Friday, August 27, 2010

Mutant Christianity, a disagreement.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.
She says this "imposter'' faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.
Apparently more and more Christian teens are treating Christianity like a self-help sort of deistic sort of God is out there to help you with your struggles kind of faith. This is making them abandon religion at an alarming rate. Because, everybody knows that the real faith is that Jesus demands that you act like his slave and do exactly what he says or you will burn forever in loving hellfire. This impure form of Christianity is the reason why teenagers abandon religion in droves. -- I disagree.

I think the fact that Christianity is able to morph into an amorphous blob of God is Love, is one of the few reasons why it's at all surviving. It really has become like a software license and "Christians" scroll to the end and click "I agree". While this results in the nominally faithful, who are happy to invoke paroxysmal reactions to atheism and pay lip service to the idea of Christianity, and lends a certain amount of credit to Christianity for having followers, in the same way that Microsoft tries to measure the using of Internet Explorer™ by the number of times it's installed (it's installed on my system, but I never use it), rather than the browser based traffic. It's a bit like when religions leave people on the rolls even though they quit a long time back. But, it gives a very general idea that paying lipservice to religious ideas of a virtue.

That this is done, is the reason why Christians are still "Christians". It isn't that this is the reason why they lose their faith, but rather a stop gap measure used to prevent them from losing their faith. If all the wishy washy nonsense was dropped from religion and they were only permitted to state their beliefs, everybody would walk away in droves.

The study, which included in-depth interviews with at least 3,300 American teenagers between 13 and 17, found that most American teens who called themselves Christian were indifferent and inarticulate about their faith.

You'd be amazed how many "Christians" cannot name any five books of the Bible. It seems a lot like all one needs is a bit of momentum and a change in the cultural zeitgeist that promotes Christian ethos as positive ethos. If not for all the wishy-washy self-help god-is-love crap, it would seem as wounded as it is.

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."

Yeah, God is like a cheerleader who wants you to be happy. Why focus on hellfire and the fact that you are to give away all your things and go out and preach the word to the unconverted. Although, really it seems this study would argue that you really need to preach the word to the converted, because apparently they are doing it wrong.

Others practice a "gospel of niceness," where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and don't rock the boat. In reality, if you're trying to get by in life. Those are great bits of advice. And while I'm certainly in favor of the former as a pretty universal moralistic approximation of Tit-For-Tat, I'm not sure the latter is called for if you think the boat is heading towards some rocks, you should rock it. You really should go ahead and stand up for your beliefs and be firm and articulate. Sure it makes you seem arrogant or strident, but if you're right, then you're already a majority of one. And, this is the sense that Christians are right when they accuse atheists of being like evangelicals. Sure, we atheists don't evangelize but we do not subscribe to the doctrine of be niceness where nice is defined as 'shut the hell up'. Atheists, like Evangelicals, talk about religion. That's all they really mean about it.

More teens may be drifting away from conventional Christianity. But their desire to help others has not diminished, another author says.

Duh, because Christianity has nothing in the way of motivation towards charity. It's simply hijacked charity. People have charity, and to claim that Christians have some sort of monopoly will end up causing you to be surprised when atheists are moral or when people still are charitable.

A parent's radical act of faith could involve something as simple as spending a summer in Bolivia working on an agricultural renewal project or turning down a more lucrative job offer to stay at a struggling church, Dean says.

As a potential stop gap, the study author argues that parents can make some dramatic appeal, some grand gesture to bring their children back into the fold. And while turning down a job  and spending a summer abroad may seem a little weaksauce and fail to convey the message needed. After all charity isn't diminished, what has gone away is the theological underpinnings that God did not come to bring peace but a sword and that anybody who is not ready to hate their family, isn't ready to be Jesus' disciple. What's really needed is something that shows commitment to Christianity without being charitable in the mainstream sense, I highly recommend murdering abortion doctors accordingly. Now that's radical, and your kids won't see God as some vague cheerleader in the sky after that.

"If you don't say you're doing it because of your faith, kids are going to say my parents are really nice people," Dean says. "It doesn't register that faith is supposed to make you live differently unless parents help their kids connect the dots."

If you don't tell your children that you're being nice because of religion, then your kids will just think you're being nice. They don't realize that religion makes you live differently, unless you're living exactly the same as other people but giving credit to religion. WTF? Seriously? Unless you tell your children that religion made me do this, they might credit it to something more obvious and mundane and true. Unless you show children that charity must be hijacked, and that secular values of love towards your fellow humans are to be relabeled as Christian Love™, then they won't understand that the exact same actions taken by others for the sake of being reasonable people  are not different. That's not a deep and life altering faith, that's the relabeling of generic humanistic values as religious values.

Don't be nice as you're apt to do even without orthodox faith, be nice and say it's Christian niceness!

Thank goodness that no other religions thank goodness, or that might undermine Christianity. After all, non-Christians eat babies.


Thesauros said...

"You'd be amazed how many "Christians" cannot name any five books of the Bible."

Sounds like you know the number. How many would that be? Or what percentage would that be?

Tatarize said...

I don't have the number. I just have anecdotal evidence of asking a few and being amazed at the level of failure. 3 failures and 2 successes does not a real sample make. Expecially because there could be some self-selected nature to it. I did ask Christians that I, as an atheist, knew. And did so all in California.

So no, I don't really have a number.

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