Jump to content

Who's In, Who's Out?


R. S. Martin
 Share

Recommended Posts

I think it's so utterly crazy--all this boundary setting as to who really is in and who is out. I was raised to believe that everyone who dresses and lives remotely like us (conservative Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites) was probably in and that all others, with a few minor exceptions, were probably out. Anyone with a TV in the house had basically invited the devil into their livingroom. That's the kind of message I grew up with.

 

It took me a long time to get over the idea that TV is the very epitome of evil. Other things equally evil were: divorce, women in pants, Santa Claus, long hair on men, no head covering on women; "worldly" dress on men, women, and children; lightening rods, tractors with cabs, education beyond Grade 8, missions, the English language in the home and church, gospel songs, musical instruments, Sunday School. The list goes on, and on, and on.

 

Sometimes I feel my real deconversion was leaving the Old Order Mennonites (OOM). In order to leave them, I had to come to terms with all these "evil" things that "worldly Christians" did and had. I could have taken it in smaller steps like some people do. There are quite a number of degrees of liberalism between the Old Order Mennonites and the modern, TV-watching, mission-minded, fancy car-driving Mennonites; there's a different church for each degree.

 

I didn't want to have to get to know so many different churches and their rules and theology, so I just went to the most modern ones where I knew I would eventually end up. It took me a long time to come to terms with it. I felt like I had transformed into evil itself. yet deep inside I knew I had no other options.

 

In the modern Mennonite churches I had to listen to people who were asking how we (modern Mennonites) "differ from the world," what a "mission-minded church should be like," "how to remain separate from the world," etc. It nearly drove me crazy. I kept telling them they WERE the world. That they were the very people I had been taught to see as "the world." I wanted them to become aware of the craziness of their questions.

 

I wanted them to address these questions head on. They would just respond with "that's a good question." And continue their discussions as though I had not said anything. Eventually I learned to stay away from adult Sunday School and church meetings because I only alienated people with my desperate questions.

 

On this forum I encounter the same kind of concept. People here keep harping about the things their churches taught them were evil, such as specific TV programs or radio stations as opposed to TV and radio themselves. I never encountered the question have you been born again or are you saved. Those questions were things "worldly" Christians worried about. I was taught that if they really wanted to be Christians they would not resemble the world so much, that they would not be indistinguishable from the world.

 

Basically, their religion was made out to be shallow. I was taught that there were more important things to worry about than so much emphasis on the new birth. But this was really confusing because Jesus said so clearly and unambiguously: Ye must be born again.

 

Now to really seriously distort and mess up the picture, the modern Mennonites they told me how legalistic the OOM were, and that this was not truly Christian. However, these Mennonites were just as legalistic when it came to believing the right things--I think they were perhaps more legalistic when it came to right beliefs than the OOM.

 

Even when it came to dressing. They dressed like the world but like many people here have mentioned, there was a dress code of sorts, just not as definitely spelled out. The first church I joined had an out-reach mission for the unchurched young people of the town. They opened the church perhaps two nights a week.

 

(I kept wondering what they expected these young people to do the other five nights of the week but I had a feeling I would be best off not to ask; it just seemed that if these young people were in such desperate need for a safe place to hang out as they kept saying, then two nights a week did not meet the need.) I asked if their own children ever came and was told they wouldn't really want them there. So I was learning to see distinctions in "the world."

 

Those were some of the things I encountered in the modern Mennonite churches I went to. On my other hand were the conservative Mennonites of various stripes.

 

One person who asked what church I plan to go to if I stop with OOM exclaimed, "What! musical instruments? women in pants? women preachers?"

 

Maybe if the xians won't discuss these questions the exChristians will. That is why I posted it here. For some reason, I am still really bugged by these very confusing issues. I know people here have renounced these beliefs but maybe someone remembers. Or maybe it provides ammunition for your own discussion with Christians in your own lives. It's not as though the OOM did not have scripture and solid logic to back up their beliefs, given the way they saw the world and understood reality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't worry much about who is in or who is out. It reminds me too much of the "True" Christian gag. After all, us deconverts here on X-c were never "True" Christians to begin with or we never would have deconverted. It's a typically circular piece of self-defense that Christians use to justify their continued beliefs. I look at it like this, if a person claims to be a Christian, they're a Christian. I only concern myself with what flavor of Christian a person is to the extent that I need to determine how much to avoid them. I do whaterver I can to avoid fundies.

 

Sorry, Ruby. I know that doesn't answer your question but it's the best I've got.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, Ruby. I know that doesn't answer your question but it's the best I've got.

 

Thanks for responding. I'm not sure why it bugs me but it does. I guess I like to understand my life and this is a part I don't really understand.

 

I don't worry much about who is in or who is out. It reminds me too much of the "True" Christian gag.

 

I know. That's what it is. But it's more. It involves the cultural base of who I am.

