The Fantasy World Christians Live In Pt.1

Anyone who has seen the movie The Matrix knows that reality is a complex idea. In one sense, we are always living in a reality that we have created for ourselves (the blue pill). This reality allows us to believe what we want to believe, and allows us to consciously check out of the world and out of our own lives. This reality is fabricated by our own imagination. We are blind and ignorant to what is, but as some people might say, “Ignorance is bliss.” In another sense, we are connected to reality as it is (the red pill). In these moments, not only are we connected to that pain that we see around us, but we understand how much everything and everyone belong. This reality is a conscious awareness of God, the world, and ourselves. The red pill, as it is in The Matrix, allows us to experience this reality and be set free from the illusory reality that we once lived in. When we become conscious of reality as it is, we can begin to utter the words of Joshua, “Surely the LORD was in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16).

“Fundamentalist” Christians are great at making people very frustrated. (Although, we might be able to learn from how serious they take the Gospel, even if we might disagree on what that Gospel is.). They make a living out of pointing out how sinful, dysfunctional, and “wrong” other Christians and the world can be. They have made a habit of doing something that they feel is out “love” and abusing others in the process. They live in a blue pill world, where abusing others feels like “love.” They often use this passage from Jesus in Matthew 18:

15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

The problem with “fundamentalists” is that they are telling themselves a story about themselves. The story they tell themselves is the illusion that “because the Bible says it, I am right, they’re wrong. I am good, they’re bad. And, I must defend the truth” When we submit to the reality of the red pill, we’re choosing to submit to reality as it is with God (seen in Jesus Christ), and we must ask ourselves the cliché question, “What would Jesus do?” Well, the last time I checked, Jesus treated tax collectors and pagans very well. He invited them into his ministry, he took them out to eat (which is a sign of friendship), he healed them, and he treated them with kindness and compassion. It doesn’t mean that we can’t speak into each others’ lives (if we have permission), but it must be done in a way that replicates the same notion of compassion, peace, tenderness, and love that we see in Jesus. Unless we learn to escape from the story we tell ourselves about ourselves, we will never escape the abuse of being “defenders of the truth.”

(While this blog may not pertain to all Christians, every person will have engaged in at least one of the topics that follow)

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18 thoughts on “The Fantasy World Christians Live In Pt.1

  1. Is this a serious critique? Christian progressives do exactly the same thing. Have you never read womanist theology? Liberals and conservatives alike tribalize their own theological visions and call the other “evil, stupid, in their own matrix, etc.” while our side sees “it” (the Bible clearly). Tribalized Christians then look for Bible verses to support their already accepted positions then say that their other side “doesn’t really get it.” How are “fundamentalist” different from liberation theologians who have their own moral matrix?

    “The rest of us” just sounds like another tribe with it’s own matrix and confirmation bias problem.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Anthony,
      It is a serious critique. I put fundamentalist in quotations because it instills a mindset of black and white thinking, right or wrong thinking. Anyone who claims to have a complete claim on truth and prejudices against others, is in the wrong. There are fundamentalists, liberals, conservatives, and I think most atheists are fundamentalists too.

      Did I make any stances on doctrines to alienate either side? Not at all.

      • Yes, you did. You exposed your bias with this parenthetical ‘(Although, we might be able to learn from how serious they take the Gospel, even if we might disagree on what that Gospel is.).”

        You talking about particular “black and white” thinkers. And you refer to “fundamentalists” as “they.” “They?” That’s tribal talk . . . . .

        As I stated earlier, the blog title and subtitle some would argue shows a tribalizing bias. Doesn’t it? Who is “us”? A better way with respect to what?

        The irony of a blog about “us” complaining about the “fundamentalists” who thinking in a matrix of “us” versus “them” just seems interesting to me.

        It just seems like if the post was pointing out that “There are fundamentalists, liberals, conservatives, and I think most atheists are fundamentalists too.” it would have read that way. But maybe that’s part 2 so I’ll wait.

  2. Totally agree with Anthony hear. “Fundamentalists” is an easy target. I’m so tired of the “fundamentalists are mean and bad and don’t take Jesus’s call to love seriously”. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Been there, heard that. of course it’s true, but critiquing fundamentalists is often its own form of self-righteousness.

