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Preaching Or Teaching?


JenellYB
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The above was posted by someone among my FB friends this morning, and I put it up here for purpose of demonstration, just an example, of something that has become an increasingly difficult matter to deal with within my worldview and personal beliefs system. Things like this are very popular, everbody loves them, they get passed around a lot, and, the part that has really begun to become a problem for me, are sure to flow with the abundance and force of an avalanche upon anyone actually suffering tragedy, loss, grief, pain, difficult and even desperate circumstances of any kind,

 

My "problem" with them has come from:

* how they are always presented, both grammatically and psychologically, in second or third person form, directed toward or about another,

*how they most often effectively dismiss or deny recognition and acknowledgement of the real experience and feelings of one actually experiencing something diffiucult, even terrible and grievous,

*how often the immediately preceeding seems the foundation, mechanism, and justification for the one directing it toward another relieving themselves of any actual personal experience of real empathy or compassion for another in what they may be going through, any sense of need for further consideration of that person's situation of efforts to deal with it, or responsibiity in any actual response toward trying to help that person or genuinely help carry, releive, their burden.

 

It facilitates the attitude of "offerred something", a platitude, that makes them feel good, but which them allows them to hurry on down the road to Jericho. More uncomfortably, I find myself having to dig around within myself and my own responses to other's difficulties, sometimes, that might be of the same nature.

 

Jenell

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This represents one of several theodicies which are expressed in the Bible. I don't like it but it is part of the struggle with "bad things happen to good people" dilemma. It is comforting and should NEVER be said to someone you don't know really really really well - well enough to know what their theodicy is.

 

Dutch

Edited by glintofpewter
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George, I must have not made it clear...I have no problem with someone finding comfort in something like this..for THEMSELVES...I often have myself.

BUT, my problem is with them being addressed 2nd person, TO someone else, and in particular, someone that may be in the immediate grief, even shock, of a terrible situation, loss, even trauma. Such as expressed in these things may be 'comforting' as we might come to them in the process of grief and recovery, my objection in addressing them to someome in real distress, fresh raw grief.

 

to me it seems a kind of, oh, ok...here, get over it....to someone who may not have even processed their loss yet. I heard these kinds of things being offered to a family recently within the first DAY after having lost their young child in a sudden tragic accident. They may be ready for such things at some later time, when they come to that stage. but I think it cruel for others, even if unthinkingly, presenting to someone like that.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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BUT, my problem is with them being addressed 2nd person, TO someone else, and in particular, someone that may be in the immediate grief, even shock, of a terrible situation, loss, even trauma. Such as expressed in these things may be 'comforting' as we might come to them in the process of grief and recovery, my objection in addressing them to someome in real distress, fresh raw grief.

 

Frankly, I just don't find this so objectionable unless it were sent directly to someone who the sender knows is an atheist.

 

Also, I suspect the 2nd person in this is really an informal 3rd person indefinite pronoun unless it was sent to a specific person who is grieving. (Often in informal speech, 'one' and 'oneself' is replaced by 'you' or 'yourself').

 

George

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Perhaps it may be true? Perhaps no? Either way it doesn't bother me if people use it or pass it around because one is free to accept or reject any advice unless his/her conditioning will not allow it..

 

Joseph

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Maybe for me its conditioning...experience, anyway. And personal.

The present flurry of these posts are coming from some among whose family was just a tragic unexpected death...

 

For me, its been 17 yrs and 4 days now, since a midnight phone call without details, just a horrible sounding "come! Now!"..rushing to an ER to see close loved ones through the glass doors, the stunned shock, and knowing it was more horrible than I could have imagined.... dawn was just breaking as, rounds of police reports and questions finally over, a 5 wk baby on its way to the medical examiner in a nearby major city, we begn to move like zombies out of that place, back to a too empy too quiet home..trying to take a sip of coffee and unable to even swallow it, and people began to descend with stuff like that...""he's in a better place.." "God has a reason..."Don't cry at his loss, smile at remembering you had him...".."God needed an angel..."

 

Yeah, I guess its personal. conditioning, Just thinking how those close to this unexpected loss must be feeling to these kinds of things being posted in response, and likely, hearing personally as well....

 

This, too, shall pass.

