Thursday, September 28, 2006

Afraid of Exposure?

Dan was my friend in Oceanside. He and I talked for hours and hours about religion, and the Bible. We would read the literature of his church, and debate about whether it was an accurate reflection of Biblical thought. Other than the Bible, we never read the writings of my faith together. Dan was a Jehovah's Witness. He was taught that writings of other churches were "spiritual pornography." I had actually seen Dan, and few of his Jehovah Witness friends recoil when I presented some of my own writings, or the books I was reading. A few times I admit I did it on purpose. It was funny to watch. An innocent bystander might have thought I had suddenly pulled an explicit porn mag out of one of those plain paper wrappers.

I have friends who are Witches, and Neo-Pagans. I have noticed that people from my same Charismatic brand of Christianity treat the writings of my Witch friends with the same nervous fear Dan, and his friends had toward my innocuous materials.

Okay, I do believe that it is true that the pen is mightier than the sword. Perhaps my writing is not completely harmless or uninspired, but there is an interesting connection between Dan's response to evangelical Christian books, and my fellow Charismatic and Pentecostal brothers' fears of Witchcraft material.

I had to study American and European Neo-Paganism, because I live in Salem, and I have friends who practice Witchcraft. Perhaps such studies are not for everyone, but neither is Coasteering, or Spelunking. The connections between jumping off rocks into the wild Welsh Waters off Pembrokeshire, and reading occultic literature in order to learn how other people think may not be easily divined by anybody but evangelical Christians. We truly are afraid of Pagan literature, and Pagan people in most cases. But I have to ask myself, "Why are we so afraid?"

Are we afraid of being exposed to something dangerous? Or is there something deeper going on here?

I have noticed that Pagan literature, and Pagan adherents have some accurate critiques of Christianity. They identify real problems, and abuses by the church over the centuries. Some of these abuses still go on today.

Could there be a deep fear not so much of being exposed to something dangerous, but of being exposed by something we might read in another religion's writings, or by interaction with the people from alternative religions?

I don't find my fundamental doctrines changing because I have friends who are Witches, and because I have read their material, but I do find I have been exposed at times. I have had to change, because their critique of Christianity was pretty darn accurate. I didn't look much like Jesus. They were able to put the finger on me.

Could this be a problem in the church today? Are we satisfied with our current church culture? Are we unwilling to entertain the idea that there just might be something wrong with the way we are doing things? Could we be afraid of being exposed not "to", but "by" Pagan thought? Is that what we are really afraid of?


Anonymous said...

Now you're going to scare people with this post. You're challenging them to think and they don't like to move away from their nice little safe zone where everything they've been fed about the world is just so.

Good stuff. :)



Pastor Phil said...

It is Halloween time in Salem already. Is scaring a problem?