Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 3

Want to hear something interesting? When I was a Buddhist, I was never embarrassed to carry around Buddhist texts or literature. I would walk into class, plop the books down right next to me on my desk or podium and begin my lecture. I didn't care if people knew I was Buddhist or even if they criticized it. I've only been a Catholic (and Christian) for three days now and already I have felt embarrassed about carrying around my bulky Bible.

Why is that?

Some might say that since Buddhism is very far removed from the what is typically considered part of American religiosity, that I used it as a way to appear more interesting, thoughtful or unique. Ordinary people often try things like that to get more attention. That is not an unusual trait for people and it's not that unusual for me, either. I wouldn't go so far as saying that I intentionally sought out unconventional styles of living though. I think it's more that some things simply suit me better than others. I don't think it's that, though. No. I think that it's much more simple.

I've never liked the demeanor of overtly charismatic Christians. Most people don't. Last night in class, I pulled out my Bible in order to get my laptop out of my bag. A student saw it and casually grimaced. No one ever did so when I pulled out very clearly marked Buddhist texts. What is about Christianity that repels people like me and that student?


I guess the best way to start this is by saying that I am not a biblical scholar. In fact, I am just the opposite. It's for that reason that I believe my interpretation to be somewhat unique. I am approaching this month with almost no solid experience. The emotions I feel when reading the Bible are not soiled by years of indoctrination or clear denominational biases. So, before your so inclined to start criticizing my emotional responses to the Bible, remember that I am approaching this with no agenda or framing. I am simply wading in the waters and relaying my honest responses to you.

As of right now, I have finished Matthew, Mark and Luke. I'm in the middle of John. There is no denying the good messages. I like a lot of what I'm reading. Matthew, however, scares me a bit. He's full of threats and insults.
"Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others". -Matthew 7: 1-2
Alright. I'm okay with this. It's very karmic. I certainly shouldn't be judging others, but why does God need to seek revenge on me if I do? After all, Matthew 5: 38-42 tells me to not to take revenge on someone who wrongs me. Why can't God live by his own words? Luke (Luke 6: 29-30) is much more subtle, but still allows God to be hypocritical. This is all very frustrating to me.

I've spent the last few nights sitting quietly in bed, eagerly reading the Bible. Last night, my wife asked what I was going to do before bed and I replied, "Read the Bible." Just saying those words made me feel more spiritually connected to Christianity, but then I begin to read and I don't feel good at all. I feel threatened, guilty and faced with a reality that seems impossible to adhere to. In fact, I've been called a "hypocrite" by Matthew several times already. I don't think he likes me.

When disciplining naughty or misbehaving children, what is the best method? Should I shout, scare or threaten them? Or should I get down to their level and relate to them? The Christian god clearly prefers to keep very tight control of his people as he assumes them all to be evil, sinful monsters. To me, it seems God is the reason that Christians get a bad wrap. Too many of them preach in an all-or-nothing manner because they learn it from him.

Of course, there were some good things that I stumbled across. Forgiveness is huge part of Christianity and that is a spectacular message to push. I have very few people in my life that I actually need to forgive, so I'm lucky. What I'm going to be wondering tomorrow is this simple question:

Do I need to be seeking forgiveness from others that I have wronged? Is it confession time?

Also, this week has been VERY busy for me, but I'm all caught up now. Expect me to get back on the normal posting schedule tomorrow. I have a lot to share.


  1. So you do not think Matthew likes you....that made me laugh. This is truly wonderful to read and you actually are hitting the nail on the head of a few things I have struggled with. Write on.....

  2. LOL..

    Apparently Xtianity makes you incapable of spelling correctly.

    I didn't notice this while you were Buddhist?

    and disliking it from the get go? The book is too bulky? You imagine viewers judge you harshly?

    I'm a Christian loather, but this is an unfair start...

    Also.. if its science, you have to post as much on every religion...

    "I'm busy" is a bullshit response for this year-long test...

    still a fan...

  3. Ha! I had to use IE for the publishing this go-around. Errors are likely. You know Korean systems.

    "Unfair" maybe, but I'm following the words of the Book and the Father. It's about to get a bit more personal and in-depth, so be patient.

    What would I expect from an Eng. Lit prof, though? Don't lie. You're just waiting for Islam and Jainism.

    "Busy" is valid. I was only a few hours behind. Are you that anal?

    I won't judge you, but God will. So --you know--have fun with that.

  4. Interesting thoughts....thanks for being so candid. No one will ever fully understand God as He, only, is omniscient (if you are in accord with Christian beliefs). However, if we give it a fair chance, I believe that we are enlightened greatly as we read through the entire Bible. On another note...we have to remember, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and much of the Old Testament (books of the prophets...)surrounds the Law. Therefore, to fully appreciate what God did in sending His Son to die in our place, it's helpful to read the Old Testament first. The events of the Bible, start to finish, are in chronological order...Old to New Testament (nothing new to you, I know). It can get a bit tough to stay the course in Numbers and gets better (I have to remind myself of that every time I try to read it). ;)

  5. Reason people may cringe when you whip out your Bible? -- too many Bible thumpers in the world.

    Also, Kristin makes a good point about the Law, especially in terms of the Old Testament, which is all about laws, regulations, restrictions,and punishments being imposed or meted out by Yahweh. My understanding is that while Jesus might have been the fulfillment of the Law, he was also there to challenge it, and challenge it he did, with Mercy and Love and Forgiveness, as you mentioned. You're right you don't see that so much in Matthew, but it abounds in the other Gospels.

  6. May I make two brief suggestions as you move through Christianity, coming from someone who started a similar search about 7 years back; It is important to keep the question of truth in the background. Having nearly finished the Gospels, ask yourself if you believe its true. Secondly, you can not study the history of Catholicism seriously without studying Orthodoxy, since for the first millenium the church existed as one entity. Again, I speak from experience here, having converted from Catholicism ti Orthodoxy. The best way to truly get the mind of the original church is to go to the original sources, after finishing the New Testament look to the volumes of the Ante-Nicean and the Post Nicean Fathers, they are the voice of continuity within the development of Christian thought as it occurred, not some academic opinion of the post-scholastic era. there is, obviously, more reading there than can be finished in a month, or a lifetime, but if you have any other questions along the way, let me know
    peace be