 

Jenell

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I don't find these "as objectionable" on facebook as I find the type of emails with the same expression of the same sentiments. Its easier for me to ignore it on somebody's facebook page. I don't like it, necessarily, but well its their page. I do object to people filling my email with it though. I've asked people not to so, but then they get angry and accuse me of being "unChristian". I delete them, of course, and refuse to get into the proverbial "p" contest with anyone over it. :o

 

I follow your thinking and have to agree, at least to some extent.

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Oops, I just had another thought. My friend and I were talking about how superficial social network communication is specifically, and how generally many people in our society (US) are rather superficial. Do you think that posts such as Jenell describes are on symptom of this superficiality? I wonder how many people are really thinking what some of these posts (and emails) deep below the surface.

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Oops, I just had another thought. My friend and I were talking about how superficial social network communication is specifically, and how generally many people in our society (US) are rather superficial. Do you think that posts such as Jenell describes are on symptom of this superficiality? I wonder how many people are really thinking what some of these posts (and emails) deep below the surface.

 

I think you are on it. Now that you mention it, these same people demonstrate superficiality in many many different ways, their interests, their social-political views, and, yes, their relationship to relgious and faith matters. Just hadn't connected that, I guess, to this particular thing. But I don't find Facebook, per se, or other social networks, are any worse than other kinds of contact or communication, what they do on Facbook is just manifesting what/how they are in any other communication of their thoughts and interests.

I maintain a Facebook page not so much for 'socilizing', certainly not 'meeting' new people...but rather, to kind of keep up with what's going on in lives of people I'm connected to in some way, in 'real life', but may not talk to personally that often.

 

Jenell

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I don't find these "as objectionable" on facebook as I find the type of emails with the same expression of the same sentiments.

 

I discovered a cure a few years ago with a chain email (echain?) that was really objectionable and factually false (about Islam). I replied to the sender and everyone on the chain pointing out that the 'facts' were bogus. I never received another of these from this person again.

 

I did the same again with an email from someone else showing a picture of George Bush on an aircraft carrier in front of cheering sailors. The caption said something to the effect, 'Doesn't this remind you of Jesus Christ?" (I am serious, I wish I had saved it). I replied to everyone that it reminded me more of Julius Caesar and his praetorian guard. I never got another from this source again as well.

 

However, emails or FB posts that just express a benign point of view or theology, I let go. If I had proof that there was or was not a God involved in our lives, maybe I would feel obligated to bring the truth to light.

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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I can offer second witness to the successfulness of that tactic, George. :D

 

In personal emails, that is what I have done. At first, it was just the outrageous political 'propaganda'. I first started doing it back during the Bush X Kerry presidential race...I just 'had it up to here!!!...with the outrageous stupid, petty, snide, mocking, ridiculing,malicious slandeorus, and even absurd nonsense and garbage about Kerry. It does seem to me looking back, in all honestly, this kind of thing, both the outrageous propaganda put out by, sorry, but its true, the conversative Repubiican and religious right, very much seems to have been concieved, gestated, and born within the very intentional and expertly planned and crafted effort to pull off GW Bush's brain storm idea that if a candidate could get the evangelical voting block onboard, that block alone would be snough to carry the presidential election. So was born "compassionate conservatism" campaign...some inlfuential and quite fundamentalist evangelicals teamed up in that, convinced they had found a way to power in this country. I've read a bit on that a few years ago, that was a very carefully and expertly planned move to win that election.

 

I began to counter those emails with 2 tactics...point by point facts, but also, reverse parodies about their own favored candidate, written in the exact kind of tone they had used in theirs.

 

From there, whether obviously religious or just social or even old wives tale garbage, I generally do "reply all" with facts and common sense reasoning.

 

Yes, very effective stopping those kinds of emails. However, I learned the effect and response is very often a lot more than that. Those people see such responses as being argumentative and offensive, lol. Very often, it not only stops the stupid emails, but ends all communication with those people. Many prone to that in my own circle responded by seeing me as an 'enemy'. Like Yvonne mentioned, if you object to the ones involving religion and faith, especially use relevant scriptirual reference as well as factual refutations to expose and counter the outright lies in your response, you are accused of being "NOT Christian", even atheist and under the devil's influence!

 

All of which led me to a further, and more profound realization. And its when I present THIS one to them in my response, they are ready to get out the cross and nails, often turning their similar tactics toward and upon ME, to start tearing me apart limb by limb. The more obvious and outrageous the lies, the easier they are to effectively refute with facts, the worse that reaction is.

