Thursday, March 06, 2008

Testify


As I was picking weeds in the front yard the other day, a couple of nattily dressed people approached me and asked if I'd like to attend a meeting to talk about Jesus. I politely declined, not wanting to offend or to start a huge religious discussion. But the man wouldn't leave it at that and felt compelled to say, "So, you're not a Christian?" in a condescending tone. At that point, the gloves were off, and I lit into him a little bit, saying that my beliefs should not be of his concern. Seeing my consternation, he backed off and apologized for implying anything. It was obvious he wasn't going to get anywhere with me and he bid me good day. Perhaps, I overreacted. But I think not. Should each of us feel compelled to force our beliefs on others or compel others to do the same? Is talking about Jesus or testifying without being asked to do so considering forcing?

That got me thinking of the religious concept of "testifying"? To me, it seems eerily similar to one of the 12 steps (which in and of itself is already religious-based). The one about apologizing to those we have hurt. Could religion just be some 2,000 year old perversion of pop psychology? By going around and "spreading the word", are people hoping to heal themselves and others like you would in AA? I posed the same question to my wife ... a Christian, mind you. She's heard my rants before and wasn't offended. She countered that testifying is more about just letting people know that Jesus is there for them if they need him. So I said, "So, it's like advertising." -- "Act now and as an added bonus you will get this lovely afterlife!". Testifying is just Dr. Phil mixed with ginsu knifes. I think she failed to see the humor. Oh well.

In religion, testimony generally involves an inward belief or outward profession of faith or of personal religious experience.

Christians in general use the term "testify" or "to give your testimony" to mean "the story of how you became a Christian" (or less commonly it may refer to a specific event in a Christian's life in which God has done something deemed particularly worth sharing). Christians often give their testimony at their own baptism or at evangelistic events, where non-Christians are able to hear what God has done in their lives ... (from Wikipedia)

I'm not trying to be profane or step on anyone's toes. I respect people to have what religious beliefs they choose. But that's part of my point in saying something - It's OK to have your own views, but your compulsion to share them is infringing on other people's views. One could argue that by discussing my religious views on a blog, I'm doing the same. But people come to my blog by choice. I wasn't making a choice to be preached to by merely being in my own front yard.

You may say that testifying is a tenet of your religion and you have to do it. That's not my problem. Any religion that considers it a requirement to spread itself out by proselytizing is not a religion ... it's a virus. A great idea should be self-evident. People aren't just waiting around for someone to come and "save" them.

And you stare at me
In your jesus christ pose
Arms held out
Like you've been carrying a load
And you swear to me
You don't want to be my slave
But you're staring at me
Like I need to be saved ...

Jesus Christ Pose by Soundgarden

5 comments:

CyberKitten said...

'Testimony' bemuses me.......

wunelle said...

I despise evangelism. And so does everyone else, unless the evangelizing is for their own viewpoint. Few people in this mythology-laden country would be polite to me if I went evangelizing door-to-door about the harmful folly of people's religious views.

I'm simply not able to cut people some slack because the snake oil they're selling is labeled "religion." Instead of just assuming I'll cede to them the baseline of mythological underpinning, they have to be able to support these views just as they would themselves require in court or in a science lab.

And they can't.

Laura said...

Blogger ate my homework...

Ok, let's try this again.

Evangelism, in our supposedly "multicultural" society is the epitome of arrogance. First, assume that you have the TRUTH. Second, assume others need you to tell them your TRUTH. Third, assume that anyone who doesn't have your TRUTH, wants it.

I also think there's a guilt involved. People are brainwashed into thinking that anyone who isn't saved will burn in eternal damnation and that if YOU DON'T SAVE THEM then it's YOUR fault. And that's where you get the platitudes like "I'll pray for your soul" -- they feel personally responsible if they can't save you.

You know what I say? That's THEIR problem, not mine.

I won't go around telling everyone what to believe. But then again, I can accept the fact that different belief forms, including atheism, are VALID. For them, there is only one true way.

Jesus saves souls... and then turns them in for valuable cash prizes.

Great White Bear, said...

Even when I was a Christian, I was always put off by "testimonies", or most other means of proslytising. I always thought that your life should be a testimony.

Part of what turned me off was that virtually nobody I knew had a life that was. And worse, didn't have a clue that their life wasn't. And not only didn't seem to have a clue as to what Christ actually taught. And weren't real interested in finding out. Seemed the most "Christian" people I knew were athiests.

changing subject... nterested to hear your reaction to Geraldine Ferarro's remarks about Obama, and to the whole Spitzer mess

dbackdad said...

GWB ... the original GWB!! Good to hear from you. Hope you are well.

Ferraro - I'd heard her a few days ago on NPR before she said the controversial remarks and she was kinda surly even then. I think she's just trying to get some press. She's been out of the news for awhile and figures this will get her noticed. Mission accomplished.

Spitzer - All I can say Eliot ... dumb, dumb, dumb. Whenever someone does something so boneheaded when they know they are in the public eye, they deserve what they get. It's a shame because he'd done some useful things as A.G. of New York, but not so much as governor.