break up with Jesus

March 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm 13 comments

Looking back it was hard to distinguish from a kind of relationship with myself. I never actually heard a voice with my ears, just as I never saw my invisible friend with my eyes. I am trying not to caricature the situation, just to see it clearly.

From an interesting article, “Jesus and me broke up*

I can echo the sentiments of losing belief in a relationship with Jesus the way the author describes. As such it is something of a critique of modern evangelical Christianity. In a similar way to how people can view Jesus as a mirror of themselves, people can experience a relationship with Jesus which is actually a relationship with themselves. Even within evangelicalism you will hear warnings of “creating God in our own image,” meaning understanding God as who we want him to be rather than, “who he really is.”

The author goes on to describe his experience with a more “liturgical” faith, alluding to a different kind of direction for followers of Jesus (“liturgy” meaning “a standardized order of events observed during a religious service, be it a sacramental service or a service of public prayer.” per Wikipedia).

I’ll admit to finding the latter kind of relationship far more attractive than the former. I often read more liturgical Christians (eg., Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal), stating that evangelicals have lost something by leaving liturgy behind. I think evangelicals are trying to strip away what they see as meaningless and empty tradition, but some will question what is left at that point.

HT: Ben Myers

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Entry filed under: Christianity, evangelicalism.

the ghost of bobby dunbar epigenetics made me sinful

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Temaskian  |  March 6, 2010 at 12:55 am

    When I was still a Christian, Jesus was not just a ‘mirror of myself’, but also a mirror of how people around me related to me.

    I think if people had loving fathers, they would imagine Jesus / God as being very loving, and so on.

    Regarding liturg:, even evangelicals have a form of it during their Sunday Services, albeit it’s a diluted one, lacking in sacredness. Even the most de-institutionalized churches tend to have some form of liturgy in the end, despite their best efforts to avoid it. It’s an essential component of religions.

  • 2. atimetorend  |  March 6, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Hi Temaskian, that’s a good point, and diluted is a good word to describe it.

  • 3. Clergy Guy  |  March 6, 2010 at 8:26 am

    One of my greatest disappointments was that I was not ever going to feel a mystical presence or speak in tongues. And I doubt that it’s legitmate for those who claim those gifts, although I do not doubt their sincerity.

  • 4. Laughing Boy  |  March 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

    This may be a fair critique of popular American evangelicalism, but does it have any force against biblical Christianity? Having a “relationship with Jesus” is simply jargon.

    I concur with the point about the pop-evangelical devaluing of liturgy. It goes hand in hand with the “bringing down” of the Kingdom of God into our world where our petty problems are of highest priority and God exists to make our lives more fulfilling (on our terms). The other-worldness of a more proper liturgy serves to remind us that our problems, our lives, our entire universe, is an effect of a holy God, and that we need to align ourselves with Him, not the other way around.

    On the other hand I think liturgy is making a come-back in some circles. Even then it seems to be for it’s own sake, but perhaps it’s a step in the right direction, a recognition of the longing for higher things.

  • 5. Bruce  |  March 6, 2010 at 9:23 am

    We tend to create our gods in our own image. It is human nature. That’s how we “relate” to our gods.
    SO, instead of one Jesus there is millions of Jesus’s.

    Though I am definitely on the outside looking in when it comes to Christianity, I still enjoy liturgical worship. Seems so focused. Has a sense of depth that is missing in most Evangelical Churches.

    Bruce

  • 6. Kansas Bob  |  March 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    But aren’t you glad that the breakup is always one-sided? We know that Jesus doesn’t breakup with us :)

    LOL – you just knew that somebody had to say it!

  • 7. atimetorend  |  March 7, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Laughing Boy: I agree it is a critique of popular American evangelicalism. But it is a significant criticism considering the high proportion of American Christianity that is this popular evangelicalism. Also many of those practicing religion that way are striving as best they can to practice “biblical Christianity” and believe they are doing so.

    Bruce, me too: “Though I am definitely on the outside looking in when it comes to Christianity, I still enjoy liturgical worship. Seems so focused. Has a sense of depth that is missing in most Evangelical Churches.

    Thanks Bob, actually I hadn’t thought of that, but yeah, have heard that before. :^)

  • 8. The Wise Fool  |  March 7, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I have the same type of longing or attraction to the liturgical services. I think in part the rituals are like a kind of meditation, focusing the mind and shutting of the clutter for awhile. Plus, there is a sense of power, unity, and belonging when everyone in the congregation performs the same action, such as saying the Lord’s Prayer.

    To me, much of the other modern worship seems too much like religi-tainment.

  • 9. Lorena  |  March 8, 2010 at 12:58 am

    How interesting! A relationship with oneself. That makes sense. So, if I dislike myself majorly, my relationship with Jesus will be a rocky one. That was the case with me.

    Narcissists must have an easy time with the Jesus of their creation.

  • 10. Temaskian  |  March 8, 2010 at 1:39 am

    “Narcissists must have an easy time with the Jesus of their creation.”

    Come to think of it, I think that is so true! That would explain so much…

  • 11. Boz  |  March 8, 2010 at 3:41 am

    I think evangelicals are trying to strip away what they see as meaningless and empty tradition[liturgy], but some will question what is left at that point.

    That’s a very stinging criticism!

    I like it.

  • 12. The Woeful Budgie  |  March 8, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    That’s kind of how I’ve thought of my deconversion—as a break-up. It’s often the short version of what I tell people, too. Yeah, we tried to stay friends, but…it just didn’t work out.

    On that note, I recently read Greta Christina’s review (warning: Greta’s sidebar ads are sometimes NSFW) of David Bazan’s latest album Curse Your Branches, which she describes as, essentially, a breakup album addressed to God. I haven’t heard any of it yet, but judging by snippets of lyrics I’ve seen, it looks promising.

    How interesting! A relationship with oneself. That makes sense. So, if I dislike myself majorly, my relationship with Jesus will be a rocky one. That was the case with me.

    Me too, Lorena. I often wonder if I didn’t focus too narrowly on the nasty, hateful stuff in the Bible because I didn’t like myself very much…or whether my husband is able to gloss over it (while still insisting that he “believes the Bible”) and cotton on to the positive messages because of his general optimism. (Of course, whether I focused too narrowly or not doesn’t change the fact that it’s still there. No matter how positively I tried to view God, the bad stuff was still there behind it. I suppose that’s what got me in the end.)

  • 13. atimetorend  |  March 9, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Clergy Guy, I definitely felt that mystical presence, but it went away so slowly that it wasn’t something I missed, more perhaps that I felt guilty that I was no longer experiencing it. I won’t discuss speaking in tongues because it is kind of embarrassing, so I don’t think that should be a disappointment!

    Boz, I meant that stinging criticism to left to the discresion of the reader, but yeah, I would level that criticism agains contemporary evangelicalism.

    TWB, Bazan sounds very interesting. And I think you and Lorena are right in the way you are looking at God and self. I struggled for a long time with doubting God’s existence. My wife never has, but struggles with doubting God’s goodness. Both those outlooks I think are likely connected to how we grew up, what kind of parents we have.

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