Friday, December 02, 2016

Should You Base Your Opinion Of A System of Beliefs Solely on the Behavior of Its Adherents?

No.

Yesterday, Return of Kings writer Donovan Sharpe posted A Redpill Perspective on the Existence of God. While the article is decent, he brings up the usual points about how the behavior of Christians turns people off from Christianity. I've known several of these people, and I guess when I was younger, I too refused to give any consideration to Christianity based on the actions and behaviors of Christians.

Even today, as a Christian myself, I am sometimes appalled, turned off, disgusted, ashamed, and many other negative emotions by the ways other Christians act and talk. When I was going through my divorce back in 2013, evangelical Christians were my LEAST favorite people to talk to. I eventually gave up mentioning it around them, except for some really close Christian brothers and friends who knew me for a long time and were familiar with my situation. I eventually got a little sarcastic and almost abusive in my responses to the others.

"You need to FIGHT for your marriage!" - Oh, where were you 5 years ago, you would have made all the difference.

"Have you considered praying?" After realizing that telling them I'd been praying and fasting for years over it had no effect (because obviously, if I had been praying, the divorce never would have happened), I eventually started responding "No shit! I never even thought of that!"

Then there was the inevitable advice about the various legal strategies I should follow, especially regarding custody. Most of it would have required tens of thousands of dollars as well as being able to work from home 100% of the time. I finally just started asking them "How much money are you willing to contribute?" They'd shut up and walk away at that point.

This is where I came up with my maxim that "Advice from other people is worth exactly as much time, effort, and/or money as they're willing to contribute to help you follow it and hold you accountable."

I'm sure they all meant well, but this is exactly the kind of thing Sharpe mentions in his ROK article. You mom dies. And the Christians around you all say "I guess she's in a better place now! It's God's will!" And all this does is piss you off. How do they NOT know this? Are they trying to piss you off?

Christians who have not faced trial, adversity, and loss are pretty much useless to you. Avoid them.

Back to my original question, should you base your entire opinion and acceptance of Christianity on the behavior of 21st century American Churchians?

No.

Let's use one of my favorite examples: Agile. If you work in or around IT, you've probably heard of Agile. The very word makes me cringe.

I know intellectually what Agile is. Infogalactic defines Agile as:

Agile Software Development is a set of software development methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing,[1] cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continuous improvement, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

If only. Based only on my own experience, Agile is a meaningless buzzword that, depending on context, can mean:

1) No planning
2) No documentation
3) Whatever the speaker wants it to mean at the time.

Two jobs ago, I was a Systems Engineering manager. I was in a meeting with my engineers and people from the Applications group. Our job was to build the server VMs, the network infrastructure, and allocate space on the Enterprise SQL cluster to host the program and associated database they were building.

I asked them what specs we should build the servers to for the development phase. The answer I got back was "We don't know. We're using Agile to build the program."

I replied "You still have to have an idea of what you're building toward. We can't just start with a quarter core of a processor and 2MB RAM and build from there. What target are we shooting at? We can always scale later, but we need to know where to start with the infrastructure."

I finally told my engineers to just use the specs from the last project. These guys were so damned intent on using "Agile" that we couldn't get an answer out of them.

Based only on my experience with Agile, I should reject it and consider all Agile adherents to be insane and/or stupid.

Or, I can go back to my education, I can read about Agile, I can research Agile related projects that were successful, and I can practice Agile the way it was intended in those cases where it is the appropriate tool to use.

Similar to Christianity. You can reject it based solely on those Christians you encounter, or you can:

1) Read the original documents (The Bible), the Didache, etc,
2) Study the early adherents - the 12 Apostles, the early fathers, Martin Luther, etc
3) Study this history of the Church (in 2000 years, it's been through many phases, trials, and parts of the world. Did you know there was a Bishop in China in the 9th century? Probably not, because you don't know shit about church history)

Then you can accept or reject it from an actual, informed perspective.
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