Pandora really pisses me off sometimes.
I started building a new radio station to listen to at work based on one of my favorite bands, Breaking Benjamin. I’ve been in a bit of a melancholy mood for a while now so it fit to create a station around them. (For those that don’t know, the lead singer of Breaking Benjamin has been pretty public about his personal issues with anxiety and phobias, and to me you can feel that in his music. You can also feel the strength he uses to fight those illnesses, and that is what appeals right now. Times are tough, and we can be upset, but we also have strength in spades to get through).
So everything is going pretty well, and of course, as Pandora is designed to do, new music pops up. And it’s from the band Skillet. This is a band I wrote about awhile back. They are Christian, and don’t shy away from speaking about that. In fact, the reason they are still together is because one of their pastors counseled them to keep pushing forward and continue to speak about the “Glory of God”. In other words, keep that recruiting up! We need the revenue! (Yes, I’m aware my bias is showing here).
So that song got the Pandora thumbs down.
Then Ashes Remain came on. Again, another Christian Rock band. I looked them up, and they are too much like Skillet for my tastes. So another thumbs down logged. After the third Christian band popped up, I just decided to start looking up a list of “Christian” rock bands. I found out there are quite a few. The Color Morale, Red, Beartooth, Thousand Foot Krutch and many others I listen to identify as Christian. And that really bothers me.
So my choices now were that I’m going to have to either keep logging thumbs down on songs a lot more than I thought, or I’m just going to have to accept that there are a lot of Christian bands out there and pick and choose what I like. And if I just listen to them anyway, I get to do this despite the fact that I feel like most of these bands are out there specifically to recruit people to a religion broken by the people who identify with it.
Believe it or not, this is a pretty hard decision for me. I’ve done my best to steer clear of Christianity for many years. Christians can go live over there, and I’m here in my own belief system that suits me just fine. And occasionally, on my own terms, I’ll seek out those that I know don’t ‘recruit’ and see what they have to say. Speak to me about learning to become a better person, helping the planet or helping others gain their basic human rights and we will have things in common. Talk to me about how my religion is somehow wrong or beneath yours, and the conversation will very quickly be over.
However, times are changing, and perhaps the mix that Pandora chose for me is just a catalyst for the realization that I have more lessons to learn. Sooner or later, I’m going to have to accept that those of the Christian faith who look at me differently are integrated around me more than I feel comfortable about. Right now I just keep that out of my mind. However, perhaps that habit is a negative response, especially because of the amount of anger that comes up when I think about it. And sooner or later, I’m going to have to deal with that anger; the real reason my bias exists.
So here is the crux of the matter: I have more issues with the Christian religion than I thought. And now, I’m going to have to get off my gluteus maximus and figure out what those issues are and deal with them.
I talked about the fear of God syndrome once before. And I thought that once I wrote that post, that I had dealt with my issues regarding Christianity, and that was that. I thought I was doing a good job separating the religion from the people. Because honestly, the religion itself isn’t THAT bad. Love one another. Judge not lest ye be judged. Be still and know that I am God. Let him without sin cast the first stone. All of these things have profound meanings. And they are meanings that transcend the Christian religion. To me, it’s the PEOPLE who claim to be Christian that cause 90% of the problems with that religion, maybe even more.
I don’t need to go far to come up with excellent examples. Look at those who are against abortion. Sure, they are pro-life while the child is in the womb, but the minute the child is born there will be very little support it if the child was born outside of a strong family unit. Look at the prosperity gospel and how many people who have given up their entire life savings hoping for a miracle. Finally, and what angers me the most, is the issues in the current situation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard ‘Christians’, in the current political climate argue against verses from the book that they claim to follow. “Oh, that verse is just hyperbole. Verses like that are throughout the entire bible.” Or, “Sure, it says turn the other cheek, but at the same time, Jesus wouldn’t want me to stand by and watch as my family gets robbed and killed.” Plainly put, these people will twist things to match what they want to believe, and they don’t give a shit about the true meaning of that religious text.
Perhaps I’m tired of seeing how people twist religion to make it fit what it is they want to do. It’s the same with the racism in Heathenism. There are interpretations of many religions that inflict more harm than they do good, and when that happens, there is something seriously wrong with the people that profess to be following that religion. Perhaps it wasn’t the case in older times, but in the current age I firmly believe that religion is meant to help us understand the world around us and how we fit in with that world. I firmly believe that the times where religion divided us should be over. We have evolved further than that.
But unfortunately, power over people is still something that is strived for by many. And religion is a tool that has been used for thousands of years to do just that; get power over people. And for the most part, people are programmed to accept that when it comes to religion, you are expected to relinquish your power to get anywhere. And thus you have the strife and conflict that we see today. And that leads me back to my current dilemma.
But at least now I can speak to the issue more clearly.
I am pretty damn angry at people within the Christian churches. I’m angry at how they failed me in my upbringing, how they didn’t answer my questions and how they forced me to follow along in a religion even though I felt so very different in my soul. I’m angry at the strife they caused me and so many other people like me that felt different. I’m angry that they made us feel like outsiders unless we conformed. I’m very angry they caused us to be afraid of the very Gods that were there to help us the entire time. And I am mad as hell that I have to deal with all of the leftovers of this upbringing. I get to deal with all of the confusion and pain as to why I can’t understand or fit with the people who call themselves Christian. I get to deal with them time and time again telling me that I still am wrong and that I need to ‘get with the program’ in order to save my soul. I get to deal with the embedded ‘fear of God’s wrath’ if I dare try to be myself. I get to deal with how I felt back then because I dared ask questions that people couldn’t answer. And last but not least, I get to learn over and over again how to be a survivor in a country that claims to be Christian, yet refuses to treat people the way their own Jesus said to.
And I’m allowed to be mad. I’m allowed to be mad as hell. I’m allowed to be so mad that I can spit nails anytime anyone asks me if “I’ve found Jesus” yet. Yeah, I found him, and he’s over in the Middle East doing what he can for the refugees that are dying. And now that you mention it, I saw him the other day in your church, bent over the altar weeping at those using his house for their own personal gain.
Obviously I’m showing my anger. I’m trying to get it out; to get a name to it. I need to identify and deal with it. I need to deal with it because of people like John Pavlovitz, Rob Bell, Michael Beckwith, Revered Ed Bacon and many others. Although these people are only a few of the vast number of Christians out there, they believe differently. They believe like me; that God is large enough to be involved in many different religions. They believe we are stronger if we support and take care of each other, no matter what religion you profess. And their beliefs contain the possibilities of what Christianity could become. So there is hope. Further, and thanks to the current political climate, I’m reminded that I, someone who is in a religion in the minority, needs to learn to work with others who are in the minority. Get enough of us together and we will become the majority, forcing change throughout the country.
Even if it is for that last reason alone, I need to deal with this anger.
I’m not sure where this thinking is going to lead me. I hope it’s someplace positive. I don’t want to dismiss good people trying to do what is right. And I know the people I mentioned above are trying to do just that. But the tenant of my faith says that I must work on myself; that I must overcome my own shortcomings and strive to be a better person. This is what it means to me when I say I stand with my Gods.
So I guess because of my faith, my religion, I need to figure out a way to be more accepting to those that truly profess theirs. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to feel bad for not listening to Skillet and bands like them that profess the current status quo of this currently broken religion.
Photo from Deviant Art