 

After all, us deconverts here on X-c were never "True" Christians to begin with or we never would have deconverted. It's a typically circular piece of self-defense that Christians use to justify their continued beliefs. I look at it like this, if a person claims to be a Christian, they're a Christian. I only concern myself with what flavor of Christian a person is to the extent that I need to determine how much to avoid them. I do whaterver I can to avoid fundies.

 

Avoiding them is not exactly possible for me. Mostly I avoid talking religion. I guess it rankles me when people talk about what Christianity is and when they lament the things they weren't allowed to do. Maybe it's the "wasted life" issue coming up for me. All the unnecessary suffering. And being condemned for not liking it. All in the name of religion. I dunno. It's just horrible. At the age of fifty I'm looking for my first job outside of gardening and sewing. It's not that I did not enjoy some of the things I had in life. It's just the unnecessary suffering I went through, and now that I am finally making a new way for myself I just get blasted by all who ever were near and dear even in some degree. Sister saying she's ashamed to be related to me. Been saying that for decades. I just can't believe it that anybody would hate a person so much as that. We grew up together. We used to do everything together. But then she got accepted for responsible positions in the community and I was rejected.

 

I don't have to be with her or any of hers. But it hurts so badly. I don't know what it would feel like being ashamed of a person. Why would anyone be like that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, Ruby. *huggles* You're in a really tough place. The ones that hurt us the most are the ones that know us the best...and know exactly where to stick a knife. I really don't understand people like your sister. My sisters, although we have our differences, would never, ever say anything that intentionally hurtful to me. I find myself wanting to find your sister and soundly kick her ass.

 

You've done something amazing, though. You've broken free. You're making your own way and from the sounds of it, though it's a struggle, your doing it well.

 

I admire you for that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are 34,000 deominations of Christanity alone, running the gamut of being wildly different from the next, and each individual in each denomination has their own interpretations. For such an incredibly picky god who supposedly cares a great deal about how his "word" is interpreted, Yehweh has certainly allowed "his" religion to be completely fouled up beyond belief. And yes, I did intend that pun.

 

It always bugs me hearing Christians say, "Then they aren't true Christians" when they talk about others that are not following their interpretation of the word, or follow another denomination, or just turn out to be total scumbag liars and criminals. I'm sorry, yes they ARE true Christians. Or they are all false Christians. However you want to see it, you don't get to seperate yourself from their actions and say they aren't "doing it right. " There is no doing it right, Christianity has proved that no matter how much it's members try to put the rose colored blinders on.

 

The OOM can back up anything they want with scripture. So do the Catholics, the Protestants, the Pentacoastals, the Swedenborgians, the Westboro Baptists...you name it. But all this "More Christian than thou" crap is baseless and pointless, because it's blindingly obvious (at least to us Ex-C's) that God really doesn't care whether this Mennonite watches TV and that one doesn't.

 

The world doesn't run on what's right or wrong, it runs on what works or doesn't work. Christianity appeals to the human instincts of belonging and somehow being higher on the totem pole of societal heirarchy. Mostly, it's just nonense that has no bearing on anything in life, and like it or not, Christians have no differences from anybody else in the world. The good, the bad, or the ugly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pretty much all Christian denomations, at least in America, say that certain ones are "in" and others are "out". The liberal ones talk about the fundies as being "out", and the fundies talk about the liberals as being "out." I have not seen any exceptions.

 

I think in American Christianity the question of being saved only usually comes up in evangelical churches. Most churches here are intergenerational. People were brought into religion as babies and baptized by their parents, so they didn't have a choice. The church members are all already "saved," so the question usually doesn't come up except with new church members.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ruby,

 

I think that those people consider you a threat. It's like there is an elephant in the middle of the livingroom that everyone knows is there, but never talks about or acknowledges. They may secretly gossip about it, but for the most part they pretend it's not there.

 

Ruby, you've always pointed out the elephant and they don't like that. They expect you to be like them, pretend it's not there, go along with the pretense, because that's the way it's always been.

 

All the tactics your sister knows how to use don't work so she resorts to wounding you. Yes, she's mad, like the Christians who come here and try to use all their tactics on us and they don't work, so they resort to being mean. The thing is, the tactics they use work on them. They try to manipulate you the same way they have been manipulated. I think there might also be some jelousy on your sister's part. You live your life the way you want, by your own rules, she can't and never will be able to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem with Xianity is that it is an exclusivist religion. It's very much a religion of "us versus them" and of other such black and white labels. Before Xianity, the overall zeitgeist of human religions had no concept like this. There were no "outsiders" and everyone was equal in religious consideration. The notion of "true believers" just didn't exist. Then in comes Xianity, mutates dozens of times, and you have idiotic shit like poor Ruby grew up with.

