Nick David Wright

Living well, laughing often, loving much.

Posts Tagged ‘faith

Faith and Fundamentalism

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The early years of my adulthood were consumed by fundamentalist Christianity.

I recently wrote about how I eventually ended up quitting the religion and becoming pagan.

The funny thing was, I spent just as much time arguing with people as a pagan as I had as a Christian. And I had just exactly the same results; nobody listened, it just pissed everyone off. (Debate rule number one: You will never convince someone who doesn’t already want to be convinced.) I had in essence made myself into a pagan fundamentalist.

It took a few years — okay several years — but eventually I realized that it wasn’t the faith that I had a problem with, it was the fundamentalism. In other words, it was the “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude that has infected every religion to one extent or another. You could even argue that this attitude has infected nearly every aspect of life (Ever meet anyone devoted to a particular brand of product? Yes, I’m guilty of that as well … Made on a Mac).

I recently saw the movie “Religulous,” by Bill Maher, and he makes many good points. But I see two problems, both of which are implied by this quote from the movie:

“Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do.” – Bill Maher

The first problem I see is that he is making the same mistake that I did, Maher has become a fundamentalist of his own point of view. He goes to length to explain that his philosophy is of the “I don’t know” variety. But there is apparently one thing that he does know: People of faith are wrong.

Which leads into the second problem, which isn’t a problem with the movie so much as it is with those people of faith. The Bible says in the book of Hebrews that faith is the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for.

But modern people of faith seem to have forgotten this in their rush to declare that they “know.” And just “knowing” a thing isn’t so bad either. The problems begin when a person that “knows” something finds out that other people don’t necessarily “know” the same thing, and in fact some of these other people might even “know” something entirely different.

Faith is really not the problem, what people “know” is.

Bill Maher “knows” that people of faith are wrong and made an entire movie dedicated to proving his point and making those people look like fools. And what are the results? People who agree with Maher will get to sit back and chuckle at the comedian’s cleverness, and people of faith will be insulted and not hear a word of the message that Maher was trying to convey. A message that I believe, despite it’s poor presentation, is very important. A message that I believe Maher himself has missed entirely.

The message being that people should be free to believe whatever they like. And until we all realize this and quit trying to force everyone to believe like we do … we will never have peace.

Written by Nick David Wright

January 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Exclusion

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Christianity today is a religion of exclusion, i.e. what we don’t do, who we exclude.

But reading the words of Christ it seems to me that he intended to create a faith of people who were inclusive. He said “Love one another,” and he lived it while hanging out with the “dregs” of society.

Christ came not to condemn (John 3:17), and yet Sunday after Sunday so-called men of God thunder messages of condemnation from their pulpits.

I think it is very important to note that Christ’s only recorded words of condemnation were aimed squarely at the religious leadership.

How have we as followers of this man fallen so far from the ideals that he taught?

I was impressed by a monologue found at the end of the movie “Chocolat;”

“I think that we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we create and who we include.”

Written by Nick David Wright

January 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

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How fundamentalism sabotaged my life

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I recently picked up the book “I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing,” by Kyria Abrahams, from the library.

It’s a story about a girl growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, later to be “disfellowshipped.” I’m not particularly interested in reading about that group of folks but a snippet from the cover jacket caught my eye …

“… explores the ironic absurdity of growing up believing that nothing matters because everything’s about to be destroyed.”

And that resonated with me, because that’s exactly how I grew up.

I wasn’t taken to particularly extreme churches as a child, but the groundwork was laid. And when I found myself cast out of my mother’s house after turning 18, newly married and out in the real world on my own for the first time in my life, that early conditioning took control.

I never finished high school. I was failed my senior year for handing out “Chick tracts,” and I didn’t go back. College was out of the question because the rapture would happen any minute, why waste time in class when I could be out “winning souls.” Not that — to my knowledge — I ever actually won any souls. Funny how constantly arguing with people about how wrong they are tends to turn them away.

Eventually I realized how insane I was being and quit. Quit everything to do with Christianity. In fact, I declared myself pagan. But by that time the damage was done. I was too busy earning a living to go back to school. I’d found myself a career that I was good at that didn’t require schooling (photojournalism) and I coasted on that for nearly 10 years.

Now here I am 31 years old, working on finishing that high school diploma and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. One thing I will be doing … living.

Written by Nick David Wright

December 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm