2015: Advent Religion: In The World, But Not Of It

by on December 23, 2015

As I touched on when discussing music, we lived in something of a culture bubble. It wasn’t nearly as extreme as some Christian sects; we didn’t homeschool, we didn’t ban popular media (though I was banned from watching Buffy, because it was about demons, a rule I bitterly resented and put effort into breaking). We worked in normal jobs, watched sports, read mainstream books and newspapers and generally were part of normal British culture. Most of the constraints on what you could acknowledge liking were not religious, but class-based.

But somehow, despite watching the evening news and the primetime dramas, we disbelieved in mainstream culture. We didn’t believe that people were really unlike us, or if they were,t hat they were anything other than knowingly and defiantly sinful. Gay people were obviously a thing that you heard about, but they weren’t really real. Nobody was really unattracted to the opposite sex, they were just rebelling against what was good and proper. It was a lifestyle choice and you shouldn’t let your kids hang around with those kinds of people in case they got led astray.

The same with anyone not following our particular norms with regard to straight relationships. Unmarried people having sex knew they were sinning, but they were rebelling against God. Anyone not following our particular branch of the faith, atheists and Muslims and Hindus and Catholics alike, were, sometimes, maybe, tragically deceived, but most likely if they knew what Christians believed and didn’t agree with us they were just lying. They knew we were right, but they were refusing to admit it and let God in. In the case of the Jews this was slightly nuanced because the impression I got – I don’t think I ever heard a sermon on the matter but the Jews came up a lot because we preached from the Old Testament a lot – was that the Jews didn’t have to be converted to Christianity because the old covenant still held good. God doesn’t break his promises, so the Jews could still be saved by following God the Jewish way. Judaism was kind of noble and sad.

Everyone else was just ignorant or wicked, though. We genuinely thought that if people heard the Good News they would be struck with the self-evident truth of our theology. If they converted it was because they were honest enough to admit to God that they had been wrong. If they refused, it was about stubborn pride and most of them were probably beyond help.

The world outside was a kind of illusion. It looked like people thought differently to us, but that wasn’t true. The media exaggerated and scandalised. Anyone on the news who didn’t seem to think like us was an exception. Our truths were universal truths, accessible to everyone.

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