Repost from the old site.
Kind of a long story, but I was associating with a lot of radical Arabs, mostly Palestinians. They all had a religion, even though a lot of them were Leftists. I thought that was really interesting. It was religion as identity. I got really interested in the Arab Christians. They seemed to take all of the good out of Christianity and none of the bad.
Like Catholics, they never talked religion, but they did believe. It seemed like more of an identity thing than anything else. Everyone was either a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, or a Yezidi, a Druze, an Alawite, or some kind of religion. Everyone had a religion! I thought that was actually kind of cool. Religion as identity – like ethnicity.
I did see Gibson’s movie and read a book called The Case For Jesus which offers an empirical basis for the New Testament. But I was heading there anyway. But what difference does it really make, in any important way, if I believe? Or if I don’t believe? What are the real, hard and fast consequences? None? I’m still going to die. My life won’t change one iota. So why just say the Hell with it and be a believer?
Atheism is crap. It offers me nothing at all. I don’t care how scientific it is. I die and rot in the fucking ground. There are no morals. There is no right and wrong. There is no afterlife and no soul. Who cares if that’s the truth? I don’t want any part of it. If there’s even a 1% chance Christianity is true, I’m in like Flynn.
Christianity is good because it teaches us to be good people. Too many people I meet, Whites and non-Whites, Christians and not, are just not good people. They are mean, nasty, snake-like, vicious people. They’re rude and stupid and have no manners. They use others and have no sense of give and take. They’re manipulative, animalistic shits.
Starting in 2001, I went to the Usenet groups because I got into the Middle East. It was my first real exposure to the region and its problems in depth, and it showed me for the first time about my Christian values. At the time, I was an agnostic, having left Christianity a long time ago. But I learned that I still had Christian values even though I left the Church 20 years before.
In the ME groups, we debated Jews. These Jews had values alien to me. You were with them or against them. You were either a Judeophile or you were with those guys who threw them in the ovens. Black and white.
I was raised in a Christian culture that told me to love my enemies and try to find common ground with those I disagreed with. It taught me that we all sin, so I’m not so special, and the bad guys aren’t as bad as I think they are. Christianity is its own kind of moral relativism.
So I didn’t hate these Jewish Zionists. I don’t care how much they love their shitty little country. We’re all fucked up in one way or another. But they hated me. I mean they hated me. I could never get beyond that. It wasn’t a Christian way of thinking.
We were also taught to have gentlemanly debates and to fight fair. You didn’t bite, scratch or pull hair, and when you played “Smear the Queer” you were supposed to go light on the target, not too hard. There were rules about debating, arguing, even play-fighting.
These Jews just seemed to throw out all the rules. That was alien to my Christian values. Now, lots of Christians don’t have these kind of values, but you’re supposed to.
There was also sort of a “fair play in business” thing I was raised with. Not because it was right, but because it fostered a harmonious community.
Another one was controlling your emotions in debate. Don’t raise your voice, don’t get irritated, don’t get angry, control your emotions. Be a gentleman. I don’t know if that’s Christian? I was raised with that. That’s just civilized to me, but to me it seemed Christian. Maybe it was just White middle class.
You give and take in relationships. You don’t blatantly and grotesquely use other people. You don’t steal. You don’t demand things. When you go visit someone, you ask permission for everything. You don’t walk in the door and start demanding stuff. You don’t turn the channel on the TV or radio. Whatever is on is on. It’s their house, dammit.
You address people as “sir” and say “pardon me.” You repay all debts and even offer to pay interest. To not repay is a shame upon myself, and it degrades me. It taints my soul. You vote in elections. It’s your civic duty, and it’s the right thing to do. You work or go to school if you are able to. You don’t leech off others. You pay your workers. You don’t shaft people or rip them off.
You don’t try to sell people your stuff all the time without offering to buy some of their stuff too – this means you are just trying to get money out of them. When you pay a visit to a potential client, you buy a little something in his store, even if you don’t need it.
You don’t demand or even ask to use other people’s stuff. You don’t demand rides all the time. You apologize when you offend people or make them mad.
It took me a long time to figure out why I wasn’t acting like an asshole or an animal like so many of those around me. I knew I had values, but where were they? Where did they come from? I finally figured out that even though I had left Christianity long ago, my values were Christian values. That many were abandoning them meant that our culture was abandoning basic Christian values.
This made me realize the positive aspect of Christianity. It tries to force people to quit acting like animals and start acting like humans. It forces you to be good even when you don’t want to. It’s hard to be a good Christian. A lot of people just want to be assholes. Our capitalist society tells us to be as big of assholes as we can be. Christianity is very demanding, and many just can’t hack it. But that’s what is good about it.