I'm pretty sure I've been a Christian my entire life. I'm not really sure when I really became a Christian. I don't really remember making a decision to follow Jesus Christ in a single moment in time. I remember being taught things, understanding them to make sense in the sphere of human reality, and believing in them. As a teenager I was baptized, which is the closest thing I personally have to the start of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There has been tension within my faith ever since.
I know I am a human being. Now, that might seem very obvious to you (well, depending on how well you know me...) but to me, that is at the forefront of everything I understand about existence. Zarathustra's greatest crime wasn't an attempt on the life of God, it was an attempt on the existence of the human soul - that which makes all of us true human beings. The invisible quality of my existence is immaterial. I can never be persuaded that I do not exist, that is, the part of me that answers the very basic perception of reality - that I have a consciousness. Intelligence is not merely the substance of my consciousness. I am a free man with free choices - the universe in which I exist is shaped not by matter, but by the abstract will of mankind. The moral rights we give to an animal are not the same you would give to me. I have a soul, a unique reality unto humanity. I do not have the moral justification to kill and eat a severely disabled human being who may have equal to, or less intelligence than an animal for food. I do not have the moral justification to train another human being to obey specific trivial rules such as when to sit, and when to eat, or who to bread with, or where to live. Etc, etc. Humans are free as long we hold onto our soul. As you read that last sentences, it is not simply a chemical reaction in your brain rejecting the equivocations of animals rights to human rights, it is a appeal to a basic, fundamental human right to exist freely in an open universe. (Furthermore, I am merely using animals as an argument for the soul, I myself have lived a vegetarian life, and fully respect those who object to the killing of animals. However, I believe that certain groups, who place the rights for animals to exist on the same level as human beings are ignoring reality. All rights are not created equal, and while I certainly believe animal rights do exist [recently I have been pondering a vegetarian life again] they are not to be equated with human rights).
Any faith system which argues against the soul is rubbish. "Faith system" is a enormous net. I am amazed at anyone who claims to not have faith. I love hearing men with such insane intellects as Richard Dawkins malign faith, while "humbly" insisting that further scientific pursuit will help further bring to light the apparent contradiction of a finite universe and his belief that a God (theistic, deistic, Spinozism, pantheism, polytheistic, or any definition of G(g)od) exists. Faith is believing in something unseen, or something that is yet unknown. Welcome to the faith system club, every human being who has ever existed.
Faith in human beings as intelligent animals falls apart. There is no transcending moral authority. We are animals who became kings, animals free from any authority. As Nietzsche put it: "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." Meaningless nothingness. That is your option. A soul beholding truth and beauty, common to all, perceived by every culture of man, and nothing. Nothing. People are looking in the mirror, willing to except the contradiction that nothing is true (except of course, the truth of a truthless existence?).
Is there a cry in the soul when injustice happens in the world? Do we not stand up against the plastic consumerism being shoved down our throat, the message that we are sex obsessed animals, mutable to the will of advertisers? A message which says consume and forget your true nature, the nature that is incensed when a little girl is sexualized, when a woman is told she will never have equality. When wars are fought, and humans are killed and maimed for lies and greed. When corporations rape our beautiful land, the land we live in and survive on. When our children are bullied and find solace in suicide. Are we animals or are we men and women deeply wounded and hurt beyond all reason and intelligence at the sight of unspeakable acts of violence in our world? Take back your soul - for it is the highest authority, the common breath of life for all mankind! Is this not truth, observed and imagined by every religion, every man from every culture, from every generation?
Since the birth of my relationship with Jesus Christ, I have entertained within my mind the battle between these two worldviews: Materialism and idealism. Besides the most glaringly obvious requirement for non-matter in a universe bound by space and time, I have at times seriously considered the truth of my faith. Some of you will probably be floored - How could I even consider walking away from Christ? (Spoiler alert: I can't).