 

The Greek word from which "the Devil" as occurs in the NT is translated is "diablos" which means "traducer, false accuser, slanderer." And that in the NT, it is written that the language of the enemy, of the devil, is the lie.

 

That has effectively ended more than one "relationship" between myself and some of them. No doubt they see what I've done in that quite differently than I do. That's when I become a self-righteous holier than thou and somewhat deranged religious fanatic, and if they know my family history, "just like my mother did."

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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One thing that has struck me about this 'e-chain' genre are some that include blatant lies written and distributed by people who are expressly Christian. There is, of course, a wide variation in Christian beliefs, but there are none, to my knowledge, that overtly condone lying.

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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One thing that has struck me about this 'e-chain' genre are some that include blatant lies written and distributed by people who are expressly Christian. There is, of course, a wide variation in Christian beliefs, but there are none, to my knowledge, that overtly condone lying.

 

George

 

Yes, George. And it IS those that profess to be Christian, especially that do so in these offensive posts and all other open communications, even using their Christianity as supposed justification for some of this kind of garbage, that I have begin to throw that final punch I mentioned at. Yes, I KNOW its a hard punch, and yes, even that some would call hitting below the belt.

But where do we draw that line, where do we say, here's my line, not in the sand, but in solid rock, and that line is being crossed. Where do we decide to draw that line, take our stand, in such matters violate our deepest core values, that they claim to share in common with us?

 

I do not throw that punch lightly. It took me a long time and a lot of hard consideration and a lot of prayer, to come to not only letting myself throw it, but also feel I'm throwing it fairly, even that is is a punch that NEEDS to be thrown at them, not because I hate them, not to insult or just 'win an argument', but because they honest to God need some sense knocked into them, to maybe, just maybe, get them to see what they have fallen into, perhaps unawares, self-deluded, and that I have no reason for feeling guilty in doing so.

 

That's some I've given thought to about changes in our culture and society over my lifetime. In moving away from the dsyfcuntion anf evils and harms of self-righteous, unfair, and cruel judgementalism against petty social standards,and determination to tell others how they should live, what they should do, away from a past of hateful, bigoted, cruel discrimination, in postive ways that have opened new ways into true equality and tolerance for others and their differences, there has been growing right along with that, as if a tare among the wheat, something less positive, even something evil in its own sense....somewhere in all that, has also grown a tolerance, under the cloak of 'free expression' an reluctance, hesitation, even aversion, to calling something evil and wrong what it really is, that under the guise of "poltical correctness", we have no right to make judgements about other people's opinions, positions, or even judgements about truth. fact, and lies and downright stupidity that have become so openly blatant it is as if they are just DARING you to call them out on it, so they can get their tail in a kink and respond with something like (and I relate here specifically so-called Christians) that "and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou FOOL, shall be in danger of hell fire."

Making it as if it is an even greater 'sin' to call out another's foolishness, worse to call out another's lie, than it is for them to act foolish or lie to begin with.

 

I can remember in some ways back in those 'old days', there WERE positive applications of making and acting on those 'judgements' of other's behaviors....such as how other men in a community, or even a church, upon learning a man among them was abusing his wife, would often go give that 'brother' a good shake-down about it, demand he straighten up and treat her right. Or come down on someone shirking responsiblities and dutirs in any number of contexts. It seemed more recognized there WERE times to step in, act, whether by stating something bluntly or other, even physical interventions, when someone was clearly off on a bad or wrong track.

As the old time preachers often said, there are times when we NEED to step up can call sin, sin. A lie, a lie. Foolishness, foolishnss. Certainly that demand discernment, in ones actual motives, and the actual ground ones stand on. To go off in either direction is not good. And I think we've gone entirely off into the wrong direction, off into the ditch on the other side of the road, i this one.

 

Jenell

 

PS George, I want to express agreement with another point in your quote here. No, I don't think this really has anything to do with "differing religious beliefs", either. Even those denominational beliefs systems I most disagree with do NOT really condone any of this stuff.

Edited by JenellYB
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To carry above to a conclusion that walks right out onto ground where even angels fear to tread....

 

About that punch...hitting below the belt, or even greater...?

 

Basic to Christian theology is that in Christ, there is a death of the body, the flesh. It is in that death, that spiritually, we live.

Conversely, to be in service to the flesh, the enemy, yes, to Diablos, is to be dead in Spirit, dead to Christ.

