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Progressive Christianity and Comics

Progressive Christianity and Comics published on 15 Comments on Progressive Christianity and Comics

This post kind of metastasized. I’m frustrated about the lack of other progressive Christians in comics which lead me to ask: what the hell do I believe, anyway?

1.) I believe in a single God, composed of three persons. I just totally mangled the idea of the Trinity, which I completely do not understand, but I want to convey that I believe in it. After decades of wrestling with doubt about things that don’t really make much difference in real life, I’ve decided that I’m just going to believe all the standard Christian Supernatural stuff unless there’s a compelling scientific, political or moral reason to question it.

2.) I believe that God became a human being, in order to help us. He taught some very important things, and was executed for being a political agitator. He rose from the dead, like, 48 hours later. Tradition is 3 days, but that seems to mean “over the course of three days”, since he went down Friday Night and was back up by Sunday Morning.

I’ve had weekends like that.

3.) I believe that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection helps humans be closer to God. There are lots of theories about how this works. Some I hate — like, all forms of substitutionary atonement, especially penal substitution. Some, like moral influence theory, I like a bit better. I certainly couldn’t tell you which, if any of them, was actually true.

4.) I don’t really care about the afterlife. Getting to go to Heaven when you die seems to be the main point for most Christians. Myself, I find the idea of dying and waking up in another universe where stuff like this goes on utterly pants shittingly terrifying and I’d rather do anything else. Except go to Hell, which I imagine must be even worse.

Conversely, while I have what I consider an ordinate and rational fear of dying (which sounds scary and painful), the prospect of simply not existing any more doesn’t sound so bad. It’s not like I’m going to miss me when I’m gone.

And, of course, I would never dream of telling anybody what’s going to happen to them in the afterlife. You can’t know that stuff.

5.) I do, however, deeply crave the presence of God. Like, agonizingly. And I’m learning to listen for it, too. A couple of times I’ve had the presence of something vast and loving and definitely not me enter my head from outside, with lasting, even lifelong, repercussions. A lot of times I feel things that might be God, and might be my own intuition. It’s really hard to tell, and frankly I think I’m crazy, but my therapist and psychiatrist refuse to diagnose me as schizophrenic, so there you go.

I mean, perspective, too. If we take Philip K. Dick’s VALIS incident as, say, a 10, my strongest experience was maybe a 1. Certainly I’ve never written a word of Koine Greek. I can barely write English. But it’s still the kind of thing where I’d have to be really dismissive of some pretty profound experiences if I wanted to not believe in God.

6.) I believe the fundamental law of life and human behavior is compassion. I favor anything that promotes compassion, and oppose anything that promotes callousness and selfishness. I do consider the teachings of Christ especially, but not uniquely, effective in learning to live compassionately.

That’s it, I think. I might write more about how that relates to my art later, but maybe not. Words (at least the ones written outside of dialogue bubbles) are hard.

15 Comments

Well, I used to believe that stuff before – because I was programmed to believe that from childhood.

But then I made the “mistake” ;) made by i.e. Matt Dillahunty and started to study this stuff more carefully to reinforce my belief and have arguments against unbelievers.

In the end I would have to choose between Christianity and honesty/personal integrity.

The Bible is quite obviously a collection of man-made stories. Internally inconsistent, full of vile, despicable things promoted as “the will of god”. Attempting to kill a child because voices in your head demand it? Anyone who would – upon hearing “god’s voice” – try to do what Abraham tried to do should be committed to a mental institution immediately! Fortunately most people who say they are Christians upon hearing such voice would say “fuck you!” to it ;)

Generally the stories of the Old Testament were discredited on so many levels it starts to tire me to reiterate them…

New Testament – that one we actually how and when it was finally written. By a committee. Based on anonymous stories written many decades after the supposed events. Jesus himself doesn’t appear in any historical document besides two short mentions by Roman historians based on second-hand stories told a generation later.

So the book goes out of the window as the source of truth – unless you want to study it as an anthropologist analyzing ancient barbaric tribes and their traditions.

I consider the idea of god or gods as a placeholder for things we don’t know but are to lazy/stupid/impatient to study rationally. All religion is quire obviously that – and a leash to control the population.

If anything exists “beyond” the observable universe – we should try to study it rationally and NOT rely on hearsay, legends etc authored by people who had no idea how vast Earth itself is and how many species there are (and that a single breeding pair is not enough to sustain species).

And another clue: why it is always forbidden to test/question god? Why credulity is praised and skepticism condemned? Doesn’t that sound like something a con-men would try? Ever read the story of the Emperor’s new clothes? ;)

Any feelings, yearnings etc. are probably just that – nothing more. An omnipotent being should be able to manifest more reliably. Especially to an atheist who would not freak out in holy ecstasy ;)

It seems that all gods are like fairies in Peter Pan – if you don’t believe in them, they die and fade away. Chariots of iron are also a good defense against an OMNIPOTENT being.

Faith is overrated and in general – harmful. And so is obligatory love. How sado-masochistic is the idea that you HAVE to love someone or face eternal torture? And the bug guy didn’t even introduce himself or buy me a dinner! ;)

Anyway I recommend debates with Christopher Hitchens and the call-in show “The Atheist Experience”. Humanity needs more rational people. And if there’s a being deserving the name of god… well, you won’t find it by rejecting your own rational mind and relying on stories made up by people who didn’t know how rainbow works or what a volcano is.