  3. sorry I meant, “You’re talking about”

    • Anthony, forgive me if I come across as combative, that’s not what I’m trying to do. First of all can you explain “tribal thinking” to me? I’ve never heard that term, I ‘d like to know what you mean.

      And “You talking about particular “black and white” thinkers. And you refer to “fundamentalists” as “they.” “They?” That’s tribal talk . . .” makes you sound smug and superior, which lumps you back in with the “black and white thinkers” or “fundamentalists” because you seem to be implying you’re NOT black and white, fundamentalists, or tribal, which distances yourself from “the rest of us”. Again, not trying to flame, insult, or anything argumentative. Just trying to understand that’s all.

      (Words of wisdom, first seek to understand before being understood). Help me understand what you’re trying to say?

  4. Mike Friesen says:

    Anthony and Peter, in previous writings I have written about both of these, fundamentalists in the functions of conservatives, liberals, and atheists. Each one of these pertains to a certain Gospel, whether it be a legal language gospel of conservatives, a social gospel for liberals, or a gospel of certainty for atheists. Both conservatives and liberals have something to teach us, which is why you cannot abide by a dualistic mindset.

    You’re in an illusion when you make claims that your tribe has the whole truth. It’s an illusion to think you can treat people with blatant disrespect because they disagree with you, or have done something to you, that’s not the ethic by which we treat tax collectors, pagans, or enemies. The ethic we are called to treat people is the royal law that we read about in James, the law of love.

  5. (I shared this link on my Facebook page and comment on it. For the sake of discussion I copied and pasted that comment below)

    Truth is truth. Fact is fact. No amount of arguing will change that. Your blog aluded to a movie, which itself is an analogy. It is simply a fictional story (entertainment for most, but revealing deeper truths for some)

    The fact of the matter is, truth sometimes hurts. Facts in the face of a deep-seated lie are painful. Sometimes peeling off the layers of scar tissue hurts, and sometimes it does cause damage – but the healing that follows is far better then the scar tissue.

    You, my friend, seem to have a knack for poking at our scars, our tender spots, at so-called “truth” that we have swallowed before revealing glimpses of real TRUTH. Are you always 100% correct? Nope – thank goodness, it makes you just as human as me. And our struggle to reconcile the HUMANITY of Jesus with the culture of our world is just that a struggle. We see through a dim, dirty mirror. Someday, we’ll meet Him face to face. Keep it up brother, I’m glad I found you in my journey.

  6. Brook says:

    Very well said – however I would contend that we should be asking “what IS Jesus doing?” rather than simply “wwjd” as this (in my opinion) is shorthand for “what would Jesus do IF HE WERE ME” which then makes me the centre of the story again. The first question, “what is Jesus doing?” allows us to partner with and participate in what Christ is STILL doing!

  7. Rosten says:

    Mike, this might be way off base (and correct me if I am wrong on this Anthony), but it sounds like Anthony’s definition of “tribalism” is the same as your definition of “fundamentalism.” That would make a lot of sense anyways, as those two have similar practical applications in the real world.

    Most people do use the word “fundamentalist” as pejorative rather than simple objective description…and personally speaking, I’ve never heard a liberal individual described as a fundamentalist (even though liberal fundamentalists certainly exist). If these are Anthony’s problems with you using the word, they are certainly understandable. Of course, as you said already, you have described your belief that fundamentalism exists in all kinds of belief circles. Having said all of that, maybe I don’t understand Anthony and Peter’s perspective on this one.

    Anthony and Peter, have you been accused of being fundamentalists by some left-wing nut-jobs?

    (That was intended to be a bit humorous at the end there…please don’t think I’m making fun of you.)

  8. Rosten, left-wing nut jobs would absolutely call me a “fundamentalist”. Fundamentalists would think I was too progressive. I’m definitely not in the middle though. I am on the “conservative” end of the spectrum, if we use that metric. As Anthony has pointed out, though, a big problem he and I have is with what is necessarily communicated by the blog title: “Christianity for the rest of us.” This is absolutely and undeniably tribal. It is tribal by definition. There are some people over there who have their “Christianity” and we don’t like/respect them (because their “fundamentalist” however one defines it), but we over here have our own version of Christianity that is enlightened and not divisive (except of course against divisive people).

    I actually agree with much of the sentiment behind this post, but I’m tired of the uber-hip fundamentalist-bashing which is painfully ironic.

