Date: November 26, 2017 07:39PM
I hear you, Amyjo, but.
Mockery isn't by definition always absolutely negative is it? You can have gentle mockery, humourous mockery, well-intended mockery, teasing mockery, all kinds of mockery.
When donbagley says "I refuse to respect superstition" I can give him that. Obviously, it grates to a religious person that their cherished beliefs are questioned or derided. But it's not realistic to expect non-believers to stay silent. Just as we want to talk about what we think/believe, so do they. And that's only fair.
I don't like to be made fun of - who does? But a belief, even one we hold, shouldn't be expected by the faithful to be sacrosanct to outsiders. And if it's the belief people question, I try not to equate that with questioning or mocking me. (However, sometimes the latter is the case, or feels hurtfully personal. Oh well. You can't legislate how people express their opinions. You can try but it's not the way we usually do it in civil society, thankfully).
Hearing others not like ourselves express their ideas and beliefs is interesting, instructive, educational. How else can we examine ourselves and our sacred cows? (Unless we don't want to - then we can cut ourselves off from the outside world and see and hear only what we want to, in order to protect our sensitivities. Oh wait. Some groups DO that. Don't listen, don't look, their leaders say. Too often that is an effective way to get people to stay in line. JWs come to mind, with their organization's strong emphasis on withdrawing from the world).
One of my most instructive moments came through Bill Maher, surprising to many I'm sure. Although not raised in it, I have always felt a strong pull towards Christianity. I have just had trouble deciding on which flavour to go for. And, unfortunately, have had some exceptionally negative experiences while looking for the right perch for myself inside its gates, so have never settled into one group for the long haul. But I always thought there was something wrong with me for not fitting in, not that maybe something was amiss with whichever group.
One night I happened to watch Bill Maher's TV show. I had never heard of him before. It was obvious he was "anti" religion but the discussion with a panel was interesting and I kept listening (my first big mistake, so my particular brand of religious friends/leaders would say). But, benignly for him, Maher's main point that night was that you are who you were always going to be, whether you're religious or not. (He meant your character). Many would say that's not true, especially if they were "troubled", such as addicts who got clean via religious belief. But for me it was a novel idea. I did think I was a fairly decent human but never felt good about myself, in large part because of the emphasis on being sinful and having to make frequent pleas to make ourselves better. When I heard Maher say you are who you were always going to be anyway, nice would be nice and nasty would be nasty, it was quite an enlightening thought for me and highlighted how I had been feeling without recognizing it.
I like enlightening thoughts.
I was averse to religious leaders advising cloistering ourselves. If that's the only way to keep on believing, or becoming or being a good person, it makes no sense to me. It also makes no sense that only a small select group will be "saved", quite a common religious teaching. That too was a lightbulb thought to me when I was a JW. It just didn't ring true to me that only JWs were God's chosen people. I was fortunate, I guess, to be out working in the world so not isolated like so many JWs, especially females. Also, I was a type of missionary for them for a year back East (Quebec). In that endeavour and also at work I met countless really good people who were not JWs and never would be. That got me thinking more deeply about JW theology. It was a start.
(I finally got out when my father had a serious accident here at home and the JWs back East told me, in line with WatchTower Society teaching, that I shouldn't go home to help out my family and see my dad who had nearly died but rather should stay and fulfil my missionary obligations. That made no kind of sense to me, especially for religious people who extol the virtues of family life, helping those in need, doing good deeds, etc. How, I asked myself, was it better for the world, for God, for the JWs, for me, for my family, if I stayed thousands of miles away from home, knocking on doors of people who weren't in or were happy in their own faith/or none, rather than if I returned to B.C. to see Dad and help Mom and the younger sibs. I was SO GLAD I made the right decision and came back. Family really needed me and I could help them, which is more, much more, than I was accomplishing in Quebec. This led to me eventually leaving the JWs - so to them, I'm positive - this is an object lesson in being "unfaithful". Disobey and "fall away". And look where it got me. Disfellowshipped actually. They disfellowship you for leaving the fold. That way you won't pollute anybody else's mind with your own free thoughts and actions. Members who think become their enemy. And thinking may well lead to leaving.
What kind of belief system is that, I still ask myself.
So I'm never going to say that hearing alternative opinions is a negative. And Bill Maher, like him or loathe him, uttered a profound thought that night that helped me more than a lot of other comments I had heard til then, or since. I still think that just because he derides religion is no reason to turn him off. Not caring for his content or the way he expresses himself or his life choices or his guests - OK - so flip the channel. But not just because he enjoys a bit of mocking here and there. :)
Again, I'm not saying I enjoy the shots at my own sacred cows, or myself. But we are never going to all agree on the one true way. Should that make us enemies? That way we miss out on meaningful friendships, I have found. And sow discourse in the world. That can't be right.