Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

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…All the King’s horses and all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

So I’ve stopped reading the Bible. I no longer pray (at least, not in the traditional hands-folded, knees-bent sort of way); haven’t for going on five years. I don’t, under any circumstances, insist that my interlocutors “praise Jesus,” although I may return a polite “You, too” when someone tells me to have a “blessed day,” simply because I’m fairly certain God hasn’t cornered the market on blessing people.

Which brings me to my point: I still want desperately to bless people. Not by proxy. Not by pointing to some undefined deity in the Great Unknown, thereby relieving myself of any real involvement in the matter. I want to bless them. Through my actions, with my words–a smile here, a wave there, a handful of pocket change, if the occasion warrants, whatever. And I want all this in the absence of religious belief (institutional religious belief, that is; everybody’s religious, but that’s an argument for a different day).

Cue cognitive dissonance…

Here’s the old chestnut: How do we explain our ability to distinguish between good and evil, or our desire to help others and avoid hurting them, if there is no Absolute Example, no Ultimate Source, in which to ground them?

Heck. I don’t know. Does it matter? Really? Or is it just one more of the pointless arguments in which we entangle ourselves, thereby obviating the question? I don’t know why I want others to be warm and well-fed, and I don’t really put too much time into thinking about it.

It seems that, to some, “good works” are not legitimate unless legitimized by particular base assumptions. I’ve heard Christians, for example, claim that unless we love “because He first loved us,” then we might as well quit the clanging and chuck our cymbals out the window. On the other hand, I’ve heard atheists suggest that Christian actions are so bedecked with “ulterior motives” that they must be suspect by their very nature. And the conversation, as it does so often anymore, breaks down again…

I leave you with the words of political scientist Robert Audi, from Political Commitment and Secular Reason (2000): “an extensive agreement in moral practice is compatible with absence of agreement or even sharp disagreement in moral theory.”

To my atheist friends: Is it really the “ulterior motive” that worries you when you see a Christian doing good? Or is it that it makes you wonder if the “God-folks” might actually have a leg to stand on?

To my Christian friends: Why are you so desperate to prove that non-Christian means non-moral? Is it perhaps that loving actions performed by non-believers hint that maybe Truth extends beyond the pages of Holy Scripture?

Would the real Jesus please stand up?

29 thoughts on “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

  1. “Atheists and agnostics are more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people, a new study finds.

    That doesn’t mean highly religious people don’t give, according to the research to be published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. But compassion seems to drive religious people’s charitable feelings less than it other groups.

    “Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” study co-author and University of California, Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer said in a statement. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.””

    http://www.livescience.com/20005-atheists-motivated-compassion.html

    1. Study says: Okay. I don’t buy it, but okay. I think, perhaps, we’re running aground on the definition itself of compassion. The non-Christian’s compassion may ground itself in simple fellow-feeling (physical needs, etc.); the Christian’s compassion is often grounded in the spiritual (you know the drill). It’s still compassion. Whether or not I consider the grounding legitimate, my point is that the good has been done. I have myself been on “missions-oriented” ventures that have resulted in new homes, clothing, food, etc., for those in need. Were they preached to, as well? Perhaps. Even probably. But the question is: does that negate the good that was done? I think not.

      But my biggest problem with this study you cite is this: it’s just another opportunity for the non-Christian to feel him or herself superior to the Christian (which idea is borne out by the buttload of blog posts that pop up on Google when you search for this study, and which is one of the complaints lodged against Christians by non-Christians). This constant need to be “better than” is what keeps the conversation from happening in the first place.

      1. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. What I basically gather from your comment is that you are saying I dug this out to prove that non-believers are superior to Christians. I think it all depends on your filter, Vance. I posted this to show that the non-believers were motivated by compassion because they were operating from purely empathic urgings, while the “most” religious tended to be motivated for other reasons outside of their natural inclination to empathize.

        I also want to mention that when we do good and then give a god credit for this behavior, it does tend to send the message that non-believers are not capable of being moral.

      2. V,

        I apologize if I misread your intent. And there’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree; it’s how I get along with most of the people in my family, lately, and quite a few friends besides.

