Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Time for Some Religion

I just posted a long message and it got deleted so here is round 2...

I am agnostic. I usually believe in a higher power, but that higher power could be an alien race that is more intelligent, or it could be a God. I really don't know. I do not think this makes me a bad person because I would like to think if there is a hell (which I don't believe in) God (the Christian God versus Allah, or Jewish God, or Greek gods, or any other gods) would judge me based on my actions rather than faith in Jesus (not that my actions are anything great, but there a lot more plentiful than my faith in Jesus as God's son [which is non-existent]. Africa is really religious, so I try to avoid all discussion of religion...

However, I met a reverend when I got lost going to school. He walked me home because he also lives in Laro. He told me about his orphanage and told me to visit... Today I did just that.

I was kind of terrified because I had no idea what kind of Christian he was. I decided to go because I am only in this experience once (and I can always bite my tongue if things turned towards the controversial). I say I am Christian here because here you are either Christian or Muslim, and anything else usually turns into a long discussion filled with misinterpretations. So, today I told the Reverend I was Christian. I let him lead discussion so I could see what I could and could not say...

It turns out I could say a lot. I told him I am a Christian but I question my faith a lot. I told him I do not believe I have the power to judge, and he agreed. He does not believe in stigmatizing HIV/AIDS like most of the villagers here, he believes in family planning, he believes he does not have the power to judge... only God does. I was scared his orphanage was going to be a school for judgemental Christians, but it is not. They believe in love and charity and it is refreshing.

He took me to their gardens and I saw where they grow food for the children. On the walk back, discussion got real.

Ready for the kicker

He wants me to be a minister for RockLife... his evangelical christian ministry. He wants me to spread the word. I told him I am not evangelical and that certain Evangelicals in the US have a bad name for condemning people rather than loving their neighbors. He said that he was sorry the US has ruined the meaning of Christ for me, and that he just wants me to be the American "ambassador" to his orphanage. He told me I was blessed and that my presence is God. He also told me it was God who introduced us and that God will take me to do big things. I was a little uncomfortable with hearing this, so I nodded my head and smiled. I told him I would think about it since I am still in college. He offered me and any friends a place to stay in a Ministry house whenever I came back. He told me I could travel Tanzania and Kenya with him... He also spoke of marriage with me and I am not sure where he was going with that so I told him I don't think of marriage because I am too young... he laughed and gave me a high five so I think we are okay.

He and I spoke of how the Catholic church condemns the use of condoms and contraceptives (The use of condoms is now sort of okay in Africa according the Pope). He got saddened by this and said that is not Jesus' message to condemn people for such actions. We spoke of certain religious groups that use religion as an excuse to act on their personal biases or prejudices. He said any Christian that judges is not a true Christian because they are ignoring Christ's word.

I talked to him about my beliefs on how damaging NGOs can be when they do not work with the government. He totally agreed and he even semi works with hte government (he is a registered NGO with the Ugandan gov't). I told him I know the government is corrupt and he cannot work with them until the corruption is gone, but that part of an education is teaching children how to be mindful and active participants in their government. That is the only way the corruption will end. He agreed and told me I could work with the students on this.

He says he doesn't believe in stigmatizing HIV, he doesn't believe in judging unwed pregnancy, he doesn't judge a lot of things that I often tie evangelicals to judging. However, although he communicates with Muslims, he does not like them. He thought Obama was one, and although he likes Obama, he did not like that. He also hates the homosexuals. He thinks they are wrong and are going to hell. He does not believe they should be killed, though... which is a positive.

It is these contradictions (I don't judge, but I do judge any non-Christian and homosexuals), that make me loose faith in religion. At the same time... his religion is inspiring him to help 20 children. What if one of them wants to be Muslim, or atheist, or even worse... gay. Would he kick them out? I don't know. I want to help with his orphanage because he is offering so much freedom with it... but how can I when I don't believe in Christ and I don't fully believe in the message the organization is founded on?

1 comment:

  1. I like to think we're all still learning which means something we are sure of today we may not be so sure about tomorrow, next year, etc. Even the Catholic Church is evolving. Peter and Paul I believe argued about the importance of circumcision - irrelevant today. What has never changed however is the power of love and the delight of God when we really love one another as God loves us and the world. Now I believe Jesus reflected that kind of love in real life - in a way that I can understand and try to emulate. For me that's what it means to be Christian.