Lent and Hypocrisy – Day 5

There were two responses to my accepting this challenge.  The first was that it was a great idea and they were interested to see how it went.  The other was that it was ridiculous and if I am an Atheist why am I even giving something up.  Why participate in Lent?

Why participate in Lent? Why not?  No one gives it any thought when we put up a Christmas tree, lights on our house or say Merry Christmas to people.  No one has ever questioned us when we participate in Easter Egg hunts and the giving of Easter baskets to the kids.  Why can’t I participate in Lent?  Why do I have to justify this to people?  I assume it is because there is a huge consumer side to both Christmas and Easter but not Lent.  For Lent you are giving up something.  Who would do that willingly?  My answer to that is EVERYONE.  Every year people make new year’s resolutions and most people’s include giving up something.  Maybe they don’t say they are giving up something, but doing something different and that something different is a sacrifice even if it is just the sacrifice of your old ways. If it wasn’t a sacrifice one wouldn’t wait until the beginning of the year – one would start when the thought occurred.

I like participating in Lent only because much like the beginning of the year it gives me a start date but unlike new years resolutions it gives me an end date.  Much easier to change a habit, give up something or do something new if you know it is only temporary.  I find it a personal challenge to myself, even if only temporary.

Of course the short answer is “because I want to”.  Really it doesn’t need to be much more than that.

I do think it is a bit hypocritical of the Christians who have questioned what I am doing.†  Hypocritical because shouldn’t you just assume that this might be one of those mysterious ways in which God works?  I know that with the few things in my life I feel very strongly about if someone said that they would truly try to see it the other way (aka my way) for 6 weeks I would be ecstatic.  I would assume that there was NO WAY they could come out of that 6 weeks without changing their mind.

Hypocritical because atheists are chastised for not believing in the awesome power of your god while it seems that you might not have faith in that power either.

In that funny way things work todays message at church was all about hypocrisy*.   It was about the hypocrisy of Christians.  I was almost knocked over because if Atheists went to church they very well would have had the same sermon and used the same chapter to come to the same conclusion.

The rules of many churches, like the dress code whether unwritten or not, the belief that if you do certain things you surely cannot be a Christian.  The minister spoke of people turning away from Christ because people are not practicing what they preach.  I almost felt like shouting out a big ol AMEN.

What was not hypocritical today was the people I met.  Granted the introductions were not “This is Dy-Anne an Atheist”  but everyone was incredibly nice and tried to make sure we were comfortable and well taken care of.  When the Minister came to introduce himself I did make it known what I was doing in his church and he was accepting. Actually he was beyond accepting.  He was concerned that I was nervous (because I had said I was) and came back to check on me about 15 minutes after we met, then after services he made sure to let me know I could call or email him and that he would also love to hear my impressions of not only the church but the members of the church.

I can see why people like the culture of this type of church.  I have talked about my feelings about “blue jean Christians” and church in a school here.  My opinion on church in a school has definitely been changed.   I really liked church in a school.  Coming from the more traditional religious experiences and background, this was such an inviting and relaxed atmosphere.

Overall I had a surprisingly good time.

__________________________________________________
* The specific scriptures that were focused on were Matthew 23
† I was questioned by Atheists also; I just already had anticipated their responses.

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20 thoughts on “Lent and Hypocrisy – Day 5

  1. Hi Dy-Anne

    I’ve been reading over the last few days as they come in and I have a question. Although this is a challenge from a friend, how much of an effort are you REALLY making to “immerse yourself in Christian culture”? You continue to post atheist material and mindset, you tell people about your experiment, it doesn’t seem like that much of an immersion or experiment if you are revealing to people who you interact with what you are doing. If you are going to walk in the shoes of others, shouldn’t you take your own shoes off first? I’m not saying that you should deceive people but I think that is where some Christians who are reading this are getting confused. Don’t forget that we weren’t all born Christian and that wearing your shoes is not foreign to all Christians. Some of us have lived our lives in shoes just like yours.

    As for hypocrisy, being a Christian is not the easy life, in reality it is the hardest thing I have ever done but it is better than the life I had without Him. God doesn’t just call us directly, he uses friends, family or foes to speak to us. He may be subtle over a period of time or he may be sudden and immediate in his call. Looks like you might have got the subtle card…..