        One thing, though: I wonder about your last remark there. If we insist that ONLY those who credit God with the good they do are capable of being moral, then we go to far. But if I say that I did something because in the Bible God teaches me to, that’s simply my motivation, and doesn’t speak to anyone else’s ability or motivation. Which brings us back to the filter you mentioned. I think sometimes we get messages no one intended to send. Which brings us back to me misinterpreting your mention of the aforementioned study.

        And so on…

      3. Vance, thank you for your comment. What I am really trying to stress is that both believers and nonbelievers should be aware of the fMRI studies demonstrating that the greater the pleasurable brain activation, the more likely subjects were to give frequently.

        http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324009304579041231971683854

        “The scans revealed that when people made the decision to donate to what they felt was a worthy organization, parts of the midbrain lit up—the same region that controls cravings for food and sex, and the same region that became active when the subjects added money to their personal reward accounts.”

        I’d also like to point out that it grieves me that I was taught (based on scriptures) that nonbelievers were wicked and unrighteous. I actually feared being around them and didn’t believe they could be altruistic. It was so strongly reinforced when I was a believer that I honestly thought it was true. This was instilled in me well before I became evangelical.

        So I will admit that I am sensitive about this topic.

      4. I think all of us who have left such an overarching worldview behind are sensitive about this topic, to one degree or another. I actually have a list of the Top 3 Despicable Things I Did, all of them based on the premise that others were “evil,” during my time in ministry, and I kick myself over them regularly.

        I also have to remind myself that this sensitivity can work in reverse: it can create in us an impression that people who are believers are incapable of being altruistic, mainly because of memories of ourselves as believers. This is just as harmful an assumption, I think, as any we made while Christians about non-Christians. It is also one that I know from personal experience is not true.

        The thing that sticks in my mind is this: there is a difference between doing something because one is a Christian, and doing something in an attempt to make someone else one. It’s a fine line, but a line nevertheless. The faith that teaches that we should “give so that our left hand doesn’t know what our right hand is doing” can’t possibly be completely unaltruistic (I think that’s a word, although WordPress doesn’t seem to agree…).

      5. it can create in us an impression that people who are believers are incapable of being altruistic, mainly because of memories of ourselves as believers.

        I understand where you are coming from, but the main reason nonbelievers are upset is because studies show that we are considered the least trustworthy, compared equal to the moral character of rapists. It’s why I have few friends in my offline world. It’s one of the main reasons why my marriage ended “unequally yoked”. It’s why I’ve lost 3 jobs in the last 3 years. It’s why so many unbelievers are still in the closet. It’s why there are so many pastors who no longer believe, yet remain in the church, pretending to be believers, because the costs are too high.

        It’s a big problem, and little is being done from the Christian end to curtail the bigotry.

      6. Do you think more is being done to curtail bigotry from the non-Christian end? I seem to remember landing myself in the middle of a discussion recently that suggested, among other things, that Christians are only capable of doing good in spite of themselves and that there is no difference between a Christian and a Christian fundamentalist, both being equally bad.

        It’s hard to reach out to others when those others are constantly chopping off your hand at the wrist. And there are hands reaching out from both sides. This much I know for a fact.

      7. I would like to echo a bit of what Victoria is saying here. The more evangelical/fundamentalist take on altruism and “being good” is that we cannot, no not one, do it for goodness sake. I’ve sat under teaching and have seen it propagated here in blogland that even when the heathen does something altruistic it is still God acting through them, willing them to the good deed.

        It doesn’t make it true….but still.

      8. I’m not disagreeing with you. I was raised listening to those arguments as well. Still hear them sometimes from friends and family. There are very good odds that I taught them myself during my ministry days.

        But here’s the thing: I’m gonna go out and build houses, or collect clothing, or feed the homeless. If my Christian counterparts insist on thinking that I’m unconsciously doing God’s work, well…fine. So long as they’re out there building houses, collecting clothing, or feeding the homeless alongside me…

        This is really all I’m trying to say here. (The irony of a post about not debating this ending up a debate about this is not lost on me.)

