[personal profile] tlvop
I went to a fisher church group tonight. I left finding myself...strangely angry and upset. I found no fault with the logic they used, and I learned from their sermon...but. But.

A fisher church is a church that "fishes" very purposefully. They tame and snip and set things behind lotteries and funny skits that have nothing to do with the subject and fortyfive minutes of entertainment before they even mention the name of God. The basic idea is that if you don't scare off the non-Christians maybe you can "lure" them into the kingdom of Christianity.

Excuse me? My God is terrifying. I believe in a Lord who spoke the world into being, who commands light and dark and molds the earth with his hands. I believe in a God whose very thoughts are vaster than I can ever image, even if I try for all my life I can not wrap my mind fully around a single one. I believe in a Lord whose idea of <i>love</i> scares me almost as His idea of <i>justice</i> because both of them are so far beyond what I can even bear.

I believe in a God who drives me to tears because of His sheer being, who lifts me up with a gentle breath and a word when I am stumbling from lack of sleep or lack of skill or lack of peace. I believe in a God who remembers I am dust, and leads me with a loving hand.

I believe in a God who knows me, who really <i>knows me</i>, better than I could ever hope to know myself, and for some reason still loves me enough to die even though I am not a holy person, or even a good one in my innermost heart. I believe in a God who cried with His heart "Why will you die? Repent, and live!" (paraphrase Ezekiel 18, near the end) because He was torn by His children running themselves into the rocks when He was there to rescue them.

I believe in a God who saw me powerless and awash in weakness and took mercy. I believe in a God who crafted the galaxies in their jewelled beauty and the physical laws that keep them in their heavenly dance, who thought up atoms and molecules and even organic chemistry and saw that it was good, who thought up crazy creatures like the platypus just to make us scratch our heads and maybe laugh if we saw the joke.

I believe in a personal God, who is unknowable but always seeks to make Himself known.

My God is terrifying. No matter how much pop culture you hide Him behind, you won't--you can't--change that.

on 2008-04-02 07:02 am (UTC)
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (fields of golden light)
Posted by [personal profile] genarti
I tend to believe that whatever your religion may be, it is, or should be, something you study at length and choose while knowing what you're choosing. Whether it's the religion you grew up in or something you converted to.

There's lots of room for interpretation and presentation and doctrinal differences. But sugar-coating deliberately, for the sake of getting more converts -- that does the religion a deep disservice. What use is a conversion if it's not done in true acceptance of the faith? Not that there's a monolithic "the faith" in any religion, but whatever your beliefs might be, you're not converting someone to agree with you if you skip over all the parts they might disagree with.

I'm not much of a fan of fisher churches, either.

What you say here of what you do believe, though, is really beautifully put.

on 2008-04-02 04:07 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dictator-duck.livejournal.com
I definitely agree re: study, and learnings. There is a reason we have brains! To use them!

*snuggles* Thx, and to class with a TL

on 2008-04-02 07:43 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mercuriazs.livejournal.com
Oh wow. Word.

I mean. I agree with this so much-- it's interesting, because I was a little like, "Oh TL, dust? Really? And what do you mean you're not a good person?" But then I thought about it and I don't really think I'm a good person. Maybe I could call myself decent. But to be good in the ways that really matter ... is something I think I am always working towards.

That may or may not have been what you meant. But it did get me thinking.

I've been a terrible Catholic lately for various reasons, but this still resonates with me a lot. Just. Yeah.

... Also?

There has got to be a way to teach religion without dumbing it down. Come on, people. I've experienced things that you're talking about with these "fishers" in a Catholic context (usually the catechism of teens and children), and it's always pretty eyeroll-inducing to see the superficial way that parents are satisfied to teach their children about the faith tradition they come from.

on 2008-04-02 08:18 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dictator-duck.livejournal.com
I think we're agreeing on the definition of a good person, :). *snuggles* It's a growing thing, it's a maturing thing, and imo it's a growing towards God thing. Both of those phrases come from verses I was too lazy to look up the exact bits of to cite, but here they are because Biblegateway.com is my hero:

Psalm 103: 13, 14 (NIV)
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

This is one of my favorite verses, actually, because to me it speaks less of how weak I am (I know that) but how understanding God is of my weakness. It is built into me, and he has compassion for my shortcomings.

Rom 5:6,7 (NIV)
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.

And this one was just on my mind because I'm reading Romans for quiet time. :)

I'm not too familiar with Catholic traditions/beliefs. Are catchetisms like the Nicean creed, etc.? (and, lovely. You're not a "terrible Catholic" because that presupposes there's such a thing as a "good Catholic". It's Paul, isn't it, who called himself the worst of all sinners? And he's Paul. And even Peter gave into peer pressure. Like, a lot.)

on 2008-04-02 04:07 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dictator-duck.livejournal.com
as in, a growing towards being good thing. *clarifies at* I descripted a little more at Merc, downpage

on 2008-04-02 08:19 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dictator-duck.livejournal.com
and honestly I am going to bed

on 2008-04-02 12:18 pm (UTC)
ext_27713: An apple with a heart-shape cut into it (all smiles)
Posted by [identity profile] lienne.livejournal.com
Y'know what?