    • Corey says:

      I would suggest that “Christianity for the Rest of Us” is more akin to the occupy movement “We Are the 99%” idea…The ‘fundamentalists’ on all sides are the polarizing few while the vast majority falls somewhere in between. This means that it is not tribal in the sense of creating our own separate and better version of Christianity, but rather simply acknowledging that most of us aren’t on the fringes of the faith.

  9. Rosten says:

    Peter, I’m still thinking we have a disagreement of definitions happening here, and it’s your second sentence that makes me think that. “Fundamentalists would think I was too progressive.” That sentence makes it sound like fundamentalism only exists among conservatives, which Mike certainly isn’t saying. You might agree or disagree with him on that one, although I do agree with him. I know plenty of fundamentalist liberals as well as conservatives. The problem isn’t the specific beliefs, it’s the demonization of those who don’t share those beliefs that characterizes fundamentalism. Granted, lots of people also demonize fundamentalists. There’s a reason for that though; those who take their beliefs to the extremes of fundamentalism are historically much more likely to kill or ostracize others for disparate views.

    Regardless, I don’t think Mike is attacking liberal beliefs or conservative beliefs. I think he would say that extreme polarization of beliefs (the “us” vs. “them” mentality that you also seem to be against) is the problem. I was a liberal fundamentalist for quite a while, so I certainly appreciate the distinction. For me a large part of the problem, cheesy though it sounds, is that I forgot that Jesus is the savior of the world…not my ideas, beliefs, Barack Obama or my meditation practices.

    As for the title of his blog, sure it is hip, and maybe even a little condescending and divisive. Having said that, I have a feeling that the name of this blog rings awfully true with a lot of non-Christians as well as post-Christians. In my experience with those groups, especially post-Christians, sometimes they aren’t that interested in what you have to say unless they see a bit of distance between you and their perceptions of Christianity, whether those perceptions are fair or not. Maybe a good question then is whether we should then distance ourselves from those perceptions, or if we should make efforts to redeem the reality behind those perceptions. Both have difficulties, and I think Mike tries to do both in different ways. Regardless, one man can’t do all things with one blog.

  10. What *is* the “reality of the red pill”? Couldn’t one person’s red pill be another one’s blue pill? And couldn’t what you know to be the red pill today turn out to be a blue pill tomorrow? Does a red pill even exist at all?

  11. NIcs Cahill says:

    Mike, I see great truth in this line –

    ‘ It doesn’t mean that we can’t speak into each others’ lives (if we have permission), but it must be done in a way that replicates the same notion of compassion, peace, tenderness, and love that we see in Jesus.’

    I am not sure that we will always have permission to speak into someone else’s life – I am not sure what that permission means or looks like, but I think that it is essential to meet people where they are at in our conversation, as opposed to preaching at them.

    I love how you talk about how Jesus treated people – he treated them with respect, and I think it is the respect for others point of view, that gives us common ground to have conversation even if we fundamentally agree on the positions the other takes.

    Again – thank you for sharing your work with us.

  12. Rosten, this blog post and the title of this blog create an “us vs them” mentality, that I oppose. The “us vs them” isn’t broken down along conservative or liberal lines, is broken down against those people who don’t get it (i.e., aren’t like Jesus in being respectful and loving, etc.) and “us” who do get it. The enlightened ones. The “us” of the blog title. Christianity for the rest of *us*. That is tribal and that is exactly what Anthony and I have a problem with. There are those people over there who have their “Christianity” and then there is “us” who have our Christianity. Tribal. Not helpful.

  13. Rosten says:

    Peter, the main thing that I would ask you then is this: have you asked Mike what he means by the title? As Corey previously responded, there are other ways that title could be understood than the specific way that you are understanding. Now, I haven’t read the entire blog, nor have I spoken personally with Mike about it, so I could be speaking entirely out of ignorance. You could also simply be stating that since the blog title could be taken as an us/them statement, it is therefore tribal and therefore Mike should change it. I believe I understand your argument, but I would still wonder if you know for sure that is Mike’s intention (and by “know” I mean that you have asked him questions of discovery rather than assuming that you have grasped the full meaning behind his words).

    Please understand that I am not trying to attack you, I just want to push back because I understand how easy it is to make assumptions rather than seeking understanding. It is one of my personal sins, and I believe one of the deep sins of people on internet forums and blogs.

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