      9. Hahahaha!

        I agree. I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m really not that concerned about what others think my motivations are for anything. In fact, in my neck of the woods it’s actually to my advantage for people to think that I’m doing my Christian duty. 😉

      10. Oh, and one other point: I’d also agree that it shouldn’t matter what a person’s motivation is so long as the good gets done. If someone believes they need a God to tell them to do good for others then by all means they should probably keep their belief. Otherwise they might be a selfish pig. 😉

      11. “But here’s the thing: I’m gonna go out and build houses, or collect clothing, or feed the homeless. If my Christian counterparts insist on thinking that I’m unconsciously doing God’s work, well…fine. So long as they’re out there building houses, collecting clothing, or feeding the homeless alongside me…”

        That’s all fine and dandy so long as they continue to work towards making the environment less hostile for nonbelievers. If they continue to re-instill that humans are simply not capable of being good unless the Christian god is behind the wheel, then I simply don’t see us progressing.

        Would nonbelievers even give a rat’s behind it wasn’t for the negative outflow that affects the well being of both believers and unbelievers? I doubt it.

      12. What — the negative outflow part? Promoting and reinforcing ancient ideologies that continue to be reinforced on modern society. Also, what I mentioned previously about the impact on well being towards nonbelievers.

        Example: While things may be changing in your more moderate Christian denominations, the largest denominations still discriminate against women being in leadership roles, i.e. priests, and pastors. Many if not most Christian denominations teach that there is a hell, and this has a negative psychological impact on children (and adults).

        And again, I point out that it is still very taboo to be an unbeliever or to even address the personal negative repercussions with mental health professionals.

