Last night, I went to see the movie Lincoln with my best friend, her mom, and her mom’s friend. Afterwards, we went to dinner and discussed the movie, and the book that it as adapted from with another couple.
While the discussion hovered around the Lincoln and his life for some time, it soon bloomed into a discussion Christianity, diversity of beliefs, and the common good.
One woman asked “How can poverty and inequality exist in a Christian country? How and why is Christianity failing?”
And at first, I wasn’t comfortable. My best friend and her family are Christian, and these friends of theirs were obviously Christian as well. That made me, the non-religious (although god-believing) odd-man out. When I realized this, I felt like I lacked authority, or enough knowledge on the subject matter to contribute.
But then one of the men said, “Christianity fails because it is belief-focused, not action-focused.” I was completely floored that a Christian (and a pastor at that!) could be objective enough to see that distinction. That is something that has alienated me from Christianity and other organized religion–a rigid doctrine that breeds prejudice and competition. Everyone is convinced their beliefs are the best and thus something that should bring peace and happiness creates a bloody competition of power. (Hence, the Crusades and just about every war in history.)
But this idea of a action-based Church. I can support that. The pastor guy said, “it’s about putting aside our differences and working towards the common good.” Thus, the church becomes less focused on getting to heaven and more on making our present lives better via community building and organization.
In theory, this idea is great, my only issue with it is that it’s idealistic. How can one convince people of different values to work together under the umbrella of something that (regardless of how little they prostlethize) will always have certain rigid principles it stands for?
We didn’t have a definite answer to that.
But the train of thought leads us here: How do we get everyone to work towards a common good? To feel motivated enough to work to make a difference? To have a passion for citizenship?
We didn’t have a definite answer for that either.
But personally, I don’t think religion is the answer. While I like its ability to bring individuals peace, when spread amongst large groups I think it creates violence and hate. Just look at the Gaza Strip.Or the recent proposition from Texas for succession from the U.S.
What all this made me realize is that we need an all-inclusive issue to bind us all together, something that affects all of us. Maybe it will be the environment? or a nuclear threat?
But I will close by saying this view of the church inspired me and given me hope for humanity. And after the discussion was over, I realized I didn’t feel like the odd-woman out anymore. We all want to do the right thing despite our differing beliefs.