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Monday, April 5, 2010

Labels

The blog posts aren't coming as regularly lately. I don't know why. I just don't feel like writing as much. Forgive me.

However, I've been tossing around this idea of writing about "Christian Humanism" for a few months. Here's the long and short of it:

When I was attending church in high school/college, I heard the phrase "secular humanism" a lot. (Granted, I attended a very fundamental, conservative Baptist church at the time.) Needless to say, the "secular humanists" were not looked upon in a positive light. Apparently, them and the Democrats were largely to blame for the state of our country. I didn't really know what "secular humanist" meant (much less know an actual "secular humanist") and didn't want to ask. I never really bothered looking into it for a while. When I did, I was surprised.

Humanism, in itself, isn't such a bad philosophical mindset. Sure, it finds itself at odds with organized religion most of the time, but I don't find that to be a major problem. The thought that we, as humans, should uphold reason, ethics, and justice should be foundational in all of our lives. But here's what it boils down to: a lot of (re: most) humanists reject organized religion. So Christians don't seem to pay it much attention. I, however, feel differently.

I think you can boil humanism's main view down to this: we are all to be the best humans we can be. We should live lives to our fullest potential and keep reason, ethics, and justice at the forefront of everything we do.

As someone who believes in libertarian free will, this idea merges perfectly in my head with the thoughts that are already there. I think God put us here with the ability to choose great good and great bad. (I wrote a post of the philosophical necessity of this a while back and about Process theology, you can read that here if you'd like.) God didn't make robots. God didn't lay everything out for us. We have to make a lot of decisions. And, unfortunately, people make a lot of bad decisions. But, if you were to merge the teachings of Jesus with the idea that we are here on this earth to live to our fullest potential, then I think you have some dynamite. For this reason, I don't mind calling myself a Christian Humanist.

That's it. I was going to write more, but I'm not. I want to keep it simple. I'm tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of having to explain myself. I've realized that I've attached lots of labels to myself. I've been trying to explain myself to people. I've been trying to deal with all the pain that "friends" and other Christians caused me. I wanted to write about labels I put on myself so I could explain things... hoping people would understand. Hoping people would see that there is reason and logic and faith and hope behind the changes that have happened in my life. Hoping people would see that it was okay and normal for me to be different from them. But here I am, three or three and a half years later, still trying to explain myself.

And I'm tired of it.

These labels, these boxes, just don't make sense anymore. They're not enough. I'm a Christian Humanist, but not really a Humanist. I believe Creationism has its merits but not without science and its thoughts, viewpoints, and discoveries. I'm an exclusivist with inclusivist leanings, so does that make me an inclusivist? I'm an annihilationist that doesn't believe Heaven or Hell (as physical locations) even exists yet. I believe in libertarian free will, think Calvinism is a joke, and Arminianism doesn't answer all the questions surrounding the matter of salvation. I think a literalist reading of the Bible is naive and a total metaphorical reading misses the point. I work for a church but have a lot of issues with the way institutional church does things. I am anti-war, anti-violence, and anti-militarism, but don't know if I could call myself a pacifist. I'm opposed to most Republican politics, but sure don't buy into enough of what the Democrats put out there to say I'm one of them. I'm a guitarist but really don't know enough about music to call myself a musician.

Life is complicated. We're complicated. Too complicated to put labels on ourselves all the time. The things I call myself, they are not who I am. I've tried to use them to describe myself, explain myself, hoping people would understand. But most of those people still don't understand because they haven't taken the time to get to know me.

ME.

For this reason, and more, I'm going to be more intentional about staying away from labels. They aren't helping me. And the people I was using them for, I honestly don't care about anymore.

4 comments:

Brittany said...

one label i'm especially proud of: john david's wife.

i love you.

Saintdoc said...

I love you John David. You are very special to me. Life is a journey and I am glad you have been a part of my journey. Brittany you should be proud to be the wife of a man willing to be real. Keep walking and learning my brother.


So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved. God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.

Louis Tagliaboschi said...

Great post. Honesty pouring out. It is one of the many reasons I consider you my friend.

mistylb said...

I love reading your posts, John David.