Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Importance of Being Christian

I've had a few conversations in the recent past (recent past being that period of time between whenever "now" is for any given point of time and whenever "now" was at the time I posted in the blog three posts ago. If I blogged daily, then the recent past would be in the last 3 days. As it stands now...the recent past started about 4 months ago) which were trying to figure out why it's important to me that a significant other in my life be Christian. Either that or I imagined that these conversations happened (a very likely possibility. My memory over the last 4 months isn't perfect, and it's prone to invent conversations).
While driving home the other day, the reason hit me. I mean, it's never been an issue that was a question for me. I know that "she" (whomever "she" might be, someone I currently know or someone I haven't yet met) is, she'd have to be Christian, but it's important that I be able to explain to others why this is.
The easiest way I found to explain it is to just phrase some hypotheticals. Imagine that you met the woman1 of your dreams, but she completely refuses to acknowledge the existence of your dad2. Now, I'm not saying that she ignores him or that she doesn't like him, but that she simply is convinced that he doesn't exist. She may put on airs that it's okay that you have conversations on the phone with him, she's polite (but condescending) when the two of you have dinner with your parents. She enjoys talking to your mother, but when any of you discuss Dad, she starts to look uncomfortable as though you're talking about an imaginary friend.
When Dad (who's right there at the table with you) tries to talk to her, she's oblivious.
Somehow, this situation is completely absurd when discussed in these terms, but when it comes to Christianity, non-Christians seem to puzzle over the fact that Christians can't seem to be bigoted and/or biased against people who refuse to subscribe to this "crazy notion" that God exists, interacts with us daily, and is a very real part of our day-to-day lives. I don't see where the puzzlement is. If those two people try to build a relationship, at the foundation is this part of each person which thinks (at best) that the other one is fundamentally crazy. And not the good kind of crazy.

1I'm a guy and a chauvinist at that. My writing follows the absolutely "horrid" trend of using masculine pronouns instead of the socially-correct-but-stylistically-abhorrent "him or her" or even worse "s/he"-type constructs. I'm also going to write as though you're me and let you do the work of substituting the appropriate other characters/situations/whatever.

2Everyone has someone in his or her life who is important to the person. It could be a relative or a good friend (or both). Whatever, it's not important. For sake of ease-of-writing, I'm going to refer to this person as "Dad." Replace this character with whomever makes sense for you.


JadeGordon said...

You and I don't share a faith, but I don't think the conclusions you've come to make you mentally ill, nor does it cause me to love you less. I do think you're crazy, but not for reasons of faith. ^_~

Question : Are you afraid you will find the woman of your dreams to be crazy?

Could you love someone who well and truly believed in God, but perhaps disagreed on every fundamental political and social level and maybe even what you each think the bible says (could you marry a Catholic? A Jew? A Muslim?), thinking you were in that way crazy? That relationship would probably be as hard and problematic as someone who didn't believe a single bit of any bible, no?

If you found yourself with someone who said they loved you, but also seemed to believe you were crazy... I would think it safe to say it wasn't really love, and that relationship wouldn't be a good one to continue romantically. I've mentioned to you before Zillia's parents - her father does not believe in any religion, but her mother is Christian. 40 years, 2 kids, traveling the world together, and they still spend every possible minute with each other. Her father loves her mother very much, and would never think she's crazy just because she has different idea about how the universe works. They've found a way to negotiate and respect each others needs, like any people in a committed relationship do.

I think for your relationship needs it would be vastly *easier* for you to find someone you can love and commit to who also loves God and is committed to a Christian life. Life has a funny way of not being easy, though.

TurboNed said...

So...I should just ignore that this hypothetical person thinks my father (who's sitting right there at the table) doesn't exist?

JadeGordon said...

Not exactly. Not believing the same things, and being mentally ill are different things. You should still be able to talk about "dad", and express what is important to you and what "dad" means to you, and be respected for it (I guess maybe I disagree with the analogy overall...). You can have a deeply loving and mutually supportive relationship and still completely disagree.

