the pagitt blog: Our Task

the post

My response:
I don’t know that I would say that we live in a post-christian world, but I do believe that we live in a post-churched world. People outside of churches are in no rush to get inside them, and if anything, people inside them are making their way towards the door. Both of which groups would probably still claim to be spiritual, but losing either the trust or the need for a structured religion.

Personally, I’m ok with that, because I don’t believe that Christianity is nor should be considered a religion. However, I think that once this diaspora is over, people will long to rebuild the walls.

  • christianity isn’t a religion??
    interesting . . . how’d ‘ya come to that conclusion?

  • tk

    In my book Christianity isn’t a religion. (Read isn’t as ‘shouldn’t be.’) Or at least, Christians shouldn’t call themselves religious. I’m not going to be able to make this nice and neat, so expect a huge mess. I’m just going to puke now, and hope you can spot the hotdogs and corn from yesterday.

    Here is one set of definitions for religion (from Dictionary.com):

    1.a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
    b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
    2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
    3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
    4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    1. a. Christianity isn’t just a belief in a creator. Don’t get me wrong, you certainly need to believe in God as creator to be in a relationship with him. It would be hard to consider yourself a friend with someone if you don’t recognize and appreciate who they are. But where most religions stop at reverence, Christianity says that the creator and governor of the universe not only loves us, but died for us, and even lives in us. That’s a far cry for having reverence for the ‘something bigger out there.’

    1. b. While Christians have backed themselves into a corner begging like Israel for a King (only their king is ‘good rule and order’ or the king of the 21st century, governement), that’s not what Christianity is. Christianity is not an institutionalized system designed to focus on worship and belief in some creator. It is the outpouring of the kingdom come, God on earth, emmanuel. Again, it may not look that way most of the time, but that’s where the real church is and what it looks like.

    2. This one could be considered close… Christianity certainly pertains to the life or condition of a person (or more specifically the community that person belongs to)… but this is still focusing on a life based around the religion itself rather than the creator. Religion is not about a life messed up and turned upside down by amazing grace, daily following the ups and downs of a relationship with God; Christianity is.

    3. Christianity is not a set of beliefs. It has been turned into that by many, and there is not much more left of it in American modern churchism, but true Christianity could never be contained in any set of beliefs. Just read the only set of beliefs ever recorded and watch how many times major stances shift and change to reflect the ongoing dynamic relationship of a creator with his creation. I won’t even talk about Christian values and how that has been equated to a narrow political view, but I will say that Christianity is loving and messy, and hardly ever making any sense. The same God who is willing to kill thousands of guilty, unrepentant people in the name of justice will take justice upon himself just to procclaim a single horrible, yet broken with regret, person righteous in his sight. That’s not morals, that’s love.

    4. Sure, if this is the only definition, then yes, Christianity is a religion.

  • I’m about to be very silly. (But if you can puke hot dogs and corn, I can be a little weird, right?)

    Allow me to present . . .

    An Ostrich is Not a Bird: Or at least it shouldn’t
    consider itself a bird. (A silly essay by Julie)

    Here in the midwestern United States we seem to think an ostrich is a bird, but we shouldn’t.

    Dictionary.com defines a bird as “Any of the class of Aves of warm blooded, egg laying, feathered vertebrates with forelimbs modified to form a wing.” While an ostrich certainly has wings, the primary purpose of wings is to fly. Most birds fly, but an ostrich does not. Furthermore, the ostrich can run really really fast which goes beyond being just a bird.

    The secondary definition of “bird” is “Such an animal hunted as game.” Obviously the fine folks of Minnesota are not able to hunt native ostriches. Since we can not hunt them as game, the ostrich must not be a bird to Minnesotans.

    The final definition given for the word bird is “such an animal, espically a chicken or turkey, used as food.” While you can find an ostrich is some weird restraunts, most people here don’t eat ostrich. (They prefer hotdogs and corn!) Some people in some countries eat ostrich, but we don’t do it here, so we shouldn’t call it a bird.

    THE END
    (thank you for enduring my silliness)

    * * * * * * * * * * *

    I think you’re playing a dangerous game (not Intentionally). Dictators, politicians, televangelists, and occult leaders change/ twist the meanings of words to prove a point. Be careful!

    I understand what you mean, but the logic is off. “Religion” is a classifying word, intended to group things together. (In this case we’d be grouping various belief systems together – including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists,
    Druids, Wiccians, etc.)

    Classifying words are supposed to be general; they
    classify and note basic commonalities (Ex: Birds have wings).

    You seem to dislike definition 1a and 2 because they don’t go far enough – but a classifying word will never be specific. We’re looking for general patterns, things that ALL religions have in common. If Christianity has a belief in a supernatural power – then it meets the criteria. (Christianity might be much more than a reverence for the something bigger out there, but that’s irrelevant to the definition of religion – just like the fact that an ostrich doesn’t fly (and runs fast) is irrelevant to the definition of
    a bird).

    In definition 1b the word “personal” was completely skipped. I think it’s safe to read it as “A personal system grounded in belief and worship.” (Does that feel better? Would you accept that as a component of Christianity/Religion?)

    Your critique of definition 3 is fabulous! I think that’s where I really start to understand and enjoy what you’re saying (Especially the first few sentences – Yes! yes! yes! yes! yes!) Brilliant! But be careful here too – a definition tells it like it is, NOT as it should be. If Christianity has been “turned into a set a beliefs so there’s not much more left of it,” then that is what it is.

    And in regards to definition 4 – this is not a checklist where something has to meet all 4 criteria to fit the definition. If it fits one, that’s good enough. (A “scale” can be part of a fish, a musical concept, or a weighing device – – it doesn’t have to be all three before we can call it a scale).

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    I LOVE how you’re trying to take out any icky
    connotations and re-frame it. (Please don’t stop doing that!!!) And I love how you see the world as it should be instead of how it is.

    And, I’m curious, if Christians shouldn’t call themselves religious, what word would you use to refer to a deeply devout Christian? What about a deeply devout Druid? Or a collection of deeply devout people with various belief systems?

  • Marc Gellman is a rabbi that writes children’s books (some of which are marvelous, some of which are not). Right now I’m reading one of his less-fabulous books, but I liked his definition of religion, and thought I’d toos it into the “definitions of religion” file which is dydimustk.com!

    A religion is a bunch of big answers to the really big questions.
    Nobody wants to learn about religions just because there are religions out there. We want to learn about religions because we want to get answers to the big questions. When we find out that religions have answers to real big questions “WHAM!” that is when we want to learn about religions. . . . The way we see it, there are four big questions all the religions in the world try to answer: 1. What’s our place in the world? 2. How can we live the right way? 3.How do we pray? 4. What happens to us after we die?

    If something answers these questions, it’s a religion; if it doesn’t, it isn’t! If these questions matter to you , then you will want to know about religions. If they don’t, you won’t.

  • tk

    Wow, I never got back to your last last post. And I don’t think I will do it justice tonight, but here goes (on both accounts).

    1. You’re right. And if other people want to call Christianity a religion, they are welcome to. But I will still say “I’m spiritual, not religious.”

    2. If Christianity is another belief system that attempts to answer the quesions that Rabbi was talking about, then it is just a religion.

    3. For me, my life is meaningless without Jesus Christ, and I have no hope. What that has to do Christianity I don’t know. What other ‘Christians’ believe about that I can’t control. But I guess that’s why I’m spiritual not religious.

    Love you Julie and hope to see you again soon.