Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Religious Explorations

Today I had an interesting experience at school that has pretty much just left me confused and wondering. I happened to stumble upon a group of preachers on campus who were, I guess, trying to convert people to whatever it was they were preaching. I noticed the most common word on the table of free books that I stood by for half an hour was the word Christianity, but that could mean a number of things. Having to jump into the middle of already-started conversations, I did my best to ascertain the facts. Pretty much, the only thing I learned for sure was that this group of people apparently preaches mostly on the campus of USU, and is highly affiliated with Oasis Books in Logan. It looked like they were entirely preaching out the New Testament. Being the na├»ve and sheltered person that I am, I’m not very familiar with other religions so maybe they have a name and I’m just too stupid to know. But I DO know they were very anti-LDS, which was causing a lot of debate in the area.

When I first walked by, a man standing on a chair was yelling at a crowd of people saying “You’re going to hell! You are all wicked people, and I am telling you this because I love you!” In the five minutes I listened to THAT I didn’t get what the heck he was saying it for, so instead I listened to the guy at the book table talk to some students. I couldn’t really grasp the main point of what either of them were trying to say, except for the table guy kept talking about how we are never going to be perfect beings and without sin, so we should just give up on trying and abandon the commandments. He said they exist in order to show us of this evilness inside of us, so that we realize that we cannot save ourselves by works, but we must turn towards God, which is a pretty vague statement by itself.

The guy seemed to be saying that Mormons are especially bad at this – doing the works and following the rules because they think it will save them and get them to Heaven. If you’re reading this and you know me, you know that I’m Catholic, and I personally agree that this bit of the Mormon religion is quite malarkey (thought other people are the exact same way). Following rules is not going to get us to Heaven, however, for table guy to say that we don’t have to worry about correcting our sins because what we do doesn’t save us is pretty dumb. I get that we’re imperfect and we’ll never be able to stop sinning, but shouldn’t we at least put forth effort and reduce the number of harmful things we do to other people? As in, Thou Shall Not Kill?? I feel like this guy was saying we can do whatever we want in life because Christ died for our sins, therefore we’re in the clear.

They’ve got all these info cards and booklets about different stuff – I picked one up called The Impossibility of Agnosticism, because in answering someone’s question about if people go to Hell because they don’t KNOW about God, table guy said nobody doesn’t know about God so that’s not an excuse. This made me mad, so then another person was like, “What about infants who die before they can learn or comprehend anything?” And I was like yeah! (in my head), and then table guy proceeded to half-avoid the question and half-answer it with something that made no sense. So anyway, I read a little bit of the booklet at home just now and it ALSO made no sense. Thus, I am confused about the whole experience and I just don’t know what these people want from us … except to acknowledge we are sinners and can never be perfect, but after that I’m lost. So what, we’re all going to hell? By the time I left they still hadn’t told anybody what to do about it. I seriously considered the possibility that it was just one big psychology experiment to see how they could get a rise out of college kids, because they certainly managed to.

Examples of their radical advertising (there's stuff on the back, of course):


Danielle said...

I'm confused about whether they were advocating Heaven or Hell with that card thing. Anyway I wasn't there to see them so I can't make a good response to this. I think the idea of not worrying about your sins could be ok if you handle it the right way. I think in Islam they kind of do that but I'm not Islam and I haven't taken a class on them or anything. Let's just say there could be a good religion out there that doesn't focus on sin. I think that's a legit foundation. That doesn't mean you can do whatever sins you want and it'll all be ok. I think of it more as focusing on what kind of person you want to be not what bad you've done and should be punished for. Faith should be something you work towards not something you work to avoid. I don't know if that made sense but I mean it in the way that most Christians avoid sin because they know it's wrong when really they should just focus on being good because they really are different issues. Like squares and rectangles.

Shannon said...

The card wasn't advocating either, I don't think. Well, if it was either of them it was Heaven, but in a roundabout way, by telling us to have faith in God to get us there instead of trying to be perfect, sinless people. It says if you THINK you're a good person, that's not being humble and you aren't acknowledging your weaknesses, therefore you're going to hell.

Yeah I agree with what you're saying. It's ok to not have to deliberately focus on what you're doing wrong, but the way the table guy talked about it made it sound like he was pretty much avoiding trying NOT to sin, if that makes sense. One of the students asked if he follows the ten commandments and the guy just flat out said no. And it made me think like who are you to claim yourself a born again Christian and declare that you don't have to follow the commandments because you're too good for them? That's just kind of the attitude he was giving off. But now that I think about it, I think what he was trying to say is that he literally is not following them 100% because everybody makes mistakes and sins a little, so nobody ever follows the commandments completely. So that's probably what he meant, since he said something like that at a different time, but they just weren't connected.

KC said...

Shannon! I found your blog :)
I'm LDS and I've always been told that we don't focus on things that we've done bad, but the things that we've learned from those bad things and apply what we've learned in our daily lives. The "table guy" needs a better understanding of the gospels of Jesus to start throwing idealistic views that you shouldn't follow the commandments because they are a guide line in your daily life. If they are a guide line in our daily lives you'd think he'd notice that, in a complete turn-around to what he believes, he does look at the commandments and follow them to the best of his ability. My thoughts on how he showed complete and utter avoidance to the question that someone proposed to him "What about babies that haven't learned anything? Will they go to hell?" or even his statement that EVERYBODY on earth has heard of Jesus and that is no excuse to not come unto him. This shows me that he has not taken the time to study the scriptures and actually take a look at what the prophets of god have been saying these past few thousand years. Jesus Christ has said that if a lost soul has not had the chance to hear about the gospel (and there are plenty out there) or had the chance to sin, they will be dealt with differently and will come unto jesus and heavenly father when the lord's people have had a chance to show them the gospel. He also says that the raw and gritty laws of man are not to far from most of the commandments. Almost all civilizations in the world condemn murder, stealing, and other things of that nature that compromise the integrity of the common man. No mortal man can be perfect but you shouldn't stop helping your neighbor by not mowing their lawn every once in a while. Or by taking a day off of your busy schedule by helping a family member move. Jesus Christ said a man is as good as the good works he has done, and I truly believe that

Shannon said...

KC: I agree, the ten commandments are like guidelines. I think it's good to not necessarily dwell on our sins but learn from them, like you said.

Table guy didn't completely avoid the baby question, it's just that what he said was confusing to me so I couldn't repeat it. And the reason he said that everyone knows about Jesus is because somewhere in the Bible, he showed us that it says God manifests himself to everyone in some way, no matter how young or old they are. So I guess the concept of Jesus is just magically placed into their brains? whatever ... I like the Catholic answer to that question better anyhow.