Sunday, May 15, 2005

guilt, fear, and good talks

I have a friend who is at least a bit wary of religion. She would say she grew up in a "very religious home," and that her upbringing did little to endear the church to her. She reported that she once became irate when she thought a friend of hers asked if she "knew anything about Jesus," as if this friend was working a covert angle of friendship evangelism, and was choosing her moment to pounce with a gospel message. As it turns out, her friend was wondering if she "knew anything about cheeses," (which is actually a mistake that has stymied North American missionaries for generations.)
Well I was talking to this irreligious friend of mine recently and I shared a bit of what I had learned at a meeting about mountaintop removal in West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. I told her how convicted I got from the meeting, and how I was trying to take cold showers and such. She stepped in and warned me about allowing a conviction, either one religious or one environmental, to reap guilt in me. This would not be productive. This would only generate more guilt when I fail to live up to my own standards.
This from my supposedly irreligious friend; this from one from whom I did not expect such a beautiful lesson. Fear and guilt is clearly not the appropriate or loving response to the presentation I experienced. Nor do I think Jesus would have us cowering before the rulers of this world, despite their large machines and poor decisions to date. I think He'd have us spontaneous, free, loving, gladly renouncing some freedoms so that less coal may be used to keep our lights on.
And I know my non-religious friend wouldn't want me to live in guilt and fear. When these things reign they leave no room for surprisingly good talks.

1 comment:

ryan k said...

"There is, I am sure, such a thing as a sense of guilt about historical writings, but I have the strongest doubts about the usefulness of a guilty conscience as a motivation; a man, I think, can be much more dependably motivated by a sense of what would be desirable than by a sense of what has been deplorable."
-Wendell Berry,
The Hidden Wound, p. 82