    You asked about bible reading, I think that if you have a KJV and are comfortable with that, use the bible you have. I have various bibles for study purpose but my trusty bible is the NLT because it’s light and fits in my bag and I like the amplified because it goes deeper in explanation of verses. If you want a Christian experience, follow Jesus’ example, since that is what Christians are called to do – for me I read on the train each morning for an hour and throughout the day and at night. I read it when I’m in trouble, I read it when I’m not in trouble. God’s Word can be read whenever but is usually accompanied with prayer – I don’t read without the intent to get to know my God or to hear from Him. He has never let me down and I am a doer.

    As for prayer, the bible says we should worry about nothing and pray about everything. Prayer is conversational, out loud, in our mind, in our heart and prayer is intentional. Don’t just chuck a prayer out there… You mentioned you had prayer requests, instead of speaking ‘floaters’ into the air, immerse yourself in the ‘Christian culture’ and speak with intent about the things that people have asked you to pray for in the areas that will help others i.e. health, breakthrough in tough situations, provisions of need

    All I can say lady, it seems hypocritical of you to say you will ‘give up atheism for lent’ and take up a challenge to “wear someone elses shoes” and provide a whole defense on it including Christmas and Easter, without considering the experiment you have embarked on to walk with us. I saw your Christian mate’s comment… Big wow, a Christian endorsement lol… C’mon Dy-Anne – what are you giving up for lent if anything at all? If you’re going to do it, go hard out…just seems like a half pie effort, if any pie at all…?

    I’d like to recommend a couple of preachers on free podcasts – I listen to these on the way to work and at work or around the house.

    IN Penrith – Jack Hanes, Wayne Alcorn (This Day and That Day), Jamie Peters, Don Matheny, Tom Renard
    Cottonwood Weekly – Bayless Conley
    John MacArthur

    Just a suggestion for days you don’t get to the bible. Any way, the reason for your blog is to get a response right? Well that’s mine. I hope I have not offended you in any way, just interested to see more of the giving up and less of the holding on to during your experiment.

    • What else is she supposed to do? She isn’t participating in atheist groups online, she’s trying to change how she thinks during the course of the experiment, she’s being open minded and trying to understand where Christians come from, she’s reading the Bible, attending church, mingling with Christians, she’s praying, she’s reading books about Christianity, she’s even listening to Christian radio! What more do you want? Should she apply for a part time job at a Christian bookstore? Wear a cross around her neck? Hit up all the Christian potlucks?

    • Oh, and why do you think being a Christian American is somehow harder than being atheist? Is it that whole “love of persecution” weirdness your religion has, that makes you think you actually have it hard? Maybe the personal lifestyle is more difficult for you, but saying that Christians have it harder is a joke.

      Here’s a satire that pretty much sums it up – http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/AntiXtian.htm

      • LOL (I’m not laughing at you, just the response – so not what I had expected)…. Whoa people! Oh Boy… I think I bunched some undies!

        Sorry Dy-Anne, in no way was I attacking you and it seems your Aunt and one of your mates is offended by what I said. I said Praise God when I saw your post from the very start because He really does move in mysterious ways. Whether or not you believe it. I think it is awesome that you have decided to step out, which is more than what some Christians do – what I said was in no way to criticize you negatively, I read the comments of others and I see your point but at the same time I am encouraging you (or challenging you rather) in this. If you are doing all those things that you mate said you are doing, then tell us about that!

        I am enjoying your blog (and the comment reactions lol) and you write really well, which also is an attraction for me – I like interesting writers. I don’t normally read atheist material, I find the sarcasm and critical nature of a lot of the bloggers I come across is quite hard – not sure if you know what I mean? I can see you are intelligent which is why I encouraged intent behind prayer and bible time (I was referring to Day 4 but I guess I should blog on the correct day so as not to offend your close peeps!). Lent is a time to fast, no? Fasting is a Christian fundamental and the fact that you are attempting it at all amazes me. I wouldn’t go back to unbelief if you paid me to! Been there, not going back.