Thank you, random stranger from the internet, for telling me how wrong I am. I am thoroughly chastened.

Chastising was not my intention. What a knee-jerk reaction… It was just my comment on your reflections that in many way resemble my old ones. I only wanted to provide a different perspective to consider and… well, “compare notes”. Was anything I wrote incorrect? Or did you just go into “lalalala – I can’t hear you!” mode? That would be… sad.

It was a knee-jerk reaction I considered all day. :D

Ugh, I can’t decide if you’re a troll or not, but: You know I’m not a fundamentalist or a conservative evangelical, right? Most of what you wrote takes that as normative for Christianity, and doesn’t engage with what I actually wrote at all. >.< It's really annoying to me when people do that.

Author of this post, I do not judge you in any way, but I feel the need to inform you that you lack understanding of Christianity.
Your understanding of the trinity is correct as it’s not something we can understand while alive, just something we can accept, but that’s not why I’m here.
I’m here because the most important and fundamental point of Christianity is the part where Jesus Christ comes into this world for the purpose of dying with our sins on Him and allowing us to be with God once again. Jewish tradition at the time meant that only once a year could a single person could enter God’s presence in the furthermost room at the back of the Tabernacle, and that person was the high priest. This was because we humans were separated from God by sin in Genesis. We gained knowledge of good and evil and the whole of humanity was doomed at that moment.

We call Jesus our saviour because He literally saved us from sin. That’s not to say Christians do not sin, but rather that we should try not to as we have a closer and personal relationship with Jesus. Our God is not a distant one, but one that loves us and wants to know us well interact with us in our daily lives. John 3:16 ain’t about just believing that Jesus existed, but about believing what he did and why.

There are many religions and people from each claim to know God, but just as one cannot say both 6+4 and 8+7 are 10, religions with conflicting details cannot all serve the same God. Only one of them will be right, and as you grow closer to God, you too will find the proof you’re looking for and understand these fundamental things. The Bible is the inspired word of God, and if we pick and choose parts of it to believe, we’re essentially creating our own religion.

Peace

Yay! More people from the Internet to tell me I’m wrong!

Except wait. How does that contradict anything I wrote. WTF? Did you even read my post, or did you just see the word “Progressive” and go to town?

You should check out the atheist post above. You two will be best friends.

Saddened:

You seem very sure that YOU know which particular flavor of Christianity is absolutely correct. Can you really be sure? Couldn’t all of us just be a little tone deaf in different ways? Are we supposed to be perfect? I’m not sure I could believe ALL of the bible without somehow acquiring multiple personality disorder. Or at least, in the couple of translations into English I’ve seen, it seemed to conflict with itself a little here and there. Not that I’ve read it extensively, since I’m not a Christian, despite growing up in a culture that is more or less Christian. I’ve read it enough to know that I prefer the King James and the New English Bible to other versions I’ve run into. But I’m only judging by the beauty of the language.
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Andrew:

Do you really believe that you’re completely rational? I know I’m not, though I try to be. Most of the time. I find it implausible that anyone meets this standard.

Do you mean to paint ALL religion with the same broad brush? I really can’t believe that all religion is a leash. I CAN believe that much of it has been co-opted or corrupted. I can also believe that much of religion stems from profound experiences that might easily be interpreted as religious messages. I have had one or two of those, though I have no idea who or what to “blame” for them. I don’t really see a need to attribute such things to a deity, but I can certainly understand if someone did.

BTW, I’ve read some Christopher Hitchins. While I find some of what he writes interesting, and perhaps even correct, I don’t think I’d ever want to meet him. (Yes, I know he’s dead, but if we’re both wrong about atheism…) In general, I have bad reactions to proselytizing. It seems to me that militant atheism is almost a contradiction. Removing the stigma that gets attached to atheism would be nice, though. Plenty of other beliefs still have even more stigma attached, of course.

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Mister Wolf:

I can’t agree with you on matters of religion, but I can respect you for showing restraint in the face of provocation. And for generally being fairly rational. Which is as much as I can reasonably expect from myself. On a good day, anyway.

Looking forward to the next installment.

Thanks. I somewhat regret posting this — people seem to think of religion as a zero-sum game, where if my beliefs are true, yours can’t be. I think I reject that. I see different beliefs as just different ways of viewing the world. I wish people would approach religious and philosophical beliefs more as “this is what inspires me”, rather than “this is the absolute truth and everybody else better get in line”.

Im sorry you can’t seem to find someone to have deep philosophical discusions with on here. But if it makes you feel any better, while I dont know if your enitrely correct (much like you said so yourself.) I too struggle with some of these thoughts and beliefs, I worry that God or even Jesus might be talking to me right now. But that I might be too deaf to hear them. I like your message and think its exceptionally thought provoking. I hope you manage to find some one educated enough to indulge yourself with a spirited and open conversation about the subject.

I’m a transgender cartoonist who has returned to Christianity after decades away. While my strip does have moments of addressing faith (and interfaith) issues, it deals with other issues as well. But, we should talk or email or, y’know. Sumthin’.

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