Monday, February 08, 2010

Persecuted For Being Annoying

I grew up in charismatic /evangelical circles. One of the mantras a young person in that subculture often hears is that "the world (non-Christians) will hate you because of what you believe!" or some variant on that theme.

So, it was quite a shock to me when I took my first real "secular" job (Wendy's) at the age of 16 and found that all of my pagan co-workers were quite pleasant. Rather than persecuting me, they were as polite and as friendly as could be. In fact, over the month's I discovered that their level of kindness and courtesy was actually better than many of the Christians I knew. I have seen this truth played out again and again over the decades.

Now that I am older and have those 20/20 rearview spectacles, it is clear to me why various religious people struggle with discourteous behavior. You simply can't spend your life thinking of others as being less than you, misguided and corrupt, being bound by sin, etc.. without damaging your ability to love and be lovable. In addition, any resistance a religious person might receive for their bad behavior is often misinterpreted as persecution. Negative social cues that would normally help correct poor conduct often rather serve as fuel for the religious person. As I read on a facebook comment today:

" I am always amused when (Christians) literally annoy the bejeezus out of others, get flack for it, and then attempt to claim they were "persecuted" for their faith."

Reading that comment made me laugh out loud, and cringe a little, because I have been guilty of having been absolutely obnoxious for my faith, got shunned for it, then walked away with the pride of the persecuted.

7 comments:

Don said...

Been there, done that, got the "persecution badge". Now, on to better, no, much better things.

Steve said...

All too true. I made more friends in six months working at Arby's than I did in six years of youth group.

Cody Stauffer said...

Oh, man, I love that little cartoon. You're right, though. It's funny, because when a group that a lot Evangelicals have a problem with, say NOW or PETA or something, comes out and does something really annoying or plain cantankerous (lots of groups do this, even ones I happen to agree with on some things), we're all over it, pointing out how it lacks civility, etc. But when we do it- and we do it a lot- it's like we think we get a free pass, and just like you are saying, if someone speaks out against it, usually it has way more to do with our grating tone more than anything else. But of course, it's pure persecution.

OneSmallStep said...

**I have been guilty of having been absolutely obnoxious for my faith, got shunned for it, then walked away with the pride of the persecuted.**

Here's a general question -- if I'm told by ten different people that there's a certain behavior I have that is offensive, I more than likely step back and try and review my behavior, to see how correct they are.

Why don't Christians like the one in the cartoon do the same? What is it about the theology that gives them a "I can do no wrong" sort of attitude? Why isn't the self-analysis in place?

Andrew said...

Don - I hear ya. I don't know if you have read the Pilgrim's Progress, but there is a scened where the protagonist has a great weight lifted from his shoulders and he is ecstatic with relief. I feel that way as I am freeing myself of many of the trappings of Christianity.

Cody - that free pass attitude is grating. I always think of Steve Taylor's song: "Welcome to our church
Whatcha wanna solve?
We can help you evolve from merely self-righteous
To perfectly smug"

OSS - I have a guess about that. I have noticed some of my conservative friends blanch at having some of their more outrageous postulations questioned. Just asking them to define or clarify their thought makes them angry. I am beginning to believe that this arises from having their belief given to them prepackaged. They did not "earn" this opinion through study and experience... it was imparted. Therefore it does not go very deep, and answering nuanced questions is therefore difficult.

In a similar way, I think many Christians have their beliefs imparted to them. Again, they did not earn these beliefs through study and experience. So, they have a belief that their view is right, but because of the way in which the belief was acquired, in is inherently insecure and must be compensated for with smugness and false bravado. These traits would be the antithesis of self reflection.

David said...

Steve: There's another line in Smug (Steve Taylor) that always struck me.."Hey, get off your knees, that part don't come 'til later
God will not be pleased"

More Christians are now seemingly obsessed more than ever with having the rhetoric and appearance down. Instead they should be seeking the truth and answers from the very one they claim to serve.

eileencogan said...

you've heard of self-fulfilling prophesies, eh?

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