When I come home after working overnight, the last thing I do before I fall asleep is peruse the morning’s news from my iTouch. I usually find at least one or two articles to ‘read later.’ Sometimes I read them, sometimes I don’t. Almost two weeks ago, I came across an article in the Globe and Mail titled “Canada’s literary community gets religion all wrong” by David Adams Richards. It sat in my iTouch browser until today, when I came across another article: “‘God’s verdict’ outranks history’s, PM (Harper) says.” To me, it was a sign that I needed to read the Richards article.
The tagline of the article says it all: “The derision toward anyone who believes is swift and non-negotiable among many writers today.” But I think it’s fair to take Richards’ premise and cut off that last part about writers, because it seems that anyone who believes in the year 2009 is one brick short of a full load.
A couple of months ago, I overheard a conversation between a guy and a girl who were talking about the guy’s new girlfriend. He said he really liked her, but was having trouble dealing with her belief in creationism (the girlfriend was a good Catholic girl). He said he couldn’t understand how someone could still believe in something so archaic; he even wondered if she’d ever actually thought about what she believed in. I was quite alarmed at the guy’s contempt for his girlfriend’s beliefs; he was basically calling them infantile and questioning her critical thinking skills. I really wanted to go find his girlfriend and tell her to RUN.
However, the conversation left me thinking about my own beliefs. I do believe in creationism, however, I don’t think it all happened in a literal seven days, although God could definitely do it. I find it very difficult to believe that we’re all here by chance. Every time I look at a baby, I can’t help but be awed by how we evolve from a tiny, microscopic egg into a fully-developed human within nine months. The intricate systems of the body, from the nervous system to the circulatory system, how our fingers move and our eyes can see – it blows my mind. I can’t see how there CAN’T be some Master Planner out there.
I’ve recently started attending church again after a smattering of attendances over the last couple of years. I wasn’t having a belief crisis; I’ve questioned the Seventh-Day Adventist church’s beliefs many times over the years and have made peace with those things I agree with and those I don’t. Besides, no church is perfect. If it was, what would the purpose of it be?
But I digress.
I am a small ‘l’ liberal (duh). While I hold dear to many of the tenets of liberalism (equality, the rule of law, limit of government power, human rights) I find myself increasingly troubled with liberalism and the idea of religious tolerance. To me it seems that liberals are becoming more INTOLERANT of religion, ridiculing and scoffing at those who would dare to believe.
It’s certainly true that Christianity, and religion in general, hasn’t helped its image. The presidency of George W. Bush highlighted everything bad about organized religion. And while I’m not about to blame GW for Christianity’s problems (goodness knows he’s got a lot of other things to answer for), the ‘religious right’ he was a member of did not help its own cause. The problem with the ‘religious right’ is that its members have forgotten the two most important lessons of the New Testament: tolerance and mercy. How can those on the left see religion as anything BUT bad when the ‘religious right’ is full of hypocrites, racists, homophobics, and misogynists?
Unfortunately, some liberals have exploited the bad behaviour of the religious right and taken the opportunity to promote another kind of intolerance. It’s very difficult (or I least I find it difficult) to find any sort of critique of Christianity that doesn’t basically question its existence. It’s hard to have intelligent conversations about religion with people because to believe is to be naive, ignorant and, well, stupid.
I believe in God, I believe in creation, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in his resurrection and I believe that there is a heaven. But I don’t think I’m stupid.
The problem is that there are lots of people who believe what they believe WITHOUT having thought about it; people who put themselves and their own agendas first instead of their beliefs; people who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk; people who use their religion to justify their own actions; people who take advantage of obscure biblical passages to further their own intolerance.
I am not one of those people. So, my liberal friends, quit making me feel like one.