Friday, January 29, 2010

Throw me a party, I've succeeded at being a failure at life.

I read a comment at another blog about how Christian fundamentalists love failure. And I'm thinking that's an incredibly true statement.

I can't say that they love failure across the board. After all, success for God is a good thing, though even that in that case, the success is entirely attributed to God, and they as people had nothing to do with it. But the success would still glorify God, and glorifying God is good.

But I've often come across ex-fundamentalists describing how they'd pray for something awful to happen to a non-Christian, so that the non-Christian would realize his/her need for salvation. In essence, the fundamentalists are praying for failure.

And how often do we hear Christians saying that the path to salvation is to realize how broken or sinful we all are? To realize that we can't be perfect? To realize how much we fail at being perfect? In fact, failure is quite possibly the most perfect thing to experience, because it shows you just how wretched you are, and that's the first step towards salvation.

Isn't the best way to accomplish this realization ... failure?

Or how often have we heard a fundamentalist describe how wretched his/her life was before s/he found Christ? How often have we heard stories of fundamentalists who felt they lacked something because their pre-Christ story wasn't filled with all these failures?

In a lot of ways, isn't Christian fundamentalist a religion that celebrates failure and chastises success? In what other context would this be considered acceptable behavior? Can you imagine a parent telling a child who loves music "I'm really praying that you fail at your piano recital so that you realize how horrible you are." Can you imagine telling someone "I really hope that you fail at your marriage so you can realize just how not-perfect you are."

If a Christian fundamentalist was given a choice to see a non-Christian friend succeed at something that would make him/her incredibly happy and satisfied and yet remain unsaved, or see the non-Christian fail to the level of a nuclear holocaust on the off-chance that the non-Christian might be saved -- for the failure has a better chance of a salvation outcome than the success path -- wouldn't the fundamentalist hope for failure? To which I ask again -- in what other circumstance is this considered acceptable behavior?

14 comments:

atimetorend said...

I sometimes wonder if people are praying that way for me, to fall flat on my face if I do not return to a robust Christian faith. Nobody has said that to me, though I know of others who have heard that kind of statement directly from friends.

"But the success would still glorify God, and glorifying God is good."

I think part of the idea plays out that if Jesus dying on the cross in the ultimate defining work of God on the earth, and the reason he did that was to pay for our sins, they our sins are ultimately bound to the greatest way God shows his love for us. Or something like that.

It does create a grim situation for living life as you point out. People try not to dwell on the negative, but then when they find themselves doing so they find theological reasons keep doing it. It is one of the reasons I left Evangelicalism.

Andrew said...

atimetorend - O yes... they are praying for that very thing. :)

OSS- great article. It is not til you get outside of that thinking that you see how awful a view of God it is. Munchausen by proxy is practically their view of God.

Bruce said...

Sure. you spend your whole life being told up is down.

OneSmallStep said...

Atimetorend,

**I sometimes wonder if people are praying that way for me, to fall flat on my face if I do not return to a robust Christian faith.**

I do have evangelical friends who I know are praying for my salvation. Now I'm wondering if they're praying for certain ways for that salvation to be achieved -- such as falling flat on my face.

Of course, that means that they're praying for God to do something horrible to me, so that I will realize how horrible I personally am, and yet somehow turn to the very entity that caused the horrible thing in the first place, only this entity somehow loves me.

Right.

OneSmallStep said...

Andrew,

Thank you. :) Though I've never been "inside" the thinking in the first place. I just have friends that really, really, really want me on the inside, and so feel like I've been inside by proxy or something.

But it's nice to know fundamentalists care enough to wish horrible things on me.

OneSmallStep said...

Bruce,

**you spend your whole life being told up is down.**

Which explains why debates often seem to go nowhere with fundamentalists.

Sarge said...

I have relatives and people I know who have prayed that some tragedy befall me that I may be "brought to my knees" and have some sort of a "come to jesus' moment.

