Sigh.

You know, for a country whose bedrock principles include freedom of religion, we only do so okay. I doubt many Buddhists or Jews or Muslims are prevented from actually practicing their faith – and I may be wrong about that – but it’s for sure that they can only be so visible once they reach a certain plane. Consider Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of the House of Representatives, of whom Glenn Beck of CNN immediately said that he needed to be reassured that Ellison wasn’t a terrorist. (Ellison is my representative, and I can assure you he’s a lovely man whose concern for his neighborhood in North Minneapolis is apparent and whose politics are about peace.) Another rep said that Ellison should be required to take his oath of service on the Bible and made a big stink when Ellison preferred to take the oath on his copy of the Koran.

Today, in the House of Representatives, a Buddhist cleric was able to deliver the opening prayer, but several protesters had to be removed from the chamber before he could do so. They were shouting prayers and disrupting the Buddhist cleric’s words, referring to his presence as “an abomination in [the Lord’s] sight.” Nice.

This is exactly the kind of thing that leads me to doubt and distrust. Certainty in religion often seems to lead to intolerance, arrogance and finally oppression of others. Uncertainty seems to lead to more spirituality and connection with God. But where is the church where people say, “I’m not sure. Let’s figure it out together!” ?

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6 Responses to “Sigh.”


  1. 1 Worried Visitor July 13, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Wow. I mean no disrespect here, but I actually need to ask what you yourself claim to believe in. Do you claim to be a Bible-believing Christian? If you do indeed live your life according to the Word of God, then I’m sure you’ll remember John 14:6 where Jesus clearly states,

    “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.”

    Or perhaps a line or two from Exodus 20:2-6 where our Lord says,

    “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

    Mark 16:14 -16, 20 – “Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table, and He rebuked them for thier unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believves and is baptized with be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned…And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”

    John 2:13-17 – “The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple He found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen. And He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned thier tables. And He told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take thes things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume me.'”

    Show me in Scripture where it teaches us to be tolerant of those who reject the Most High God. I don’t think we should show hatred towards them, but letting them pray to thier false gods in the buildings of our nation’s capital, and in the midst of those who represent our country, I think we’re asking for severe judgment.

  2. 2 hdolezalek July 13, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks for posting, Worried Visitor. I’m sure it isn’t obvious from About Me, but I’m an agnostic and this blog is about my experiences of God as compared to those of Christians.

    And Scripture may not say to be tolerant, but the Constitution does. You don’t have to like that part of the Constitution, and you don’t have to believe what others do, but this government is not founded on Christianity. On the contrary, it was founded by Christians who knew how religious intolerance could tear a country apart and cause civil wars – they had seen it happen.

    They understood that religious freedom for all meant all, not all who are Christian. Nobody has to believe in what they consider to be false gods, but nobody gets to shout down anybody in the nation’s capital, which is for everybody.

  3. 3 Worried Visitor July 13, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    I appreciate your response, and had I seen your “About Me” beforehand, I would not have posted what I did. I did go off half cocked, but I was worried that a Christian would write that. Obviously, as you have stated you are agnostic, so I understand why you would write what you did. Obviously, we are not going to agree on this issue, but I do wish you the best in regards to your writings on your experiences with God, and I hope you find what you are seeking.

    God bless you.

  4. 4 Chuck Warnock July 13, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Holly, this is why I make commenters register. Could you have been given a better example here? Now that you brought up the Buddhist thing, have you read Thich Nhat Hahn? Wonderful Buddhist writer, peace activist, and gentle soul. You’d enjoy him. — Chuck

  5. 5 Ed July 14, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading your site for a good while now. Though I am a committed Christian myself, I enjoy reading about your impressions, and often your comments provide me with insight I cannot find within the faith.

    In this post, though, I feel you are making a fundamental mistake. You ask, “where is the church where people say, ‘I’m not sure. Let’s figure it out together!'” There are churches with people like that everywhere, but there is no church where everyone is like that. A church that does not claim to have some inside track to the truth has no reason to exist as a church; it is simply a collection of fellow travelers. Fellow travelers are fun for an occasional evening, but they won’t erect buildings, meet regularly, start charitable organizations, or build hospitals. Only people with something a little stronger in common tend to do such things.

    You make being an agnostic seem like fun. I’ve tried it briefly myself, but it’s too terrifying for me. Life is a one-time deal, and by the end of it some decisions have to be made about what it all means and where it all should go. No matter what one decides, doubts linger, and often it is the most insecure of us that shout the sorts of things that you lament in your post. Either that, or they are demagogues, and in either case, it truly is sad.

    Yet, to expect a church as a complete collection of people to be happily agnostic and “searching” for the long run is unrealistic. It isn’t that believers all know things beyond a shadow of a doubt; in fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s the uncertainty that people have that requires them to join a church, and certainty is what they’re looking for.

    All you can hope for as an agnostic is to find out enough to make a decision on incomplete data. The creation we live in does not afford us with certainty on spiritual matters, and “progress,” unlike scientific progress, is glacially slow, with fits and starts and backward tumbles. So, by all means keep searching, but realize that once you’ve reached a point (which I hope you do) that you’ve found the truth, expect to join an imperfect human organization of like minded believers who are clinging to certainty and strengthening their convictions. This is the only way that faith ever produces anything decent at all.

  6. 6 dean July 25, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    RE: Uncertainty seems to lead to more spirituality and connection with God. But where is the church where people say, “I’m not sure. Let’s figure it out together!” ?

    People that think they know all the answers have put God in a box. If you can put God in a box, he is no longer God. If God could be put in a box, then there would be no reason for faith.

    Jesus taught us to love our neighbor – and just to clarify, it looks like he was talking about Buddhists too. (Luke 10:30-37)

    I think we should follow Paul’s example more often. Look for the good in people, and tell them your side of the story in love. (Acts 17:16-32)


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