        I think you know what I am suggesting but for those of you who don’t, I was only suggesting ‘if you’re going to give a go, give a good hard one’ i.e. I read the atheist/christian agreement link you provided – hence the question, if you’re walking in the shoes of others – shouldn’t you take yours off first?

        What is the true definition of Lent and are you doing this experiment according to that definition? My understanding is that this is a type of fasting – I don’t participate in Lent but I do fast and pray regularly and I also take part in corporate fasting. She has chosen to fast atheism aka her (non?)belief (sorry, not sure of the correct term for this in this context). I guess that’s what I want to know – maybe there are others who do too. Don’t know if you say this in America, but we say Go Hard or Go Home. It’s all I’m suggesting. Hard out or Half Pie?

        Hello Aunty Vincenza! – I’m not sure why you see me as an enemy? I think this is a great thing that she is doing. I don’t know what is in the Ignatius bible, I don’t read that, I’m not Catholic.

        You were right when you said ‘Not everyone that says Lord Lord will make it into heaven’, which is why I encouraged her to have intention behind her prayer and bible time. (Constructive, yes?) I also mentioned that I read with the intention to know my God and hear from Him.

        It’s great you know the bible, me too! When Jesus says, I NEVER KNEW YOU – if you don’t get to know Him or intend to know him intimately, he will not know you when the time comes. I also said that I didn’t mean for her to deceive people. Explain if they ask but if not why tell? Just be open to what is about to happen because that is what fasting is about: Preparing to receive from God – not just giving up something and not looking to get anything but being ready to receive. Old wine, new wine skins? Yes?

        Hello Molly, if Dy-Anne ALSO does that stuff – Glory to God! I didn’t say she had to do more.

        Dy-Anne, I am a bit rough around the edges sometimes but as straight up as you are, so am I – honestly I think what you’re doing is absolutely fantastic. PRAISE GOD! (did that make you snicker again? lol – don’t insert an expletive though :)) But this time, YOU do it. Praise him for the loving family and friends who encourage and support you through this – look at them stand up against me and others?! lol… They think I’m attacking you! I’m objective because I don’t know you personally, but Thank Him for their encouragement, their prayers, all eyes are on you darlin’… all eyes are on you.

        Next time, I’ll answer blog by blog instead of all in one blog… lol sorry!

      • Molly, do you like to twist words? Have I upset you with what I said? I didn’t say that Christians have it harder, I said it is the hardest thing I have ever done. Who’s the Christian American?

        Having no accountability for the things you do or say to people? The mocking tone in your words? I’ve stood where you are. No God, no reason, no life after this one. But God gave me something no one has been able to give me. Love. Life. I was told that I would have more lumps in my breast by the time I am 35. I am 32. Six lumps were found in my breast, one about half an inch in diameter. NO ONE knew except my husband and my parents, who live across the country (I’m in Australia, if you must know). That Sunday, during the service I received full healing in my body. Those lumps are gone and were gone by the time the Pastor finished praying. GONE.

        I have a reason to believe that God loves me and his name is Jesus. When no one loved me, God still loved me. I want to spend eternity with my Lord and I have responded to his call. Yep, I have to give up the drinking, the drugs, the gossiping, the lying, the greediness, the selfishness, the not caring about others, the arrogance, the pride, the hatred – and it is not easy, that’s what is hard. In another life, I would be cutting you right down not caring about what you think, what you feel, what you know – I was heartless and God gave me a heart and shows me how to really love. Yeah, I’m still rough around the edges – but I love God and I spend as much time as I can getting to know the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And I can tell you that giving up those things (got really high in my profession, lots of money, super unhappy, became very ill, planned my suicide) but God called me out of darkness into light and told me He loves me.

        I could never go back to the life I had before and since that day, God has changed my life, transformed me and changed my world. Giving up those things is difficult but it’s worth it for my Lord. I had nothing to left to lose, I would rather die for something, than die for nothing.

  2. >>Although this is a challenge from a friend, how much of an effort are you REALLY making to “immerse yourself in Christian culture”?<<

    So, as Dy-Anne's Catholic Aunt, I have to ask, how much more would you like her to immerse herself? She is reading not only the Bible, but other books on faith; she is going to Church and opening herself up discussions and comments here on her blog. There isn't a whole lot more she could be doing.

