it's amazing how easy it is to be ignorant when you attend a conservative church, homeschool and only associate with other homeschooling and conservative churching families.
one of the many things i found myself totally ignorant of was abuse in the church. as much as catholics were reviled among my peers (from elementary through college) there still wasn't much talk or revulsion over the extent of the abuse scandals. the words "spiritual abuse" were not even in the lexicon, let alone explained or warned against. most likely because it was happening with frightening regularity. my parents never treated pastors as though they were on a different level than the rest of us, but that message was pretty common from other sources. if something bad was said about the church, it was the fault of atheists or just a misunderstanding.
as time has gone by my perspective has changed quite a bit. time after time i find abuse of all kinds in the church. time after time pastors tell wives to submit to abuse. time after time pastors stand by each other against the victims. time after time pastors act self-righteous and put down the least of these. forget pastors - just think christians in general.
i'm not even talking here about marginalizing women and minorities or other theological branches. i'm not talking about the jerks who feel they speak for god. i'm just talking blatantly and seemingly obvious moral wrongs. pedophilia. defending pedophilia. physical and emotional abuse. defending physical and emotional abuse. verbal abuse. manipulation.
so. all that. i keep seeing more and more and more of that.
but there is another side to this.
being so sheltered as a child and young adult also kept me from seeing the good.
as long as there have been christians promoting and accepting and defending the indefensible, there have been christians and others opposing them. as long as there has been hate and horridness from christians there has been christians and non-christians opposing that and them.
social justice, women's rights, standing up for the oppressed - well, those are all new things to me. as an uber-christian for most of my life, it's kind of sad how ignorant i was of all the good i could do in the world, and all the good that was being done.
but it was being done.
the awful things were being done, every day. some by people i trusted, by those who are revered by the people i trusted and revered. by people i used to think were "godly" and good.
but despite them, good things are being done and my life is richer now that i know.
I'm not saying that christians manipulate and/or use others on purpose all of the time. but i can't give a free pass and say something is okay just because the right intent is there.
i have a beautiful, wonderful friend.
she does whatever she can for others. she gives time. she gives money. she gives, most of all, a listening ear. if someone is one of the least of these, she is there.
if someone is a self-righteous jerk, she doesn't waste her time.
i watch her and see how much she loves people and her faith and i wonder if i had been surrounded by such as her from a young age if i would have a stronger hold on my own faith.
i don't know the answer to that question.
but i do know that her life is one i want to emulate. christian or not, someone like her changes the world.
so maybe sometimes the world just sucks.
but when i remember that she is in this world, that people like her exist, it sucks just a little bit less.