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Bringing Along A Friend


MerryG
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I've mentioned elsewhere that I have a fundie friend who is a wonderful person. She's gentle and kind and not even remotely a prude. She is simply someone who tends to believe whatever "authority" tells her.

 

She lost her beloved father when she was an adolescent, got thrown into pretty cruel circumstances, and I've always had the impression that god and Jesus were a sort of substitute family for her. I would never want or try to take that away from her. To me, it's a crutch. But what the heck; sometimes we need crutches.

 

The one thing that's always grated on me is the fundiness -- statements of rigid doctrine or almost hypnotic bible belief that sound to me more like parrot-style repetition than anything from her real soul.

 

But my position has always been that I'll keep my damned skeptic's mouth shut if she'll keep her bible-beliving mouth shut and we'll get along just fine. Of course, she wants to "save" me, so that always didn't work out.

 

Lately, though, I've noticed a slow but happy change in her. It started with the fact that she couldn't reconcile her church's anti-homosexual rants with the obvious truth that her gay son and his friends are great people. She lived with that cognitive dissonance for years, but within the last few months, she left the fundie denomination and moved to one that emphasises god's love for all.

 

More recently, she admitted that, "There's a lot in the bible that's just human," and she didn't squawk when I added some specific (heretical to fundies) detail about recent bible scholarship.

 

I'm thrilled and surprised. But I have a question about how I should handle the changes she's going through.

 

As I said, I don't want to take away her religion. I just look forward to being able to talk more freely and honestly with her about a subject that's important to us both (in very different ways).

 

Any tips for how I should proceed? How we can broach certain biblical subjects without me alienating her or getting her back up? How I can express my own skeptical views without nudging her back into, "Well I don't know, but I'm sure my pastor does" mode? What/how I might be able say things in a way that helps her on her journey?

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Any tips for how I should proceed? How we can broach certain biblical subjects without me alienating her or getting her back up? How I can express my own skeptical views without nudging her back into, "Well I don't know, but I'm sure my pastor does" mode? What/how I might be able say things in a way that helps her on her journey?

 

It sounds like she's working things out pretty well on her own, although she may never actually go all the way to being an atheist.

 

Just be a good friend. If she comes to you with questions or seems to want information about something, provide the information or the resources for her to find it. I wouldn't push the issue at all, since she's already starting to question by herself.

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It sounds like she's working things out pretty well on her own, although she may never actually go all the way to being an atheist.

 

Just be a good friend. If she comes to you with questions or seems to want information about something, provide the information or the resources for her to find it. I wouldn't push the issue at all, since she's already starting to question by herself.

 

This.

 

Rather than bringing up your own thoughts on the matter, it might be best to wait for her to bring up whatever she's been thinking about and ask questions to help her work through it herself.

 

You sound like you've been doing a great job so far!

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i wouldnt try to force it on her, it could lead to a reversal of her thinking, but guide her if she has questions, and she will.

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Yeah, you guys are right. And she is doing great on her own (and, I suspect, under the humanist influence of a less judgmental pastor).

 

I think I posted because I was worried that, in my excitement at her changes, I'd put my damn foot in my mouth.

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I agree with everyone else here. It might be that your friend's change in Church might be what her move is to be. If she does show questions, just be there for her, for I think the liberal christianity is very unstable, but I do almost agree with Borg in that it is perhaps a different religion than "literal" Christianity.

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...I think the liberal christianity is very unstable, but I do almost agree with Borg in that it is perhaps a different religion than "literal" Christianity.

 

Thank you. Good point. You express something that was nagging at me, but that I didn't articulate.

 

Despite the ridiculous pretzel-twists of logic it requires, I can see why fundies have to tell themselves the bible is the absolutely flawless word of god (as my friend did as little as six months ago). Because once you start admitting, "Parts of it are merely human," you simply have to ask, "Which parts?" -- and There Be Dragons.

 

Of course millions of Christians go on believing Jesus was god and son of god even after they reject most everything else -- which is where my friend might end up. But it's such a fragile position.

 

My friend is at a tipping point and I'd like to help her. Not help her "tip" in any particular direction; I can't even see her as an atheist. I just ... well, want to be her friend in the best way I can.

 

Thanks for the help.

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