    Oh wait, yes there is: clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting with the sick- are these the things you are talking about? Things that people of every faith, no faith, or minimal faith, do everyday? Oh, yea, that's right…that's works. Hmmm, Mt:25:37-40 begs to differ (Ignatius Bible). Oh, while we are at it, maybe you should take a look at Mt.7:21-23…not everyone who says Lord Lord will make it into Heaven.

    You make a legitimate point in saying Dy-Anne shouldn't tell people what she is doing, but I disagree. By letting people know upfront what is going on, she isn't presenting herself falsely. Even more importantly, she is giving these people opportunities to share their faith and to be blessed. If, as Dy-Anne correctly points out, this is really God's actions in her life, then all the people who will be praying for her conversion, all the people who will share their faith with her, will be doing God's Will and so receive blessings. Or don't you believe that?

    Finally – I leave you with one more – before you jump in here and criticize Dy-Anne and offer very little in the way of constructive criticism, I suggest you read through Matthew's Gospel, paying special attention to Chapter 22. Leave Paul's letters alone for a while and just stick to Matthew. You might see things a bit more clearly.

    • I would like to add right now this is not a sponsored comment. I did NOT ask my Aunt to come and comment. I did post a genuine request on my Facebook as to what I could be doing to immerse myself more. I do not solicit comments for my blog. All I have done is ask people to share it.

  3. I think this is pretty awesome Dy-Anne. It sounds like you found an awesome church to attend also. I’m glad cause there are some not so good ones out there. I also think you are very brave because with Atheist views are stepping out of your comfort zone to immerse yourself in Christianity. You are right, I could not, as a Christian, even begin to see things as an Atheist. Honestly, I gave it some thought cause you mentioned it, and I just couldn’t do it. It is written in the Bible that if I deny Christ then He will deny me. I guess you could say I’m one of those “God fearing Christians”. Lol. Anyways, friend, you have my support in your journey. The ups and the downs of it all. God bless you Dy-Anne

  4. As one of your Christian friends and also your best friend I have to say that I did actually send up a prayer to the Lord thanking him for opening your heart in order to receive this awesome experiment suggestion from one of your friends. I also thanked him for giving your friend the right words and conviction to approach the subject as well as for guiding you towards tbe thought of even giving something up. The doors all opened up just perfectly 🙂 Even if you don’t walk away from this experiment a believer, the thirst for knowledge and the seed have been planted. It may still be weeks, months or years afterwards before you come to find Christ but that’s okay. Your heart bas been opened and that was the work of the Lord.

  5. Thanks for sharing your experiences at church for the first Sunday. I am glad you felt welcomed and that the pastor was warm, even after you told him what you were doing!

  6. I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. – Ghandi

    Sounds like an interesting experiment Dy, but figured I’d throw my two sense in. Don’t go to church, don’t model your life after other Christians, don’t stress any of the small stuff. Read your bible, doesn’t matter which one, and interpret it the way you feel is best. Then live like that. You don’t need a church or any of the other bells and whistles, nowadays the majority of Christianity and those who practice it are a joke anyway. Read, pray, and reflect; that’s all you need to do. Rant over now, good luck with your experiment. Now if you’ll excuse me this atheist has a social revolution to plot 😉

    • Actually, the majority of Christians are just people living the way they were taught by the cowards who found the Gospels to hard to take and who couldn’t let go of the power the Church gave them. It’s the vocal minority who want their cake and eat it too, the hypocrites who, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, stand there and tell everyone what to do, while they do the opposite.
      We now return you to your regularly scheduled social revolution Mongo.

  7. “Church in a school!” I had to smile at that. I’ve done church in a hotel, church in a school, and now church back in a more typical church building. 🙂 What I’ve seen over time is that while I have personal preferences, I can bend on these. What’s really important to me is solid preaching, music that is deep, rich, and still contemporary, and theology lived out in the way that people love one another and live in their community. I do appreciate what you’re doing. And, though I doubt you intended this, you are helping me to reflect on the way I, as a Christian, come across to those in my sphere who see life differently. Thank you!

