Thursday, 26 June 2014

Pan Lei: Who is at loggerheads with Christians?

Who is at loggerheads with Christians?

Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Edited by Karen L. and Kristeeq, Written by Pan Lei 

It can be lonely for one to be a Christian in this day and age: on social occasions, religion is definitely not a comfortable topic (especially in front of nonbelievers); in the mainstream media, we usually see more negative rather than positive news about Christians, and some Christians might even think the media is hostile towards them. And what is more, we, as Christians, have to bear all those brunt, including ridiculing of some of our habits and thoughts as well as doubts about our faith. How should we react in this seemingly hostile society?

Two months ago, I wrote an article, entitled If Christians Don't Know How to Respect in Macau Times, which was then reposted in The News Lens, a Taiwan website with lots of discussion threads. Among the comments, most seemed to agree that there is a lack of respect from Christians towards other cultures and religions, echoing their vigorous dislike upon Christianity. Several viral videos online were cited as examples: a preacher "dismembered" a Kuan-yin (Goddess of Mercy) statue; some Christians damaged several Buddhist ritual implements and a pastor asked God to help a sister to recover her hymen.

For a long time, I have realised that Christianity is not respected in the modern world, but still I am shocked by people's intense hatred of the belief system. Indeed, Taiwan is a specific context of this topic and does not represent an isolated incident. General emotional resistance towards certain Christians' behaviour and reasoning is appearent among the community. Viewing this phenomenon from a delusional perspective, some Christians feel "persecuted", some choose to pass the buck to the "evil spirits", and some even state this reaction as demonstration of "decline of moral values". No matter what there are always some people to propose such an opinion: "This is an epoch in which Christians face hostility everywhere. To step back and comprise are not options, instead we should persevere against adversity and stand firm!"

I wonder how there are so many people intent on "persecuting Christians". In Discussions on The Society for Truth and Light written by Daniel Cheung Kwok-tung, an epistemologist studying religion-related topics, what attracts me most are not the analyses nor the criticisms on The Society for Truth and Light (STT, a fundamentalist Christian organisation against homosexual marriage), but the related discussions of evangelicalism inside, a conservative Protestant movement founded in American, of which it was generated by some believers' presumption of themselves living in a hostile society.

Back in the 1960s, the era of civil movements, there was a "de-religionisation" trend in the States: for the sake of religion neutrality, praying was banned in public schools. Instead, the "evolutionism" entered the curriculum, and abortion was legalised by the society. It struck the nerve of many believers, who then claimed themselves as the "Moral Majority", and aimed to "Take America Back for God". In order to strengthen its influence, they led the movement's development to another level – to be allied with the Republicans, the conservative power in the political field. Some evangelical pastors opposed environmental protection policies for Bush's government, and some extreme believers even launched demonstration at the funeral of soldiers who had been serving in Iraq, because they had faith that God was punishing the morally degenerate country.

These kind of Christians conceive that society is brewing a "cultural war", attempting to persecute Christians in the name of "political correctness" by all means. They believe that those "extreme liberalists" are in line with mainstream media, so as to make Christians desperate.

But are their thoughts the truth? Doesn't what they deduce follow a practice of retrocausality? The case might not be people using Christians' kinds of ideologies (such as human rights, freedom, multi-culturalism, rational thinking...)as weapons to "strike" Christians. In other words, Christianity isn't the object of attack to the general public, but rather certain behaviours by people as Christians. It's not personal but is being judged on its own merits. It's possibly the time for certain Christians to let go of the impulsive "counter-attack" and with open-mindedness, to think about why the world has changed, to see if non-Christian's thoughts are reasonable in some way. And how should the communication between Christians and non-Christians proceed.

Satan might not be the enemy who criticised you, but rather your own mind, like delusional disorder or paranoia. On the contrary, people who criticised you might be angels bringing a space of self-reflection. In today's society, if you, as a Christian, feel alone and not understood by others, what you have to do isn't to immediately start a war against those "imaginary enemies". You, and us too if it suits our descriptions, should sit down and reflect upon ourselves. The lesson is to learn the way to respect and to communicate with the world in a better way.

(Macau Times, May 2014)

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