I had an interesting encounter yesterday. I was sitting in a Biggby, as I do pretty much daily, and I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a few years. He is a Ukrainian Orthodox Christian. He is a good person and very enthusiastic about many Christian issues: pro-life, pro traditional marriage, anti-syncretism, etc. I sat and listened to him for probably longer than I should have. Of course, he invited me to his church, the local Russian one. It was all very nice.
And I couldn’t get away from him quickly enough. I wanted to slough off his energy as quickly as possible. What I respect about him is his desire for integrity; he truly tries to live his values. What I have a problem with is his lack of self-awareness. I sat there quietly, saying only a few things. He thought my insights were powerful. What he didn’t get was that my insights have come about from separating myself from Christian culture in general. Many, if not most, of the social issues he talked about, I oppose him totally on, but did not let on to my position. What point would there have been?
One thing I told him was:
When Christianity is the state religion, it survives.
When Christianity is persecuted, it thrives.
When Christianity is forced to compete, it dies.
He even wrote it down, seemingly oblivious to my blatant statement that Christianity is incapable of competing on a level playing field with other spiritualities. He clearly feels that there should be no competition and that Christianity should be enforced nationally, even as he decried the open hypocrisy in churches he’s seen. What can I say to someone that just listened to what I said and yet managed to miss the point entirely?
It was just another example of a huge spiritual disconnect. I speak and people hear what they want to hear. I would have felt more real had he inquired about my statement, as in, “What do you mean that Christianity dies when there is competition? Are you saying it is irrational?”
I’ve been having these encounters with Christians lately. It was reminiscent of when the priest gave a sermon about abortion a few months ago—to a congregation full of senior citizens! Most of the women there probably have not had a menstrual cycle since Reagan was president. Then there was the congregation trying to sell baklava to the poor to fix the parking lot; meanwhile, the local economy was collapsing! To say these encounters were weird would be a major understatement.
My encounters with Christians—even the most sincere and wonderful among them—seem to have a rather surreal quality about them. I find myself shaking (or scratching) my head or just simply saying, “Huh? What? Did that person really just say that? Are they kidding?”
I may just as well have said, “Blah, blah, blah.” Can no one see my lips moving?