 

That is why it really has been hard for me to actually come to a point of throwing that punch. It isn't just hitting below the belt. It's a fatal blow, thrown at another Christian. There's nothing for it, but that one of us dies.

If I beleive it true, and don't throw it, I die. If I throw it, the other dies.

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
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For me it isn't about personal conditioning, or somebody else's theology, or any thing else that's been mentioned thus far. What I find unsettling is that these posts are completely inconsistent with the rest of these people's posts. Its almost as if they either paying lip service to their beliefs through the occasional pithy poster, or they are paying lip service to the rest of their lives.

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For me it isn't about personal conditioning, or somebody else's theology, or any thing else that's been mentioned thus far. What I find unsettling is that these posts are completely inconsistent with the rest of these people's posts. Its almost as if they either paying lip service to their beliefs through the occasional pithy poster, or they are paying lip service to the rest of their lives.

 

Something emerging already here, for me, as a fuller awareness, is as George noted, I agreed, and here you, Yvonne, mention too, this isn't about any 'brand' of theology, doctrine, people may claim to, at least outside maybe some really fringe groups, as even those I might find most objectionable don't seem to condone lies, slanders, and vain glories. And I've found when you apply some reasoning to most of the genre, as someone here called it, of so many of these things, whether of the slanderous, degrading sort, but also many of the seemingly oh so too sweet 'glurgy' kind, either spun from lies with an evident intent to influence emotional attitudes toward something or someone, you can usually find some of both, slander and vain glory, evident within them. In adding 'glurges' in here, those stories as Snope describes them, like a chicken soup for the soul with the addition of a sickeningly sweet dose of syrup thrown in, often passed about as 'inspirational' peices, I do so because if you turn them this way and that just a bit, you can generally find within them both a vain glory (what makes "me/us" feel good" or superior about ourselves) and a slander (me/us contrasted to "them', those not like us, as inferior).

 

Which leads into the question, do they realize that? Do they really not see it themselves? So many of these of the politically slanted sort seem so obvious to me, and I think most not "bought into" that mentality, but do those that are, do they really not see it? Both the superficalty and the underlying bias, slander and/or vain glory in most of these thing usually is so obvious, so thinly veiled...and yet, I wonder, in their superficilaity, do they really not recognize that themselves? Or DO they, and their ignorance of that feigned?

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To further explain what I mean about the vain glory/slander element, such as the 'platitude' I presented in my OP.

 

While the idea it conveys does express something that can be positive, as something we can work toward in processing the painful experiences and difficult circumstances in life, it is only useful in that context, as something we might come to eventually. At least, so I think.

 

When cast as how we might respond to an immediate painful experience or event, is to me, an attempt to discredit, even deny the normal grief and sense of loss a person experiences at the moment. It becomes a"just get over it already." That there is something "wrong with", "weak", about experiencing the pain and grief of a loss.

 

And I think that is where the unbelievable (to me) stoney faced attitude and demeanor among *some* Christian communities in face of loss, that is expected, even demanded, which can so easily then slide right into outright cruelty (imo).

 

A demonstration of that I remember was at the funeral of a first degree relative some years ago, who had died quite suddenly and unexpectedly, of a sudden death heart attack, at 56. He and his wife had been deeply involved in a small very fundamentalist evangelical (independent Baptist) church most their adult lives, to such extent they had virtually no real relationship with anyone outside that community. Including family. But I loved him just none the less, he was, as noted, first degree relative to me.

As I was among that stoney faced bunch, I watched and listened in amazement as his stunned widow was repeatedly "reassured" they he was in a better place, and in other ways, it seemed to me, that shamed her for open expression of her grief, as if it reflected weakness of faith. As I sat among the stoney faced congregation during the preacher's funeral sermon, remembering my good memories of him, and feeling my loss of him in my life, I shed tears. Just shed tears, no weeping and wailing or gnashing of teeth, just some tears slid down my cheeks. The preacher's sermon was full of those kind of platitudes. But when I began to shed tears, he looked directly at me, and very pointedly, quoted:

 

1 Thess ch. 4:13 ..But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

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Sorry to go on at length here, but to complete the above thought..that widow in the above case, his death at 57, he being at the time 55, also meant she wasn't eligible of any social security or pension, and wouldn't be for many years. She had an 8th grade education, had stayed home to have and raised 7 children, had never worked at gainful employment, had no marketable jobs skills at all. They also had little savings, having just begun to be able to set some back, for all his decent but modest lower middle class income not being consumed by raising 7 kids! So were her normal, natural, even healthy concerns for how she was going to survive, meet any bills and expenses, being dismissed with platitudes along the line of the Lord always provides, you know, ye of little faith, consider the lilies of the field kind of stuff...

