couldn't skip the previews for the next 'God's Not Dead' movie. Cheap trick. At first, I just thought it was a low-quality production, but I held out hope that it could be interesting. At least, there were a couple of names I recognized in the beginning credits and the premise described on the back of the case sounded interesting - a student debates the existence of God with an atheist. Cool! Debate away, I thought.

But there was all this bad acting and a contrived script. The girlfriend tells the boy to stop standing up for God or she'll leave him. Who says shit like that?

"This is bad. Should we keep watching?" I asked Mike.

"Sure. We have to see if they pull it out at the end or if it's bad like this all the way through."

And then the Muslim character beat his daughter for not sharing the same belief that the rest of the family did. Wait! Don't Muslims embrace Jesus as a prophet? Don't we share an early part of the Bible in common?  That's when I got pissed off. This movie was insulting to a whole group of religious people to portray a typical Muslim family this way. In this storyline, the Muslim father was abusive, the Chinese man was too important and busy to listen to his son, an atheist was aggressive, abusive, and lost, and a whole slew of non-Christians acted intellectually superior toward any Christians that they met. Really?

Well, shit. I've never been treated that way by Muslims, Chinese, atheists, or any other non-Christians when they find out I'm Christian. Okay, once I saw disappointment on my barista's face when I said I was headed to church, but that was just a transitory look and maybe she was afraid I was going to tell her she was going to hell if she didn't join my church. I've been told that I was going to hell too, never mind that I was already going to a different church at the time.

Can those of us who believe in God but don't have any intention to go out and 'preach the good news' go by a different title than Christian? I'll be honest - I'm embarrassed to be defined by people who insist everyone else is going to hell if they didn't pick my church. I'm embarrassed to be defined by people who spew hatred for vulnerable young girls at the doorsteps of a Planned Parenthood. I'm mortified to go by the same name as people who malign anyone who falls in love differently than I did. Can I call myself an Alternative Christian, the way the odd rock band goes by the name of alternative rock? Can I be Christianish, or EquiChristian, or an Evolutionary Christian? I do love evolution and science too. Does that make me a heretic?

Once, a woman told me I wasn't a Christian at all because my beliefs didn't line up with hers, mostly because I don't like selling God on people's doorsteps. Maybe I'm not Christian after all. Wouldn't that be a kick in the ass? Would it be heresy for me believe that Allah and God are the same being? Maybe the fact that I can believe that someone's Allah is wonderful kicks me out of the club.

Maybe so. Whose club is this anyway?

Thank you for listening, jules

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