Goldilocks Christianity

These two tweets have been rattling around in my head for a little while now:

I recently got into a Facebook “discussion” prompted by a FB friend who thought the recent Evolution Weekend put Christians on the path to un-, non-, and/or anti-Biblical beliefs.

Chiming in, I pointed out that writing off a whole subset of Christians who “believe in evolution” is pretty shaky from a theological and spiritual position.

I gave the example of the fundamentalist church in which I was raised and the church camps I attended where I learned why Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, and Muslims (to name a few) were wrong along with Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Mormons, and Pentecostals (to name a few).

This person belongs to a church in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and, along with two of her friends, was adamant that theirs is a Bible-based church.

It seems to me that Protestants in general and fundamentalist evangelicals in particular are Goldilocks Christians – they believe their faith is neither too hot nor too cold. They are just right. Anyone more conservative is a prude and anyone more liberal is on a slippery slope to hell.

So how does this apply to the tweet from Samantha Field? I have absolutely no data or stats or anything beyond my own story and a hunch, so take this with a bucket of salt: if an atheist comes from a fundamentalist background, then they are probably as trained as I was to view the world as black and white. They were probably trained in all the ways all religions are wrong along with Christian traditions other than their own.

It’s really hard to see any middle ground when your mind is trained like that. It seems that, aside from my atheism and her Christianity, my worldview overlaps quite a bit with Samantha Field’s. Even so, I really struggle when reading her blog because there’s a part of my brain that screams “but that’s not right – you can’t be a Real Christian(tm) and believe that!” This was especially true reading her post Living Without Inspiration and I had a real “record scratch” moment when I realized I was being just like those irritating atheists and Christians who interpret the Bible rigidly and are so completely and smugly certain about their beliefs.

I make a point to read Samantha Fields’ blog even though our journeys away from fundamentalism are taking us to different places. I continue to read because I’m secure in my atheism but want to remind myself that there are people who are on their own journey and not stuck being Goldilocks believers in anything.

This is where the second tweet comes in. I have had a really hard time keeping this blog updated because I feel like I need to think through all possibilities and round up sources and polish and shine whatever I write. Ta-Nehisi Coates is talking about an essay where he explores reparations for descendants of enslaved persons and was disappointed that his piece was viewed as a final, authoritative solution rather than part of a conversation about how to deal with America’s history of white supremacy.

This is bad. I don’t have a solution, but I do know that the internet seems a poorer place when people can’t bounce ideas around because they’ll be viewed as having staked out a position.

So here I am again. I’m going to try to use this space for ideas and thoughts while guarding against my own fundamentalist training.

We’ll see how it goes.

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