Jenell

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Everything happens for a reason
I bundle this with "God doesn't give us more than we can handle" ..... PURE CRAP

 

Why is is so hard for the church to say after someone is hurt in an accident . " There is no rhyme nor reason for this to happen"?

 

Instead if being honest someone makes up an excuse that no one believes or at least no one should believe just so they have an answer. It is a defensive response as tho God is being criticized for allowing bad things to happen. Change the view of Gods involvement and the need to defend changes too.

 

steve

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It isn't just the church, murmsk. This seems to be pretty widespread in our society. Its just seems to me so pervasive,

 

While I used the particular example of the raw grief on those that have just usffered a tragic loss, it goes much further than tnat. Like you say, the "god won't lay more on us than we can bear, which effectively says, whatever the person may be struggling with, hey, you can handle it, you don't need any help, so shut up and get on with it."

 

In general, discrediting, discounting, other's real pain or grief, but also in so many other ways, someone struggling with a difficult medical sitation, or under loss of income, maybe hit with big unexpected expenses at the same time, someone just trying to hold up under combined strains of life circumstances. It a dismissla, an aversion to even aksnowledging anothers pain or diffiulty, even denying them theor experience of very normal emotions. As if there's something "wrong with" people having/expeirencing them, and "wrong with" acknowledging them.

Or if diffulty or pain is acknowledged, it is immediate dismissed, discredited, are somehow being their own fault, that they are not worthy of compassion, the blame the victim mentality.

 

As if, and here's were it seems to me real egoist selfishness enters in, where the roots of this really lie...to avoid experiencing, or expressing, any empathy or compassion. Because if one empathizes, has compassion, something might be expected of them? By others, or within their own selves?

 

So often, the best thing, the thing we may need most, in difficult times, is just an acknowledgment of not only our emotions, but the legitamacy of our experiencing those emotions?

 

I can say from my own experiences such as the one mentioned above, of the sudden accidiental death of a baby by a young couple, who's anguish of loss and grief was horribly compounded by a deep sense of personal guilt, for the death had involved a lapse of judgement, a moment of careless, in one of those matters we hear warnings aobut, but so easily dismiss as something not likely to happen to us, and of a sort that parents of babies get by with all the time without the tragic potential becoming reality.

 

Sometimes the best thing to say to someone in deep raw grief is actually nothing at all. If not face to face, or at most, a heartfelt "I'm soooo sorry...this must be horrible for you..." To demonstrate, with a look a hug, a touch, you know and recognize their grief, but to accept, there's nothing TO say. Just acknowledge.

To me, some of the things we heard in that, the he's in a better place, God has a reason for all things, God knows best even when we don't, don't cry because he's gone but smile becasue you had him.... seemed to callous, they may as well have said, oh, well, you can always make another one, or even, well, look at the bright side, now you won't have to worry about all that work and expense raising him.

 

In less dramatic difficulties, someone struggling with serious financial crisis or health diffiuculties, really needs acknowledgement of their difficulties, affirmations of their natural emotional responses, That doesn't have to mean you have to DO something about it! Just acknowledge, empathize. But neither does that person really need to hear you platitudes about this is all for the best, Fod is teaching you a lesson or trying your faith, or well, this is why you need to have a good savings and investments plans to be prepared for these kinds of things.

 

It might help if I explain what I meant, why I chose, the title I did for this thread, "teaching or preaching." When we go through life struggles, difficulties, experience our pain anf grief and fears, and work our way through them, until we CAN come to a point later of having made of them something expressed in such platidues, we teach through our example. But when we just tell someone, even ourselves, that is HOW we need to respond to our difficulties, we preach down to someone already down enough.

don't say, I know how you feel, because you really don't. And don't, as so many of these platitudes do, tell them how they should feel, becasue you really don't know that either.

 

It just seems to all come down to, a lot of people have a really hard time letting themselves empathize with, have, experience, or express, compassion for others.

 

Jenell

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