One of those “Born-againers”

My wife and I were having a conversation one day with one of her friends from work about spirituality and religion.  Carol’s friend described another acquaintance as “one of those born-againers”.  Carol mentioned to her friend that we were some of the “born-againers” too.  Her friend quickly responded, “No you’re not!  You don’t tell people how sinful they are all the time.”  It is with that interesting perspective on Christians that I begin this post. 

What is it about Christianity that makes people so put off, so sure that we are just ready to judge them and separate ourselves from everyone else?  While I have seen some instances of this strong judgmentalism, I often do NOT see it, but see the opposite, Christians loving and caring for their friends and the world, wanting the best for them. 

Ira GlassA few weeks ago (April 4th broadcast) on one of my favorite podcasts, “This American Life” they told the story entitled, “Brother Born Again.”  This was an audio highlight of the film by the same name.  In it the sister, who is the documentor, talks about her relationship (and her family’s relationship) with her older brother who had become a Christian.  She tells the story about his spiritual experience and his subsequent moving to a commune farm on an island in Alaska.  She approaches the story and her brother assuming that he would be the one to judge her and that he is the one that has created separation between her and the family.  Interestingly, as the story unfolds and the documentor sister progress in their questions and quest to find out more about her brother she realizes that it has not been him who has been creating the distance or making judgmental assumptions, but the other way around. 

Most fascintating in this very well done piece is the struggle you hear as the brother and sister process their faith and relationship.  It is fantastic!

I found myself cheering for the brother, hoping that he would not be a complete judgmental and overbearing idiot.  He is revealed to be quite thoughtful and faithful, while struggling through some fundamentalism doctrine.  I also found myself cheering for the sister and her quest to right relationship with her brother.  There is something in her tension that leads me to believe that more is going under the surface. 

Anyway, if you are a fan of good story, you should check out the podcast. 

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3 Responses to One of those “Born-againers”

  1. Kipper says:

    With all due respect, Brian, you really need to get out more if you are so ignorant to the judgmentalism of which so many non-Christians speak. I had friends in Leonardtown who claimed the same thing, and sure enough there came articles in the paper from Baptists, Methodist, and even a few hasty Nazarenes, condemning everyone from gays to democrats – all in the name of Christ. Even I became the victim of it toward the end of my pastoral duration. But even outside of ministry I see it, particularly in the Baptist group that arrives each Tuesday night in juvenile detention to “minister” to the kids. Mormons receive the hardest bashing, followed next by gays, environmental activists, Democrats (also deemed liberals), and the list goes on and on. So whereas I am delighted to hear about the love in progress, of which you are a witness; and to hear about testimonies to the contrary; too many “followers of Christ” have pointed the finger, laid down the judgment of the humanly divine, and driven too many would-be friends away from the Church and Christianity, screaming for something more…Christian.

  2. ragingbhull says:

    I am not denying that plenty of people have used the name of Christ and the label Christianity in the midst of their agendas (sometimes even very cruel and unjust ones). My experience though is that almost everyone who may stand and say, “Christians are judgmental, harsh, and unloving” if asked if they know any Christians or have any Christian friends will often respond, “well, yes, and they are not judgmental like that, but are quite loving”. (Okay, maybe not quite like that, but you get the point.) My question is, why then, if we have two options of what Christians are, do we choose the uglier, judgmental option? I’m not trying to be prescriptive here, I’m just wondering why this is?

    Is hate stronger than love? Does it leave a greater impression?

  3. Kipper says:

    I think, sir, at least from what I can observe from the various factions of the religion, that there are some who insist on their vision of what the world should be, versus those who buy into and accept blindly the vision of Another. I do not – at least for very long – presume to force my own sense of order upon things and persons in this world. But for some, it seems so absolutely important to them that any new and improved world take on their sense of order, than even the Cross seems chaotic unless explained in rational terms. Which may be the reason why most people would prefer the offerings of the Mystic Scientist who gazes into the void with wonder and limited understanding, rather than the religious rational who looks past the world with stubborn and faulty logic.

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