To come to my conclusions, I have asked as a Christian - is this real? Have you ever been reading the Bible, and it seems so, just well, wild? Have you ever walked away from one interpretation into the other and just wondered how in the world you ever could have believed something like that in the first place? Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your parents weren't Christians? Or if you grew up, say in a Buddhist village never even giving a second thought to the name of Jesus? Have you ever wondered if such and such was a real story, or if so and so actually did write a book in the Bible? Have you ever wondered how much of culture influences the Bible?
Well, I have. It always amazed me when I hear some of the arguments that people put forth against the Christian life, like as if the people who have been studying the Bible their entire lives daily haven't thought of these questions. Or when they act as though I'm only a Christian because my parents are Christians, when they don't seem to realize that that pushes me away from Christ and not towards him. It's amazing to me when I meet a fellow Christian who puts their fingers in their ears, or their head in the sand when someone asks a hard question. Is this the best the skeptics can come up with? And is this the best our religion has to offer? Where is the honesty, the search for truth, the passion?
Guess what: The tension is there. The Book is REALLY hard work. People will walk away from their faith. The journey isn't easy. God doesn't introduce himself to you one night at a dinner party and reveal the nature of your existence to you. There are no easy discussions, or quick answers. The soul is a place of torment and joy - And at times, a possible solution to despair is the self-denial of your own soul's reality. It never works, it never solves the tension. Let's be perfectly honest here: When you try to kill God, you will inevitably recreate him in your own image. Sex, drugs, family, humanity, science, wealth - beautiful things and evil things - Atheism doesn't exist. I AM WHO I AM is either the definition of where we came from and where we are going - or you will fill the blanks for him.
But I get it - if you let the average Christian edit the bible, one of the only verses in it would be the few that condemn homosexuality. The parts about giving your everything to help the poor would be blacked out. I am sure Genesis 1 would start off the Bible, but maybe they would leave Genesis 2 out (you know, we wouldn't want to confuse anyone). I am sure those few verses about men being the head of the household would be underlined and bolded - but maybe all the women disciples that Jesus and the Church allowed to destroy social and gender barriers would be a foot note. Some Christians would take Jesus and rewrite him to be just a good man that did good things and lived a good life, instead of the controversial claim that he is the centre of human history, the absolute way to freedom, God invading humanity.
But I get it - this guy called his followers to live like him, but most Christians are too busy worrying about their futures (a nice mix between how much money they can make, and how many jacuzzi tubs are in their mansion in "heaven") than to give a care about the poor, the lonely, the marginalized. I am going to ask the same question everyone is asking: Why on earth are a lot of these people still calling themselves Christians? I mean, have you even been to a church that doesn't gossip? I mean, have you seen the way Christians talk about the poor? I mean, it seems like Christians are more concerned with censorship than salvation, you know, a salvation which means not dying from hunger, a salvation that means protecting the integrity of women, a salvation that means not getting your house destroyed by a bomb from some damned "just war". Did we miss it? I understand defending our sovereign soil, I understanding defending your home. But why did a man who claimed Jesus as his favorite philosopher, send out his soliders to die on foreign soil while bombing foreign homes, torturing prisoners of war and making the Western world more dangerous in the end?
I'm sorry, but even a president doesn't have the power to change the message of the man he claims to follow. And I know I'm Canadian, but I'm also a Christian, I also adore my philosopher of peace, salvation and forgiveness, and I'm terrified Jesus is now a symbol of agression, crimes against humanity, chauvinism, ignorance, intolerance - of war mongering, gossip, hatred and greed.
Jesus is freedom, peace, love, forgiveness and acceptance. He is the champion of the poor, the marginalized, the needy, the people caught in the arrogance of religion, the hungry, the people whose soul are broken....
The soul.... No matter how hard I try, I can never convince myself it doesn't exist. Trust me, I think it would be easier if I didn't have to... I would love to live as the animal who became a king, able to ignore the responsibility of living in a world of truth and value.
Jesus is for real. My soul runs along the same current of you, it points us to why things are wrong with the world, and to the one man who gave it all to make it better.