    2. I have been watching this conversation unfold since it was posted. The trouble is, I see both sides. I think all the comments thus far have been correct, but I think they’re all missing points too.
      I was fortunate. When I realized I was an atheist, I found a lot of support in my husband. I didn’t have many friends and they all lived far away, but the ones that I loved didn’t care about my lack of religiosity. Family was another matter, but all things considered, I was lucky. As you mentioned Vance, there are some things that are easier not to talk about when you disagree with someone close. I have never said the word ‘atheist’ around most family members and rarely around friends, never to acquaintances. Their reactions would be of shock, dismay, concern, fear, anger, and other negative feelings. If asked, I am honest. So many people I know are aware that I don’t believe in any deities, but the label would be too much for them. There is a reason I don’t share my blog with my very few Facebook friends.
      I agree with Victoria in that this reaction is wrong and harmful and is a result of the theology. Of course not all Christians react that way or believe that way, but this is in spite of the theology, not because of it. ‘Not All Christians’ smacks too much of ‘Not All Men’. The Bible is convenient. Cherry picking and interpreting can give you a message of love or hate, it depends on the reader. The problem is that almost any book can be read that way. Of course there is beauty in it, it is a fantastic work of fiction, but it’s not treated as fiction and therein lies the problem.
      I profoundly disagree with the assertion that the reasons why we do things don’t matter. I think they matter greatly. I believe that you and I have discussed this in comments before, Vance, though I can’t remember which blog or when. Motivations matter because even the best actions done for bad reasons can bring about bad actions for the same bad reasons. Never is this clearer than with religion. Example: A missionary goes to another country to bring supplies and spread the gospel. The missionary succeeds in convincing a young man, leaves him a Bible, and goes home feeling good about himself. The young man reads the Bible and interprets the message as one of violence and vengeance. Maybe he alienates himself, maybe he starts his own church, maybe he becomes a missionary himself, spreading good works and hate wherever he goes. All for the price of some bottled water. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. If that seems to far-fetched, just remember the bloody history of how religion spreads or turn on CNN and give it five minutes.
      On an individual scale, religion can transform lives for the better. On the whole, however, there can be no question – religion is harmful to the mentality of society. It taps into our most base, primal instincts and rarely lets go. It makes adherents fearful, close-minded, and too often, violent. This is why we avoid conversations with loved ones. This is why we are in the closet. This is why I don’t usually say the word ‘atheist’ out loud. We’re lucky to live in a country where it (probably) won’t get us killed.
      There are certainly equally close-minded atheists who do not associate with believers and find nothing redeeming in anyone that is religious. But here’s the difference – there is no dogma for atheism. If an atheist closes out believers, that is that one atheist’s personal choice. When a believer shuts out atheists, they do so because they are following the letter of the law and with the full weight and power of their religion behind them. Atheists casting believers out of their lives can never be as damaging because there are so few of us. To truly leave behind believers, an atheist would have to alienate all of society. I’m not saying it’s right in either case, but the motivations and consequences are very different.
      I do not begrudge believers their good works and good will, but I do believe that those who do so with religious prerequisites are not doing so from a good place and the fruits of their labor are much more likely to turn sour.
      When I was in a place of severe financial burden, all of the programs that were out there to help were church run. I chose to go without rather than having to either lie or continually defend my position. If not for the secular, government programs available, I would have been in a very difficult and lonely position. There was a time when my family would have greatly benefited from me having a job, but the only childcare that was affordable was church run. If I wanted my family to be a bit better off, I would have had to consent to my daughter being indoctrinated. We went without. Vance, you spoke of a fine line between doing something because you are a Christian and doing something in hopes of making someone else a Christian. In too many cases, that line ceases to exist at all. In my personal experience, it only exists when the Christian is working with a secular group.
      On the other hand, there is the problem of labels. Labels are inherently divisive. I’ve talked about this numerous times on my blog, as you both know. We have labels for our sexuality, race, beliefs, nationality, and so on. We can wrap ourselves in them so tightly that we can’t hear anyone not already wrapped in the fabric with us.
      Yet I still call myself an atheist. In many ways, I feel it is an unnecessary term. If not for the ever present influence of religion on my life, I would not feel the need to ever talk about religion or worry about what other people believe. But what other people believe affects me everyday. It is already affecting my children. I fully understand why this is so. If I wholeheartedly believed what religion teaches, of course I would want it to infuse every facet of my life – that is simply human nature.
      I don’t know if either of you remember my post about certainty, but I am reminded of it here. If we were all a little less certain, a little less attached to our beliefs and labels, I think we would be okay. So much of the time, questioning a person’s beliefs is seen as an attack on the actual person. We internalize our beliefs and labels, they become us. Our labels are meant to help others understand us better, but they usually just end up dividing the world into ever smaller groups of ‘us’ and ever larger groups of ‘them’.
      I am willing to let go of my atheist label, but right now I think society is at a stage where the visibility of atheism is important. Let them know who we are, let them know we aren’t amoral monsters. I am more than willing to accept all believers into my life as close friends and beloved family. I already have. But the believers in my life had to want to accept me, they had to defy their closely held beliefs. Many of them have admitted that their beliefs and the reality of who I am do not gel. They admit their cognitive dissonance, but say that they are unwilling to let it go. With this being the case, I don’t think that we are anywhere near getting rid of our labels. I do think we are incrementally getting better at letting other people keep their own labels and thoughts though.
      I do care why people build houses as Christians rather than simply building houses as humans. If they can drop their agenda, I can drop my label. But who is to act first? It would seem that we are both stubborn and unwilling. That’s why I believe uncertainty and honesty and so paramount. If we can both admit that we don’t know, if we can both let go of what we want the other one to be, then we can build those houses together.
      Heck, I don’t know Vance. I’m willing to go to your wife’s church and help them in their efforts of good will. I am more than willing to talk to them about our philosophical differences. But the moment they start preaching to someone they are helping that hasn’t specifically asked to be preached to…well, that’s the moment I mention that I am an atheist. That’s the moment I test their altruism. That’s the moment I give the person being preached to the option not to be preached to. I don’t think the smiles would be as warm after that. I’d likely be looking for another group to do good will with. There are exceptions and maybe your wife’s church is one of them, but I am well versed in the typical reaction.
      I think we just have to keep looking for people that want to build, regardless of why. We can all get to know each other while doing good, despite the differences. We can realize we aren’t so different. We can ease up on our beliefs, let go of labels. But the call for help has to be an open one, no prerequisites. That’s why I love the idea of Nouveau Bloom. I long for the day that labels are unnecessary and beliefs don’t define us. For now, I’ll keep my honesty and my uncertainty.

      1. Geez, my friend, when you comment, you comment. This is not a bad thing, just…geez!

        There’s nothing wrong with being open about who you are and what you believe. It’s precisely my inability to keep quiet that led me to start blogging. And sometimes openness will get you a smack in the face. But that’s the price of openness, and without openness there is no communication. Also, without some level of disagreement and conflict, there is no communication. So, by all means, be who you are, Toad, Muggle, whatever. But that means you gotta let everyone else be who they are, too, even if who they are pisses you the heck off.

        My problem is this: I see non-Christians (I’m speaking in general, not of you) all around demanding open-mindedness from Christians: “give me a chance to show you who I really am.” And then turning around and insisting that all Christians should be lumped into a mindless mass of bigotry and self-delusion. That is dirty pool. no matter how you look at it. We cannot demand a certain standard be applied to us without applying it ourselves to others, and maintain any level of discursive honesty.