 

Nothing sadder than religion and philosophy being taught by people who think that a tv set is a magic gateway for demons :jerkit:

 

This whole "true believer"concept is something we try to understand, even though many of us once bought into it ourselves, but the longer many of us are out of Xianity and similar belief systems, the more we fail to feel comfortable trying to define it. The more we rely on logic, the more illogical things like this fail to make sense. I am boggled often by things I believed as a Xian that today seem impossible to think of with a straight face.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, all of you, for sharing your insights and ideas and sympathies. It just feels like it's time to explore this issue a bit and get some closure on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just did a google search for Old Order Mennonites. I looked through one site and I have to say I have never seen anything like it. Hell, I grew up without a lot of things, but that wasn't exactly voluntary, we just didn't have certain things.

 

It just seems so incredibly backward. My apologies if I seem like I'm gawking a bit.

Casey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's so utterly crazy--all this boundary setting as to who really is in and who is out. I was raised to believe that everyone who dresses and lives remotely like us (conservative Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites) was probably in and that all others, with a few minor exceptions, were probably out.

...

On this forum I encounter the same kind of concept. People here keep harping about the things their churches taught them were evil, such as specific TV programs or radio stations as opposed to TV and radio themselves.

...

Basically, their religion was made out to be shallow.

Congratulations. You've answered your own question.

 

It's all xenophobia in varying degrees. From the Wiki:

Xenophobia is a fear and contempt of foreigners.[1] It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "foreigner," "stranger," and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear." The term is typically used to describe fear or dislike of foreigners or in general of people different from one's self.

Xenophobia is a double-edged sword.

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just did a google search for Old Order Mennonites. I looked through one site and I have to say I have never seen anything like it. Hell, I grew up without a lot of things, but that wasn't exactly voluntary, we just didn't have certain things.

 

It just seems so incredibly backward. My apologies if I seem like I'm gawking a bit.

Casey

 

Actually, I feel honoured that you took me seriously enough to look it up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Off topic here, but I just wanted to say this. My ex-husband used to do business with an Amish man who lived in Wisconsin. I remember going to the community there and seeing Amish women who were so heavily pregnant that I thought they'd drop the kid right then and there. They were on top of a hay wagon bailing hay right along with the men. It left a really bad taste in my mouth that they didn't respect women enough to cut them some slack when they were that freaking pregnant. I thought of the Amish women as broodmares hitched up to a plow.

 

Taph

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ruby,

 

I am just curious what language did you have to speak at home and church?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Basically, their religion was made out to be shallow.

Congratulations. You've answered your own question.

 

I guess I wasn't very clear about what my question was supposed to be in this thread. One person said God probably doesn't care whether one Mennonite watches TV and another doesn't. Somehow, that gets at the heart of the matter for me. It explains that the Mennonite who accused other Mennonites of being legalistic was probably just as far beside the point as the Mennonite who accused other Mennonites of being worldly and shallow. What we do or don't do in terms of earthy goods and physical actions is probably of no import when it comes to what really counts in life. Being a good person is what counts. Seems I just had to have that sorted out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ruby,

 

I am just curious what language did you have to speak at home and church?

 

Glad to answer your question but I'd like to make one small correction. We didn't "have" to speak our mother tongue in church and the home, one naturally speaks the language they hear from birth, or before. Pennsylvania German is the language we use for home and church. I'll start a thread in the totally off topic section where I'll say more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a kid, I went to the Church of God where they made it clear who was "in" and who was "out". Of course, you had to believe in Jesus and get saved, but then you would begin to change your outward image to conform with your newly born-again inner spirit. Women had to wear dresses/skirts below the knee, shirts could not be sleeveless or have plunging neck-lines, keep their hair long, wear no jewelry or make-up. Men had to wear their hair short (not over their ears or touching their collar), no jewelry, no shorts, and could not go shirtless (notice this church had a thing about the body between the neck, the elbows, and the knees?). In the home, you could not have a TV. You should mostly listen to Christian music (hymns and gospel). Classical music was usually ok, rock and roll was of the devil. But no dancing was allowed at all! And no going to those evil Hollywood movies. Also, your home would not have a deck of cards, a pool table, a ouiji board or any other instrument of the devil in it. There are other things too, but you get the idea. Living by these rules was the evidence that you were really "in"; refusing them showed that you probably didn't really get saved, and were still an "out".

 

Ruby, I remember one minister using the Amish as an example in his sermon. We lived not far from several communities where a large amount of Amish and Mennonites live. He was talking about visiting with some, and how they dress and act "holy". He then pointed out how they still would swear and drink, so there outward apperance didn't prove anything. So to them, the Amish and others like them were "out". I wouldn't doubt that the Amish would have thought my church as being "out" because we drove cars, listened to radios, used electricity, etc.

 

Strange, isn't it--in my first paragraph, the Church of God stressed that the outward showed what was inward, while in my second paragraph with the Amish example, the outward didn't reveal the inward. I guess they could twist the meaning any way they wanted, just like the rest of Christianity. :Wendywhatever:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.