Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Whose Fault Is It Anyway?


The last post spawned several comments and most likelysome deep emotional reactions.  As wewere going through these events as a church we went into human mode.  Pastor’s continued dishonesty and power playscaused many in the church to behave in ways that were inconsistent with howChristians ought to behave. As a result there were back hallway whispers,clandestine meetings over how to relieve the church of his services, andorchestrating committees and appointing particular people to carry that out. 

Others dug their heals in and backed up Pastor simplybecause he was Pastor.  They believedthat his position required respect and loyalty regardless of his actions.  No mere lay person should disagree withPastor.  He is the shepherd and the sheepshould just follow.  Pastor is entitledto lead the church as he sees fit and control the finances and direction of thechurch with no questions asked.

Now there were those who behaved in very prayerful,thoughtful ways.  They confronted thoseon both sides about their behavior and confronted Pastor about his bad behavior.  They participated neither in the gossip, northe backbiting and battling that had been raging.  These people still have my utmost respect.   

It may seem from my previous post that, as Exrelaymansaid(I believe tongue-in-cheek) :

“Well, there ya go D’Ma. Pastor’sfault. If you had been pastored by a True Pastor, you would not now be such avile apostate 🙂 “

What I am recording here aremy observations in looking at things from the lens of objectivity, I hope.  While we were in the midst of this that wasnearly impossible.  You see, these eventshad no impact whatsoever on my faith.  I,along with others, truly believed that God was speaking to us.  We prayed, we read our Bibles, we feltimpressed upon by the Holy Spirit.  Nomatter whom you spoke to, whether it was those against the Pastor, for thePastor, or somewhere in between, they all believed they were doing what God wastelling them to. The fact of the matter is we believed, at least some of us,that this brought us closer to God because we had to rely on him.

I have long since given upthe notion that other people’s behavior or attitude should have any bearing onmy Christianity or lack thereof.  I was aTrueBeliever.  As such I knew that allpeople, including myself, were fallen, that we all had a sin nature, and thatpeople would disappoint.  I’ve recantedthat to myself more times than I care to count. God is the only perfect being. Christians behaving badly was just a result of their sin nature.   Icould preach that sermon.

No, it isn’t Pastor’s fault I’msuch a vile apostate now.  Is there afault to be had?  I say I’ve just wokenup to reality, to the fact that things in Christianity don’t add up. I’m notturning my back on faith because someone else didn’t live up to it.  That’s a ridiculous notion.  I’m not saying that there are those who don’tfeel that way, but by and large the people who come here to this blog aren’tthem.  Sure, they have feelings aboutwhat happened when they were Christians, if they ever were.  They have feelings about the way Christianscarry on about their certainty of God even if they were never Christiansthemselves.

What I’m saying is, that inthe cold light of day, when you wake up to reality and figure out that the HolySpirit isn’t acting in the world nobody, really at the heart of it, can be aChristian.  If the true definition isChrist, the God-man, living in you it doesn’t exist. For the most part liarsare still liars, cheaters are still cheaters, and sinners, well…they still sin.Except when you leave religion out of it there’s no such thing as sin.  There’s right and there’s wrong and what’sright and what’s wrong largely gets determined by who it hurts.   Is that depressing?  It can be. Being perfectly honest it was more depressing to me when I thought thatthere was supposed to be someone guiding us all not to do those things and yetwe did them anyway.

I find it easier to swallow whenI see folks the way they really are..  Justpeople.  People making decisions andtaking actions and calling it religion.    


16 thoughts on “Whose Fault Is It Anyway?

  1. I think you and I might be a little different on this issue. I'm not sure it's easier to see people and situations the way they really are. I think some delusions are comforting.For instance, I recently came to understand that I've had a long habit of believing Americans in general are smarter than they are. That was a source of hope for me, and a comfort. But I now recognize it was unrealistic. And — rather than finding it easier to be realistic — I find myself feeling pretty down.Other than that minor difference between us, though, I can really empathize with your post. And I especially like your description of the three ways people responded to the pastor's nonsense. I once saw people fall into the same three groups when an authority figure came under question in a business I once worked for. Maybe it's a universal rule that in those situations some will attack, some will defend, and a few will rise above the passions of the moment to uphold reason and justice.


  2. "I think you and I might be a little different on this issue. I'm not sure it's easier to see people and situations the way they really are. I think some delusions are comforting."I basically was referring to Christianity and religion, because indeed some realities can be very depressing.


  3. After I read your what you had written I could not help but think of how the books in the bible were decided. Can't you just imagine the back door deals being made as they were voting on which books should be in and which ones shouldn't? I think whenever there is someone in power over others there is a chance of dishonesty or back door deals. Thanks again for your great posts. I love reading your blog.


  4. I'll point out explicitly what you had implied with "they all believed they were doing what God was telling them to" that there are Scriptures to support all of those positions."I find it easier to swallow when I see folks the way they really are.. Just people. People making decisions and taking actions and calling it religion."Well put, and I'd have to agree. I think Paul's comment is relevant though, and probably holds a great deal of truth for "Sunday Christians." But when you are on the inside, like you were, when the gritty truth is confronting you on a regular basis, dropping the make-believe hope in favor of a realistic perspective makes it all come into tune with everything you've learned about human behavior. I think Paul even hints at this within his own comment, because he could no longer go on living with the false idea that American's were smarter than they are. At that point, it was more difficult to live with the false perspective than to accept the reality, even though that reality was unsettling in and of itself. It was the lesser of two evils.So it would seem the realm of delusion, while it may be more comfortable, is only available when you keep a safe distance from your delusion. That may be why so many people still believe. ;-)Cerbaz's thought is interesting too. No doubt that there were many human considerations in determining canon.