I hate to say it, but: could be worse. Could be tons worse.

'Cause when I was a wee tot... there was a guy in my first-grade class who thought it was a brilliant idea to try to convert me to I-forget-what, presumably some branch or other of Christianity, by informing me in gleefully sadistic first-grader detail of exactly why and how and in what luridly unpleasant ways I would burn in Hell forever if I didn't believe in God.

Thanks, kid. *sigh*

This probably explains a lot of my automatic "back away slowly" reaction to anything with strong religious overtones.

And I have something to say about being a good person.

I'm a good person. So are you, I'm pretty sure.

I mess up. People do that. But when I mess up, I look at it and figure out exactly how and why I messed up, and I do my damnedest not to do it again. That's what being a good person is. You don't have to be perfect. You just have to be better-- than you were yesterday, or than you were a year ago, or than you were the last time you did something wrong, whenever that was. As long as you're pointed in the right direction, and it's the direction you want to be pointed in, and you're working to get there? That's goodness, in my book.

I'm betting it counts for something in yours, too, and the thing about your book is that you can look things up in it. :) Mine kinda assembles itself in my head on the fly.

on 2008-04-02 04:05 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dictator-duck.livejournal.com
I'm not sure of the two are worse or even equivalent--apples and oranges, really. One side: misrepresent through emphasizing love to the point that justice has all but been edited out, the other side: emphasizing justice to the point that love has all but been edited out. They both suck.

Re: being a good person. I'm not using the definition most people use, I think. I don't sit and think I'm a bad person? And I am growing. It's a thing where I sin often (with forethought) and it's a thing where I look at myself, at myself that I can see not myself that all of you can see, and am disgusted at my thought proccesses and mechanations and innards, and realize that even now in my learning-state I don't deserve to have anyone die for me, much less when I wallowed in filth and God did.

...my definition for "growing" is close to yours, though, and it's definitely as uplifting and encouraging for me as I think "good" is for most. "Good" is an adjective, a complacent and-it-is-finished. "Growing" is a verb, a well-there's-a-long-way-to-go-but-we're-making-progress. :)

(also, Lienne = Heather = quareverumxi? *doublechecks because is a wee bit unfamiliar with LJnames*)

on 2008-04-02 04:25 pm (UTC)
ext_27713: An apple with a heart-shape cut into it (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] lienne.livejournal.com
Nope, Lienne = Pyth = Pythian Habenero.

Re: good vs. growing: I... swear I had someting to say to this, and then it went away. I'll let you know if it comes back.

The short, vague, half-remembered version: My "good" is a state as well as a process. If you are the kind of person, as a finished, complacent adjective, who fits that definition, then you are good. If you stop doing that, you probably aren't anymore.

on 2008-04-03 12:18 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dictator-duck.livejournal.com

...and I think I get what you mean? OChem lab kileld my brain dead. V. sad

on 2008-04-03 12:22 am (UTC)
ext_27713: An apple with a heart-shape cut into it (glee glee glee)
Posted by [identity profile] lienne.livejournal.com
I'M ON AIM LIKE ALL THE TIME ARE YOU? :P *snugglehugs* Edit: And how have you not friended me yet? XDDD
Edited on 2008-04-03 12:23 am (UTC)

on 2008-04-02 12:34 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] bigfluffball.livejournal.com
This may sound a stupid question, but are you sure you're in the right church?

(Personally, my God comes somewhere between Pop Culture God and Terrifying God. I left my first church after the preacher/vicar started talking about converting the infidel and homosexuality as a disease.)

on 2008-04-02 03:55 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dictator-duck.livejournal.com
I was just checking it out, :). My church is far far less show-y. It has its faults, but excessive masking of its purpose isn't one of them

on 2008-04-02 02:05 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] starpaint.livejournal.com
I tend to agree, but for a wee bit of devil's advocate... if the people there are new converts, then at least part of the logic might just be getting them comfortable with hearing about God (in any context, in any way) inside a church setting, getting them used to the setup of pulpit and congregation, getting them comfortable with the other people there so that they don't rush out when the service ends. Pretty much, it'd give them time to get used to the idea of going to church at all before they started going to a church that was meaningful.

It's all besides the point when you're talking about how they're presenting God, & there's the danger of making the aforementioned newbies comfortable with the light show at God's expense, but it's a thought, anyway.

on 2008-04-02 04:08 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dictator-duck.livejournal.com

on 2008-04-02 08:49 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] starpaint.livejournal.com
ACTING IS AWESOME (especially when people who have skillz do it. You have skillz, so you + acting = glee).

on 2008-04-03 12:17 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dictator-duck.livejournal.com
sadly I meant accounting instead of acting ):
<3333 and now I only stopped back long enough to get food from OChem and I am to English! and then to a ice cream social! Waaah, Paint, my life is waaay too full of things

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