17 November 2007

The World is Not Fallen

From an email I received over a year ago:
    ... but birth defects (and all illnesses and mental problems and meanness and......) are all caused by the fact that we live in a fallen world. There is a way that things are supposed to be (by design) and they are not that way because of sin. But given the fact that we live in a fallen world, birth defects are something we have to live with for now ... just because something is "natural" doesn't mean that's the way it is supposed to be.

My reply at the time:
    First, I think the world is beautiful as it is. It seems to me that you want the world to be something that it isn't, and I see the world for what it is and like it that way. God made it, and Nature shaped it, and it's chock full of neato wondrous things. Yes, human nature has its dark sides, but that's part of the splendour. There are light sides and dark sides to the world, and they balance each other out in so many cool ways. And that's exactly how it's "supposed to" be.

    So when you call it "fallen" and "wrong", well, that starts treading the edges of my own religious sensibilities. It feels like you're trying to insult it (the world, that is), and therefore Nature and God.

    Life isn't about perfection. Perfection is static and ultimately sterile. And worse, perfection isn't living. We were blessed to be put on the earth and given a chance to experience life and living. And learning from it. There is no "should" or "supposed to" in living. There is only "is." And only after you grasp what that means, and reach acceptance, can you truly learn what life is
    really all about.

She is some denomination of Protestant Christian, I'm not sure which one. She didn't reply, though we've exchanged other emails since then. I still don't understand how anyone can live that way. It seems to me the height of insult to reject the world God made because you don't personally like it, and the height of arrogance to then go on and think you know how it should've been instead.

We weren't talking about evolution vs. creationism, which is what reminded me of the email exchange. We were talking about gender dysphoria, a type of social birth defect. Both are fairly controversial topics here in the U.S. due to widespread ignorance, though I understand they are non-issues in much of Europe. And my reaction to both types of ignorance, when it comes to the kinds of rationalizations that often occur on the way to understanding (if it happens), is about the same.


Anne said...

As an agnostic, I know I don't know. That tends to inform my outlook on things secular as well as theological.
I've always found it fascinating the different ways people find to process the same data and come up with totally different theories about the world. (Different starting points? :P ) I try to keep that in mind every time I think I know something about someone else. We all tell stories to ourselves about our lives -- little stories, and big stories, that are shared by whole groups. I don't mean stories as fiction, but stories as a way to process facts.

That being said, it's a little frustrating that the system (if it IS a system) that provides us the freedom and opportunity to learn and grow and find beauty and wonder is the same system that allows people to be close-minded, negative, and judgemental. My response to this frustration is to present as positive an example as I possibly can.

Incidentally, my chosen position on life is very similar to yours. I choose to believe, because it makes my life richer. I'm told that because I critically choose what is true for me from many different sources, I'm going to hell. Oh well. I hear all the cool people are going there.

MWT said...

Yeah. Everyone is walking a different path, and it's endlessly fascinating how they meet and from which directions. It's why I enjoy following the lives of people that are as different from mine as possible. And I'm certainly hoping that this blog is providing views of my own life in a positive light. It's here for anyone who wants to see it and learn from it, the same way I learn from watching the paths of others'.

Anne said...

"I'm certainly hoping that this blog is providing views of my own life in a positive light."

You are, MWT, here and in the comments of other blogs. :)

Sam said...

I've observed that there seem to be two main types of religion. One tries to escape bad things, the other tries to understand bad things. Christians I've spoken with, for instance, generally blame all the ills of this world on either Satan, Eve or Adam and just want to "do their time" and get out of here, to Heaven. They inherited this escapist desire from the Jews before them who followed a lot of (from my perspective) really strange laws to ensure that they stayed in YHWH's good graces. On the other hand, a lot of New Age/pagan/eclectic people I know think that the world is either 1)just fine or 2)not irreparably problematic.

You can perhaps analyze a person's mind with fair accuracy just by knowing what religion (and sect thereof) they have chosen (assuming, of course, they weren't pressured socially into choosing that religion.)

MWT said...