  5. I was indulging in a bit of whimsy. Still, the experience was certainly not of such nature as to strengthen faith, was it?If today's Christian leader sees fit to lie in a manipulative fashion (for a good cause), why any less so the writers of the foundational documents? Didn't Paul say something about his lie abounding to the glory of God?Then there is the so called 'butterfly effect'. Also recounted in an old poem that traces the effect 'for the want of a nail' all the way up to 'the loss of the kingdom'. We cannot put ourselves in a lab and see how we would have turned out if one small detail in the past had been different.Anyway, this Pastor don't get all the credit. I think perhaps your cranial apparatus deserves a little credit also 🙂


  6. Paul said:"I especially like your description of the three ways people responded to the pastor's nonsense."I should have pointed out that there were people who could be found in all three of these stages at different points. For instance, I began in the camp of "back the Pastor", moved into the level headed stage of confronting people on all sides, then as Pastor became more defiant I found myself in the "let's get him" group. Finding myself very conflicted over all of this, I decided knowing the business of the church was bad for my faith so I backed completely away. I still went to church, but closed my eyes, plugged my ears and sang "la la la, I can't hear you" until it went away. Only even after he left it didn't go away. Years later there's still a rift in a lot of relationships.


  7. cerbaz,Thanks for commenting. I haven't heard from you in a while. Very poignant comment. I can only imagine that there were deals made in the construction of the Bible.==========================================TWF,What makes it easier to swallow for me is the fact that it's a relief to know there isn't really a Holy Spirit living inside all these people. They don't really have some kind of divine connection. It makes it easier to take when I know they are deluding themselves, just like I was. I guess I'm saying I can relate. I'm just sorry they all keep hurting each other and, in Jesus words, murdering each others character, all in his name. It's sad.===============================================@Exrelayman,No it definitely did not strengthen my faith. But moreover, it made me disappointed in myself. I saw my humanity as a weakness and a failure of faith. It didn't cause me to have less faith that there was a God, a Holy Spirit, or a crucified Christ. At the time I felt we were all failing our faith, not our faith failing us. Only now looking back on it can I see the truth of the matter.


  8. Oh, OK, I see what you were meaning D'Ma. You are right, it is so very sad, especially when you have an appreciation for how good it could be.


  9. Oh yeah, TWF, I also meant to comment on this:"I'll point out explicitly what you had implied with "they all believed they were doing what God was telling them to" that there are Scriptures to support all of those positions."Each group was always armed to the teeth with scriptures to back up their position.


  10. Tis passing strange that Pastor's manipulative dishonesty evoked in you a disappointment with yourself. Sounds a bit like Stockholm syndrome.A bit off topic: an interesting examination of 'Luke' (7 pages):http://www.harrington-sites.com/History.htm


  11. I wouldn't exactly call it Stockholm Syndrome. Don't get me wrong, I was still well angry at Pastor's behavior, but at the same time disappointed in some of my reactions to it. I'd like to be able to say I started and stayed in the "few will rise above the passions of the moment to uphold reason and justice", as Paul Sunstone put it. So even though I completely recognize that Pastor was in the wrong, I can see where maybe I was, too. Not in my assessment of the situation(Pastor's liberties went well beyond lying about a song), but in my response to that. I felt as a Christian I should behave a certain way and failed, sometimes miserably. Now I know as a human being I should behave in a certain way, and sometimes still fail miserably, but don't believe I'm relying on some inner being to teach me a better way. I rely on my conscience, which allows me to say I'm only human while saying I'm sorry at the same time.


  12. I am dealing with a situation at work in which one coworker has become a bully and is causing a lot of stress for other coworkers and customers. Reading this, I am glad that we don't have the extra layer of the Holy Spirit and Divine Truth to wade through.However, I no longer have the illusion that God will make everything right in the end and that if I pray hard enough the situation will resolve itself. That was comforting, but in the end, more damaging because failed results would be due to my lack of faith, not collective reasonableness or empathy.


  13. I thought you might be interested in a new blog that I have come across called "respectful atheist". He is very kind and clear about his deconversion. Hope you will take a look.


  14. @prairienymph,I hate drama. That was also part of the reason I backed away completely. In case I haven't mentioned it, I loathe controversy. It may feel less comforting to no longer have that illusion, but ultimately, it's more rewarding to know that you can make decisions based on the greater good(for me at least).==================================== @cerbaz,I would like to check it out. Could you post a link?


  15. D'Ma, I have a link to that blog cerbaz mentioned in my blogroll.


  16. You said: Being perfectly honest it was more depressing to me when I thought that there was supposed to be someone guiding us all not to do those things and yet we did them anyway.

    One could be depressed at the lack of a guide, or get a chuckle from the silliness of the human mind to expect one. When kids see through Santa Claus and realize that it is family that make 'miracles' happen, they either get depressed or excited about themselves being Santa.

    Interesting post — a post-mortem analysis!


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