Sunday, June 07, 2009

What We Believe

What we believe is highly conditional on what we have been taught.

I was listening to NPR last week and they were doing a story on Tienanmen Square. They focused on how little the present generation knows about what happened 20 years ago. The Chinese government has succeeded in making Tienanmen Square a non-topic.

They interviewed a University student in Beijing. This girl knew only a vague, government-sanitized version of the massacre. She knew that were other opinions and accounts out there, but she finds them suspect since they are promoted by westerners. She was more likely to trust her government's view.

It reminded me of the rhetoric of many of my fellow Christians. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard Christians proclaim a certain view to be lacking credibility because it was given by "the liberal media". Of course, I am no different. For me,anything said by Sean Hannity is going to be highly suspect.

What is most interesting to me is how quick we are to condemn this behavior in others, but forgive it of ourselves.

For example, Mormons will often get grief for accepting the Book of Mormon accounts of history, when archeological evidence is contrary. However, if a Christian (in my circles) takes a similar stance, this is regarded as being faithful. I saw this one evening at a bible study. There was a movie being discussed in which the body of Jesus was found. Someone asked, "What would become of your faith if such a thing happened?" One person quickly countered that he would not believe it. If he had a choice between believing the event, or believing the bible, he would believe the bible every time.

Same thought line. However, in our case it is faithfulness; for others it is foolishness.

What you believe and to what you dedicate yourself seems to be driven in large part by where you were raised. If you grew up in the American South, you will probably hold conservative evangelical views. If you were born here in Utah, you will most likely be Mormon. If you are a young person in China, you probably have a skewed view of Tienanmen Square.

As a Christian, this causes me to question the traditional views of eternity concerning heaven and hell. Under the teachings in which I was raised, it seems your eternal destiny is going to be most highly influenced on where you were born.

Well... ain't that special!


Sarea said...

I have been talking to a friend about this same topic . . .and how difficult it is to find out who God really is for yourself instead of just taking what you were raised with as 'gospel'. Sometimes my parents express frustration with my decisions. I would rather make a informed decision even if that meant not agreeing with my parents (even though I consider them wise). I am currently struggling with how to teach my children to think for themselves and not just take everything handed to them as truth. (P.S. Glen Beck is NOT one of the disciples . . .LOL and that is directed to my precious mother)

I tend to be leery of the 'traditional' medical community and lean towards alternative medicine. However, I do not blindly accept everything my chiropractor says either. . .life is just all about balance and information. I guess one of my biggest pet peeves are people that make UN-informed decisions . . .

All that to say . . .I am glad that I was born in the North, raised in the Midwest and live in the South (makes me a little more well rounded)!

Chad said...

What a great post, I periodically try to envision life through a different set of lenses. Scientology tried to knock that out of me to little avail. It's amazing the love you can find in your enemy or that person who doesn't fit your sense of "standards". I've just started developing a friendship with a couple of mothers of kids on my basball team because I've been able to drop my "social standards" and all though they are rough around the edges, they are gods unique creation and he loves them as much as me. I'm starting to see why god loves them.

Mystical Seeker said...

I often say that one person's fairy tale is another person's tenet of faith. The same people who will show credulity with regard to some extraordinary claim of their own faith, such as that someone 2000 years ago was resuscitated from the dead, will turn into a rigorous skeptic when a competing faith makes a different but equally unlikely claim, such as that Joseph Smith was visited by the angel Moroni or that Muhammed met with Gabriel.

You're right that this selective credulity is often very much determined by one's background or upbringing.

Tit for Tat said...

This song pretty much sums it up.

You've got to be taught To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught From year to year,
It's got to be drummed In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
You've got to be carefully taught.

Unfortunately I know it for some things too. Its not just religious belief.

Cub said...

Amen! I've given a lot of thought to this topic lately (over the past year or so), and I've been amazed how much I have fallen into the trap of discarding anything that threatens my beliefs. A critical moment for me came when I realized I was unwilling to do what I had asked so many others to do as a Mormon missionary. I was unwilling to ask God about truth with an open heart. I always had the answer in mind when I asked him, but demanded others to open themselves up to the possibility that their belief systems were wrong. I also discovered how unwilling I was to give up social status, family approval, etc., if God called me down a path that took me away from the religion of my fathers, but I had asked numerous other to do exactly that.

I feel like I appreciate Christ's rebuke of the Pharisees, because I was/am one. I see those rebukes in a new light and feel the love of Christ's words because they are helping me work past my focus on the law and what others think of me to focusing on a relationship with Him.

Andrew said...

Great perspective Cub! I know big changes started to happen in my theology when I began to hear what some of my statements and beliefs sounded like to folks outside my faith. We are not willing to make the shifts we demand of others.

The only way any of us is going to win this game... is to quit playing it.

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