As a general rule, labels tend to be good shorthands for what type of person you're faced with. It's why we have them, and where stereotypes come from. But they only go so far. The fascinating part comes when you get past the labels to find what kind of person is underneath them, and more importantly, how they got that way.

John the Scientist said...

Certain types of minds self select into certian denominations. I'm no fan of the Catholic Church, but they at least want their people to live in this life for all its worth.

There's a great line about Suothern Batpists in "I am One of You Forever", that I'll have to dig up.

MWT said...

Seeing as how I'm surrounded by southern Baptists, I'm all ears if you find it. :)

John the Scientist said...

Careful, now. I am a Baptist and a Southerner (down to the SCV membership), but not a Southern Baptist. They don't believe in singing, dancing, or drinking, and I do all three. As a matter of fact, the Church I went to as a kid had an organist who organized a jazz band when he was 12 and played the best religious music I have ever heard, despite not being able to read sheet music.

The Southern Baptists came around to try to get us to join their federation. Hah. Only white people could think up the musical restrictions, and there were exactly three white people in our church. I don't know why they even bothered asking us, there can't be more than two black congregations in the entire Southern Baptist Convention.

MWT said...

Ah. Sorry if I offended.

If I ever were to join a Christian congregation of any kind, I'd probably look for a black one, just because it looks so much more fun. :) I went to a funeral held at a black church once, and it was like culture shock watching all the white people sitting there being quiet and looking out of their depth.

Heh, and I must say that my mental image of you has just drastically shifted well away from the previous version where you looked like a standard Russian. ;)

John the Scientist said...

I was just teasing. Just reminding you that you never know whom you are talking to on the Net ;-)

BTW - the three white people in our church were me, my Mom and my Pop. There are a few black people who can join the SCV (like William Gant or Henry Wyatt), but not many. I would look like a standard Nazi if my hair were a shade blonder, but if I dress in a balck suit I still look like an SS officer. My surname is Prussian, and there are Hessians on the distaff side, and it seems that not much of the Scotts or Irish came through in my looks.

John the Scientist said...

I finally found my copy of “I Am One of You Forever”. It’s set in the rural South around 1942. This passage takes place in Mr. Campbell’s store. Mr. Campbell is suffers from a constant stream of condemnation from the Southern Baptists because he sells whisky in his store.

They weren’t about to hang back. If it wasn’t a scrawny jackleg preacher leaning on nthe greasy chopblock to sermonalize the hapless pudgy man, then it was some long-jawed deacon. If it wasn’t a deacon then it was a fierce-talking sister of the church, her gray hair pinned back, gray light glinting on her rimless spectacles. Not even the children gave him peace. Their parents had taught them to say, after paying for their Kool-Aid or peppermints, “Thank you kindly, Mr. Bound-for-Hell.”

He had a sense of irony and told my father that he’d come goddam near changing the name of his establishment to the Bound for Hell Grocery & Dry Goods and only backed off when he found out what it would cost to have his sign repainted.

And then Johnson Gibbs lost that baseball game Mr. Campbell got up against the True Light Rainbow Baptist Church. “That was a trial” he said. “There wasn’t one car on the road didn’t stop here for somebody to run in and tell me how I backed the wrong team because I ain’t sitting on the righthand side of Jesus.”

“I’d be more inclined to fault Johnson’s pitching” my father said.

“Suppose I’d been sitting on the sunny side of the Lord and we won that game. Where would that put them?” Mr Campbell said.

“Might have started a theological ruckus.”

“They can’t stand much more ruckus,” he said “There where the road starts up Turkey Cove is your Rainbow Baptist Church, and it’s a nice white wood church. You go on up the cove a piece and there’s a little old concrete block house which is your New Rainbow Baptist Church. A big chunk of them busted away in an argument over predestination. Another two miles is the True Light Rainbow Baptist Church, which starts off with a few concrete blocks and finishes up tar paper siding.”

“And if we’d won that baseball game?”

“They’d of had them another fight. You’d go up on the mountain and find a pup tent by the road. The One True Light Rainbow Reformed Holiness Baptist Church of the Curveball Jesus.”

“Too bad we didn’t win,” my father said. “I’d be curious to read the articles of faith of that one.”

MWT said...

Haha :) I like it.