        I’m not saying this is easy, or that I’m any good at it myself a lot of the time, but if we want the Bloom to succeed at all (and I haven’t forgotten about that, by the way), we’ve got to, as you said, learn to work together.

        I think you hit the nail on the head: “I think we just have to keep looking for people that want to build, regardless of why. We can all get to know each other while doing good, despite the differences. We can realize we aren’t so different. We can ease up on our beliefs, let go of labels.”

      2. Yeah, most of my posts aren’t anywhere near that long even. What can I say? You inspire me. :o)

        I agree that you have to let people be who they are, so long as they aren’t doing harm to others. That’s the trick. Where do we draw the line in the sand? How do we define harm? I have a thought on my ‘About’ page: I’m tolerant of everything except intolerance and that’s really not as confusing as it sounds. There are many more nice, moderate believers than there are fanatics, but they still believe crazy things and it affects how they vote and how they treat others. I can love them, I can get to know them, I can be their friend. I will never be able to be silent about their intolerance. Just like I do not remain silent when I face racism or sexism.

        I fully agree that to be accepted, we must accept, pissed off or not. But how often do pissy people work together? The trouble is I know the dogma. I know it better than most of them do. When they have better morals than the religion, it is because secular morality has had an effect on them. The theology is monolithic. I think that every Christian believes a different version of Christianity, that’s why the monolithic theology bothers me so. If they haven’t fully thought about a problem, they have the default answer of their religion to fall back on. It’s like preloaded software, it has to erased before something new can come in. Most people have it installed before they’re even in Kindergarten. I know scores of Christians who are not bigoted, but it has nothing to do with what Jesus taught. It has to do with what people taught them about Jesus. That’s not the same thing and most churches don’t stop with the nice stuff.

        I will always hold out my hand, I will always be willing to listen and to speak. Experience has taught me that my willingness is usually met with disdain, but I won’t stop. Every time, I will hope – not to change minds, but to discover another way.

      3. One other thought:

        “Of course not all Christians react that way or believe that way, but this is in spite of the theology, not because of it.”

        You speak in terms of “the Theology” as if it were a monolithic idea. One thing I’ve learned over the years, as a Christian and as a former Christian, is that there are as many theologies as there are Christians. And in some cases (not all, but more, I suspect, than we often imagine), acceptance of people of other faiths or none is very much part of that theology, and not in spite of it. It was, in fact, part of my own, before I left the church, although it is arguable that that sort of theology may be a precursor TO leaving the church.

  2. “To my atheist friends: Is it really the “ulterior motive” that worries you when you see a Christian doing good? Or is it that it makes you wonder if the “God-folks” might actually have a leg to stand on?”

    Actually, it doesn’t bother me at all that Christians need their works to be legitimized. It doesn’t bother me at all Christians believe that there must be source for goodness and good works outside of ourselves. The “ulterior motive” that does bother me is the evangelical/fundamentalist insistence that whatever good deeds or blessings they do must be accompanied by an audience for their evangelism. In other words, in order to receive said blessing the recipient must listen to the plan of salvation, like being awarded a free cruise only to find out you have to listen to the timeshare sales pitch.

    On the one hand one might say that if a person is in desperate need and asking for a handout that they should be willing to do a little something in return. On the other hand, when a person refuses to listen or rejects what they’ve heard, does that make them any less in need? My questions about why we want to bless another have less to do with needing some grand cosmic answer than they do with having basic human compassion for no other reason than to help another. Must strings always be attached?

    1. Ruth, thanks for reading and commenting!

      I agree as to the frustration of feeling, as a Christian, the constraints and the subterfuge of contraband evangelism. It’s one of the many things that drew me away from the Christian church. This is an earlier post that I wrote on this very subject:

      https://anglophiletoad.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/what-i-believe-pt-3-dying-to-be-good/

      I hear you: the strings are hard to swallow. But I truly believe there are just as many, if not more, passages (which I still find compelling even in my atheist state) in the Bible that encourage completely altruistic action. So, while a number of Christians may interpret the faith as compulsively evangelistic, it strikes me that this compulsive evangelism isn’t necessarily a core belief of the Christian faith. There are plenty of churches that are barely evangelistic at all; my wife attends one here in Waco. They do good (and I know this, because I have seen it and even participated in it) simply for the sake of the good, and of the people in need of it.