Last few years they thought they've had me and their prayers were answered. Run down by a psycho in a jeep, cancer, several painful surgeries, son wounded at Falujah... and yet, here I sit, saying, "That's life". Drives 'em bugshit.

They have a connundrum, though: they aren't clear on whether I'm a true "apostate" or not.
See, I haven't believed in any deity, ever. Made up my mind pretty much at age five. Was baptised, though, because my parents thought it was "a good idea". When you are a child and your parents think something is a "good idea" you generally at least go through the motions.

Sooo...it's a question of "legality", I guess, in their minds.

Some say yhat since I pro forma "accepted" (said the words, got dunked) then my later saying I don't believe makes me an apostate and nothing they can do will "help". I'm doomed. Doooomed, I tell you!

Others say that I didn't know the signifigance, so this ritual "didn't take", there's still "Hope" so bring on the horror, but they will use their ill-wishing for "good".

My take is, don't people have better things to do with their time??!!

the chaplain said...

Good post. And another good, pertinent story from Sarge. As for the question of whether these people have better things to do with their time, alas, they do, but they don't know it. Very sad, actually.

OneSmallStep said...

Sarge,

Have you ever pointed out the discrepancy with them asking God to show you how much He loves you by making something awful happen to you? How the two ideas don't mesh? I'm just wondering what their response is to that.

The other thing is, horrible things happen to everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike. If "coming to Jesus" doesn't prevent the bad things from happening, why would a Christian feel that the bad thing would act as some sort of catalyst?

OneSmallStep said...

Chaplain,

**As for the question of whether these people have better things to do with their time**

Wouldn't they argue that they're using their time to do the best thing possible, though? Try and get the heathens saved?

Sarge said...

OSS, I suffer from chronic pain, and the headache I get listening to them chop logic is somewhat more than I can usually take. I have enough as it is, can't use any extra in my business. ;-/

Plus they put things in these drawers, one thing doesn't connect to another. As when my son was wounded...

A couple of relatives told my mother that this was the sign they were waiting for. It was the answer to their prayers on my behalf.

I actually talked to them about it (they hadn't specifically targetted my son, just wanted something horrible in my life... and the one thought it was 'gravy' because she didn't approve of my son's interacial marriage) but it was like shovelling motor oil.

I told them I didn't believe for a minute that their prayers had a thing to do with it, but THEY did. Did they think of his wife and children and the effect on them? Didi they think about the effect on his mother? The life-long effect this had on him?

Actually, no, they did not. Wasn't their concern, in fact, if I'd "just have openned (my) heart" this wouldn't have happened. It was all MY fault according to them.

So, you see why I don't discuss it with the faithful. No point.

I have on occasion pointed out to people that I'm very glad that prayer is bunk. And they think so, too, really, the mantra in the "lord's prayer" is telling: "forgive us...as we forgive those who..." would they actually say such a thing to the deity they worshipped if they believed it would come true?

I keep thinking that if prayer for or against something was a working phenomenon, it would be like every ten year old in the world was given a fifth of whiskey, a vial methamphetamine, an M 16, and the keys to a HUMMV and told "help yourself and have a good time".

I'm very relieved that it's all a crock.

OneSmallStep said...

Sarge,

**Actually, no, they did not. Wasn't their concern, in fact, if I'd "just have openned (my) heart" this wouldn't have happened. It was all MY fault according to them.**

My apologies for the label I"m about to say here, but this sounds too close to psychopathic behavior to me -- the absolute lack of empathy, or consideration for another's pain. Then, of course, they blame the victim.

Sarge said...

Nuthin' to forgive, you're absolutly correct.

It's the old "see what you made happen because..." thing.

And they were glad this happened t someone who is their fleah and blood and never did a thing to them.

the chaplain said...

Wouldn't they argue that they're using their time to do the best thing possible, though? Try and get the heathens saved?
You're probably correct, but so am I. From my point of view, trying to save alleged heathens from the imaginary wrath of an imaginary god is a colossal waste of time.