The above picture comes from the Rally to Restore Fear and/or Sanity. I love it. A lot.
That piece of oaktag captures a lot of my frustration with my faith. I, quite literally, and if you've seen me discuss religion, you've actually seen me do it, facepalm upon seeing Christians in large numbers. There's a reason I've avoided Christian rallies and concerts for about 4 or 5 years now. I have lost faith in the ability of a large group to think rationally and thoroughly, the larger the group, the dumber the words. Now don't get me wrong. This isn't a phenomenon limited to the religiously affiliated like Christians and Muslims. Atheists and members of political parties exhibit similar poor thinking and behaviour as well. I don't talk about those as much because I don't identify as strongly with them. I have no reason to talk about them. At heart, I don't see myself as a defender of the faith against non-believers. Looking back, reformation has always been a greater value to me than propogation. I am a Christian who's concerned about how absolutely, for lack of a more precise word, fucked up the Christian system has become.
Life is hard.
I never expected an easy life, haven't asked for one as an adult, but I didn't expect that a great deal of my spiritual struggle would be unlearning my Christian education. First and foremost, stands the injunction against seeing, knowing. Ostensibly the struggle lies with self-identifying Christians who aren't afraid to share their beliefs, but possess the sad distinction of being able to fit all their beliefs onto a sign. "But that would violate the amendment protecting Freedom of Speech!" "Well, you wouldn't need Freedom of Speech if you let Jesus speak for you." I think I could overcome that on my own. That bothers me but ready solutions exist.
The faith's foundation, the Bible, proves to be more painful by far. Beginning with the tree in the garden, the cleft in the rock where Moses was hid, on to the holy of holies in the Tabernacle and later the veil in the Temple, and finally the scattered verses throughout the psalms and the Pauline epistles that declare the unknowable and the what-should-not-be-known trouble me deeply. There seems to be an injunction against exploration and learning. Now to be clear, it's not exploration of the physical sciences, origins, or anything like that. These are prohibitions against learning about God. But remember the context. These restrictions are the signs reading "No swimming here. Falling rock zone." Our knowledge of God outside the insulation of grace proves fatal.
Remembering that is hard.
Especially when combined with the culture of American Christianity. "You're a philosophy major? Why would you study something so anti-Gospel?" "Stanley, you think way too much. Just let it be, man." "Does the difference really matter, Stan? If we really had it wrong, wouldn't someone have said so already?" The specific boundaries that God set on knowledge were set on knowledge of him, the kindness of a holy God. We may as well complain about safety warnings on a nuclear reactor as complain about the warnings he gives of himself. Yet, throughout history so much of Christendom has misused these prohibitions and leveled them against learning and thinking. Your thoughts should not question the conclusions of authority, no matter how ridiculous a position is taken.
That's the fear common to large groups, no matter what that group believes. So the current question I've been ruminating can be phrased thus: "If groups hinder our search for truth, inhibit the desire to see, then how may one find fellowship and grow?"