  8. Dy-Ann,

    I echo Rhiannon’s sentiments. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve sent up prayers concerning you as well. Somehow, I do feel that, even though you are secure in your current belief, perhaps somewhere in your heart you are still truly searching. My husband searched for decades on three continents, and I firmly believe that he was brought halfway around the world to continue searching while he was married to me. He became a Christian after 17 years of marriage. Why wouldn’t I hold onto the same hope for you? God does move in mysterious ways – sometimes subtle, sometimes with almost a kick in the pants. (Sounds kind of irreverent, but I can’t think of a more delicate way to say it.)

    Now, as a disclaimer, let me again say that I wasn’t the most faithful Christian during times before or after our marriage. So it wasn’t that I was “all that and a bag of chips.” But still, God had plans for me and the hubby (let’s call him “Bob”), and I’m so thankful that Bob – and I – finally listened and followed where God was trying to lead us. And now, we’re still trying to do that every day. Some days we do better than others!

    All of this probably sounds kind of hocus-pocus, but I know … I know that it’s not. If you do read the Bible and pray – sincerely, even though you don’t believe now, just in a searching fashion – I am trusting that God will work in your life and your mind and your heart. Romans 10:17 says faith comes from hearing the Word, and that’s part of what you’re doing right now … listening to and reading the Word.

    I’d love to write more about my and Bob’s experience, but this is not about us; it’s about you. I do have multiple things I’d love to share with you concerning how God moved in our lives, both before Bob became a Christian (we had to move part of the year from Louisiana to California for things to fall into place in Bob’s belief process) – and even last week, when Bob asked God for a sign concerning something in regard to his health. Remember the kick in the pants reference? Well, Bob definitely got one. God IS real, and he loves us.

    Please just know that many people out here are thinking of you [see, I can use your phraseology 🙂 ]. Hang in there. I’m glad you had a good experience on your first day of visiting School Church.

  9. Oops! Sorry I spelled your name wrong, Dy-annE! As “Sallie” (as opposed to “Sally”I know that can be irritating. I had meant to check it before I hit “post.” Alas ….

  10. If your husband started being unfaithful to you would you want to continue to let him do that to you? I wouldn’t. I know I’m worth more than being treated like that. God knows He is worthy too. If my husband started being unfaithful to me I would have to let him go even though I may love him still. It not any different.

    • That’s a good comparison but you are not all forgiving where isn’t god supposed to be?
      Also you would let him go but you wouldn’t sentence him to eternal
      Fire and brimstone (despite maybe wanting to)?
      I think that’s where the confusion lies. As a person I certainly am not all forgiving. Trust me I am good at holding a grudge and not forgetting but at the same time I would never truly want horrible things to happen to those around me, not even those I would profess to hate. So why does god have to try to force your love through eternal threats instead of just letting you go?
      I would think that if heaven is so wonderful spending eternity in limbo would be a perfectly fine punishment for disbelief. No need for fire and brimstone.

      • I think that’s where the human factor gets in the way sometimes. People are really quick to point their fingers and declare who is going to heaven and who is going to hell, but in reality, we don’t know. For all we know, if hell exists, and I’m not so sure it does, it might be empty. I don’t know what the other denominations teach but in Catholicism we say that free will extends even so far as choosing Heaven or Hell – God doesn’t send us anywhere, we choose to go. So, really, who would choose Hell?

        Oh, yea, right, atheists go to Hell for denying God, right? Really…do we know that for a fact. At what point does God say all bets are off? Before death? Personally I think it’s when you stand before Him that you get to make the choice; no one is gonna convince me that the most hard core atheist, if he/she is face to face with God or who ever is there, is gonna say “nope, you don’t exist”, so I don’t believe there are any atheists in Hell at all.

        Yea, there are several places in the Gospel where Christ mentions punishment – a lake of fire, a garbage heap…goats and sheep. He also talks about a prison and how we don’t get out till the last penny of the fine has been paid and yet people still deny that Purgatory exists, so why should I believe that the lake of fire means an eternal hell.

        As far as God threatening – does He really? Seems to me that His followers make more threats than He does. I’ve read the Gospels several times and in every instance where God threatens, it’s in the context of people not loving enough, not caring about other people enough. When it comes down to it, that’s all sin really is – refusing to love.

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