I just have to get something off my chest. It’s been driving me nuts, and this blog is really my only outlet for issues like this. So here goes…
Watched a documentary yesterday where, during an interview, a pastor of a huge mega church in Colorado was asked why they felt it was ok, nay, mandatory, to sort of get up into people’s grill and essentially force them to hear their take on Jesus, being saved, going to Hell, etc.
When asked, his reply was this. “I am a Coke drinker…I love the stuff, but because we live in a pluralistic society, because I like Coke, I am forced to watch Pepsi commercials. I own a GM truck, but I am forced to watch Ford commercials.”
Let me just break down a couple problems that I have with the good reverend’s comments.
A. You never, EVER have to watch a Pepsi or Ford commercial. You ALWAYS have the option of turning it off, changing the channel, not looking at the newspaper, ignoring the billboard, etc. You have complete and TOTAL free will in this regard.
B. Someone I don’t know or trust, stopping me in the street, jumping in my way and telling me I need to be saved (or whatever it might be…just using this guy as my example) is a complete fallacy of comparison with the whole Coke vs Pepsi thing. Now if a dude in a Pepsi suit would jump in front of me in line at the Chevron counter, and hold a can of cola up to my face and demand that I drink it, then maybe the comparison works. But they don’t. Therefore it doesn’t.
Let me tell you how I have come to understand free will, and what I like to call, “my circle of influence”.
My circle of influence is small, and rightly so. Mine is primarily my family and closest friends. An example: It is right and good for me to sit my kids down and help them understand the physical and social dangers of smoking, drinking, drugs, etc. This is my mandate…my job as dad. To help them make good choices, and thereby have a strong understanding of the consequences, be they good or bad, to the choices they might make.
There are two parts to this: Helping them make good choices, but maybe more importantly, give them an understanding that they have no right to judge others for engaging in the things I warn them about. To simplify, Nick knows its bad to smoke, but Nick also knows that it’s bad to ridicule or chide others who choose to smoke. This applies to anything…just using smoking as an example.
Back to the religion thing. Someone else in this documentary, when asked why they are so in peoples faces all the time, said the following: “This nation was founded on these principles, and we have to make sure to do our part to bring people to Christ.”
This country (the US) was founded on some important principles, but not the ones this guy thinks. I love this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
“Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. “
Even more to my point:
“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.“
And lastly, one of my all time favorite quotes from him, or anyone:
“It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.“
I believe ever so strongly, that people need to respect others and their right to make choices of their own. To act otherwise, is lame. LAME!
In the end, enjoy the circle of influence you have to do some freaking good in this freaking world. That makes a bigger dent, difference, and change than any amount of time screaming into the faces of people you don’t agree with.
Take us out again, Thomas: “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.”
I hear ya, brotha! I hear ya.