Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
Warning: This blog post contains many questions and few answers. If you're here looking for answers, well... I'm so sorry. I wish I had them too.
Over the past couple of years, I have spent a fair amount of time travelling in, learning about, and generally hanging around South America. Over the course of my travels, I have participated in many discussions about religion, and with every one I have become more and more aware that, due to the history and religious climate these topics are even more fraught with misunderstanding than I am used to. Any discussion of God, Jesus, the bible, or any other related subject is often, in peoples' minds, associated with the conquest and colonization by the Spaniards who, upon arrival, raped, pillaged, and destroyed most everywhere they went. In the modern day, some see God, the bible, and the church as instruments of oppression to be wielded against any woman who dares to disobey her husband or to rebel against beatings, infidelity, or inequality. Certainly many people, regardless of whether or not they profess some religion, are willing to try to put aside their prejudices and listen; Many others are so exhausted by the endless abominations committed in the name of christianity that any mention of God is the end of any useful discussion.
I do not wish do be associated with the world view that drove the Spanish conquest, so I have taken to avoiding the topic entirely. If pressed, I usually provide a long explanation of my religious beliefs, trying to distinguish myself as much as possible from the catholic church. Regardless of the beliefs of the other person, this is often met with, "Oh... so you're an athiest?"
Truth be told, I would rather pass for an athiest than be thought believe in a god that sent a horde of violent criminals to destroy the (none so estimable) Inca empire. I sympathize far more with those who, like me, choose to reject the religion that has been passed off as christianity for hundreds of years. That leaves me at a loss for names to hold even the most basic of conversations about incredibly important subjects. How does one talk about the One True Christ, who leads us from, and commands us to go from, darkeness and wickedness into peace and righteousness... when the very words "Christ", "God", etc. are so strongly bound up with hundreds of years of darkness and wickedness? How can one talk about the central tennet of the Quaker faith, that we are commanded to follow Christ whithersoever he leads us, if we resort to vague metaphysical terms such as "The Light", "The Spirit", etc? I feel stumped. Most of all, I feel stumped because avoiding these subjects is hardly any better than the other two choices. These, for me, are very hard questions. I suspect that good answers simply do not exist.
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