I've been pretty harsh so far about christianity.
I've been honest, with myself, and also wanting to validate the pain and abuse countless millions have suffered at the hands of this religious system for centuries. It completely screwed my own life up, so yeah, there's still some anger there about even the most foundational beliefs, and especially how those beliefs are implemented.
Of course I know all the "correct" theological answers to my own complaints. I could argue against my own arguments quite convincingly!
I blogged recently about Brian McLaren's "levels of faith" and have spent some time looking at my own journey through this. Although I still have a lot of anger towards christianity to work through I am genuinely feeling a great love and patience towards those who fully embrace it's central doctrines.
As I read, meditate, explore and discuss all this stuff I find the paradox gets more extreme - I can completely understand why so many love christianity and find life and peace there, living out a "personal relationship" with God through Jesus (it's what I did for 45 years!) - but I can also see massive failings, delusions and escapism that all religions have at their core.
To even suggest to a passionate christian who has experienced deep intimacy with Christ, that what they believe is just one small subjective experience of an infinitely greater spirituality is nothing short of heresy and blasphemy!
To suggest that the whole concept of the christian god (or any god) is nothing more than a man made religious construct is to invite absolute disdain and contempt at best, and having your name added to a prayer chain at worst.
However, to see each other's spirituality as a completely unique experience, and to honour each others journey, is the best thing we can do. It frees each other to explore and grow.
The other day I was confronted by someone who was posting fundamentalist vitriol about various topics, and displaying the lack of compassion and "christ-likeness", shallow thinking and exclusivism that you'd expect. I found myself in a dilemma. Do I just treat them with forgiving grace and accept that that's just where they are at, or confront them in some way. I chose the latter, and was accused of not extending the love I preach. So there you go!
Still, I had to make the decision that although they were speaking out of ignorance, the things they were saying were destructive and damaging to many on a very personal level, and although there was nothing I could say that would convince them of that, by publicly challenging their views in a way that left no doubt about the damage they cause, I had actually acted in a far greater love than appeasing an individual's emotions.
Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind when he ripped the Pharisees to shreds.
So do I hate christianity? That's still a question I won't directly answer.
I hate religion in all its forms. I hate anything that separates and excludes. I hate anything that even vaguely promotes bigotry. I hate anything that says we are filthy sinners worthy of death who's only hope is the vicarious sacrifice of a man/god.
But I love anything that brings out our inherent beauty. I love anything that unconditionally loves us as we are. I love anything that builds unity. I love anything that speaks life and empowers people to be their unique selves expressed through love.
If christianity can do that, then I'm good to go. If it doesn't, then I'll expose it for the lie that it is. I'm sure I'll keep changing though, I know I am! Even the last few weeks have seen my heart shifting in many ways - letting go of a lot of stuff, seeing the deep levels of abuse that my spirit/heart received and it's effect on my life - allowing myself to feel things I'd always repressed, and also allowing them to be at rest, to be touchstones of empathy.
Living Loved is hard and wonderful, painful and joyful!