Is the point then not so much the disagreeing, but the inability to eventually completely agree?

TurboNed said...

The thing is that we're approaching this from completely different directions. You seem to be looking at Christianity as though it's some combination of ritual/belief/lifestyle. It's not (or at least it shouldn't be). It's a relationship with a Person. That Person is as real (note that I don't say "as real to me") as you are.

I *WOULD* be crazy (not the good kind) to marry someone who has an imaginary friend tagged as "most-important-person-to-me-ever." If someone is convinced that I'm that way, how can a relationship be built?

For purposes of this discussion, that analogy must be assumed correct. If you want to deny that God is the Person that I describe Him as being, that's your perogative - but if you reject the analogy, there's no discussion here to have.

JadeGordon said...

So the "she" in this argument would be coming from that sort of angle, no? Then is your view that this "she" is "crazy", and therefore unable to have the relationship in the first place?

TurboNed said...

Yes, I absolutely think that to try and push through and have a relationship given this obstacle would be a mistake and would be glossing over huge problems in the relationship.

JadeGordon said...

Well, yes, of course... but why must we assume someone crazy for not being able to see "dad"? Maybe they're blind, maybe "dad" is in a color range outside "her" visible spectrum. Is "she" truly "crazy" in any other measurable way? What if "she" sees "dad", but is absolute in her perception that his is green with orange polka dots, and you are absolute in your perception that "dad" is pink with blue spots?

TurboNed said...

You keep trying to stretch the metaphor. Tell me how YOU'D feel if you're sitting down to have dinner with Daniel & Mary and some new friend you care about (a quiet dinner with just the four of you), and your friend completely flatly refuses to acknowledge the existence of Daniel.

What conclusions can you draw from that? "Well, maybe we can have an otherwise meaningful relationship."?

JadeGordon said...

I stretch the metaphor so I can better get inside it and understand it, otherwise we're back to talking around it, no?

It depends. I have friends who would fit that sort of problem (who can or have at some point been detached from what I personally perceive as reality, some were in fact mentally ill, some were just... much more like the metaphor), I certainly had relatives that would. I generally figure out how to deal with it depending on the feelings I have for them, and the level of responsibility I have for them, and if it is somehow harmful or destructive to me personally. It is by no means ideal, but it happens, I have to figure out where and how that person would fit.

JadeGordon said...

Lemme try to come at my other idea from a different angle. What if "she" claims to have seen "dad" use gnomish engineering goggles, even though you are wholly and completely convinced that "dad" is only speced for goblin engineering. Say "she" tells you that she has met and knows "dad" very well, and this is how he has asked her to interact with him. "Dad" doesn't want "her" to call him by the same name that other people call him by, and he doesn't want her to acknowledge his actions in the same open way that you do. This is how "she" and "dad" are comfortable with their relationship.

Weird as it might be for me, I would be okay with the unidentified new friend never acknowledging Daniel if that was what both Daniel and the new friend wanted. I never pretend or assume that I know everything, people are unique - they think and do a lot of stuff I don't get, don't like, and I wish weren't true, they often make their choices based on things I know little or nothing about. I'm not going to really judge someone for rightness or wrongness, I'm mainly going to worry about myself, and safety, and size other people up on their threat level. If it seems safe, I can learn to enjoy them and their presence in some way, or carry on. I would hate to pass up the potential to have someone awesome in my life because they didn't see what I saw.

Karya said...

Jade, I see your point that you could be friends with someone that had a different view of certain things, had illnesses, or was just quirky. But, the key to Troll's metaphor is that the Person that she is not acknowledging is the single most important person in his life. Relationship deal breaker.

(Also, yay for more Wistful Thinking posts! Nice to communicate with ya'll!)

Aussie said...

Nice analogy. Good post! Thanks for sharing.