      1. “They do good (and I know this, because I have seen it and even participated in it) simply for the sake of the good, and of the people in need of it.”

        I know a number of Christians who practice good deeds without the strings. I also know some non-religious types who won’t do a good deed without strings of their own. I agree that the Bible encourages doing good for completely altruistic reasons. Jesus’ specific teachings on the matter spring to mind. I don’t think that the strings attached come from a scriptural basis but I do think that it’s an “easy” way to get an audience and attempt to make disciples as they go.

      2. Oh, by all means. Again, it’s one of the biggest beefs I have with “myself-as-Christian.” It does become difficult to separate the act from the tract, if you will, and I think that this detracts from what is, I still think, the beauty of a good portion of the Bible. Plus, it tends to keep Christians from seeing the beauty in the the scriptures of other religions, and the non-religious from seeing the beauty in any of them.

  3. Well, from my own studies I’ve learned that (for the most part) we do good because we are innately empathetic. When we see someone in pain, we see ourselves in pain — that is, unless you are far removed from your natural inclination to empathize.

    “To my atheist friends: Is it really the “ulterior motive” that worries you when you see a Christian doing good? Or is it that it makes you wonder if the “God-folks” might actually have a leg to stand on?”

    I’ve rarely seen a Christian do mission work abroad without the motive to “bring them into the fold”. But I do know Christians who do good without hitting you over the head with the bible.

    No, it’s not the “ulterior motive” that worries me, unless their “ulterior motive” to do good is so they can proselytize and influence legislation that negatively impacts others.

    1. Dear Victoria,

      I’m replying to you here because after nearly a year of reading your blog, this conversation has crystalized my thoughts. Also, Vance provides a safe, thoughtful place to converse.

      In so many ways you are right. Raised a Christian, I also learned to disdain the skeptic. I would not listen, would not assume the best. I did not acknowledge my own brokenness, but only pitied the brokenness of the lost. I was lost. And I did not know what I did not know.

      I was raised by a thoughtful, gentle father and a very religious mother – – perhaps even reminiscent of your partner after his TBI. I am so sorry for your loss and so thankful to see you turn tragedy to good. I think you’ve helped many more people that you even realize.

      This is a beginning, and my blogging adventure is only a year old (the friendship that started it two), but I can only change me and perhaps influence those with similar backgrounds and a tacitly understood backstory.

      I am thankful for skeptical friends. I am sorrowful for a lack of scholarship in the evangelical mind and a lack of willingness to discuss the important issues of life and humanity. So, I’ll do my part to change my own heart first and to better influence the hearts of my sons – – perhaps their generation becoming less bigoted than mine.

      In the words of my friend Russell – –
      Gentleness & Respect,
      Pascal

      1. Dear Pascal,

        I read your reply earlier today but couldn’t respond right away. I was deeply moved by your compassion, kindness and open-mindedness. I was moved to tears. I remember when you subscribed to my blog a while back. I went to your blog and saw that you were a Christian. I read one of your blog posts and had a trigger. It’s not because of what you wrote per say. It’s complicated. I am still dealing with the repercussions of leaving Christianity,(see article 3).

        Nearly every Christian that has subscribed to my blog has been a male fundamentalist. I know because I check every blog that subs to mine. Most of these fundamentalists had blog posts about women submitting. I wasn’t sure what your motive was for subbing, as you have never posted on my blog, to my knowledge, so I really never gave you the benefit of the doubt, and I apologize.

        I feel bad that you felt like my blog wasn’t a safe place for you to share your thoughts, and I can understand your hesitation. But I wished more people like you would post there. I do want to find common ground. I don’t care if people believe in god so long as it doesn’t impinge on the rights of those who chose not to believe.

        I know there are a lot of authentically caring Christians. I was one of them. I have recently moved back to the most religious state in the union after being away for 15 years, and it’s become more evangelical, especially politically, than it was when I left. I have to be guarded. People here need you to believe — to conform.

        Pascal, you have my utmost respect after reading your comment. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts. Thank you for taking the time to comment to me here. I look forward to getting to know you better. 🙂

        Your new friend,

        Victoria

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