We’ve all heard variations on the classic parental retort “Because I said so, that’s why!” – perhaps as kids it was when we were rebelling against a bedtime, curfew, or some other arbitrary bit of Parent Law that seemed, even at a young age, to be a haphazard and unfair abuse of misguided power. Whether it was the aforementioned ‘Because I said so’ argument, or the equally tiresome ‘As long as your living under my roof, you live by my rules’ – the end result was usually one of these 3… 1) You sucked it up, and followed the rules, even begrudgingly, 2) You went ‘rebel’ – and defied The Man, or 3) You reached a point where this existence was unbearable, and you ran away/moved out.
And while we all (mostly?) grow up and reach points in our lives, where we are the captains of our own ships, it isn’t long before we find a familiar power system in play, designed to keep us from questioning the nature of the rules within the system we are existing.
It’s a popular wire-frame – it’s not without its flaws, but it usually gets the job done, to a point.
One such place it’s seen is in the workplace environment. I think most individuals have experience(s) where in the midst of trying to accomplish some task, or achieve some goal – out of nowhere some ‘higher up’ has decided to put their foot down, and for reasons that don’t necessarily need to be explained to the common folk, their supreme wisdom is considered the law of the land, despite any evidence that would highlight foolishness at play – because…that’s just how it is.
I’ve also experience this power structure at play, on a more fundamentally accepted and revered way, within organized religion. Depending on the religion/denomination, you see this taking various forms.
As an outsider, I have found when one asks questions of the Mormons, you tend to get bumped around a lot – referred to different Elders, until you are physically invited within what could be considered an intimidating physical church environment, with a small panel of Elders, who are more keen to quote scripture and look disappointed in your limited scope of understanding, than actually having anything that resembles a conversation.
More personally, within the Christian church, I have attempted to have deep discussions with many different friends and strangers… Pastor/Preacher/Father/Reverend So-and-so’s, but also councils of church elders, as well as your average run-of-the-mill church members… from Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, and Non-denominational backgrounds.
Whenever I ask the questions that I am genuinely curious about – the things that don’t make sense, and seem a bit off, the most common response I have received, is similar to when a politician agrees to a TV interview, thinking it was going to be a fluff piece – and are then hit with some hard questions, that they didn’t see coming… There’s anger, impatience, and a general sense of ‘oh, you’re just trying to trick me’
The next most common is a sense of pity mixed with frustration, as I try to explain that quoting scripture to me, as an answer to my questions, is a bit unsatisfying when my question is about the nature of scripture being reliable in the first place. I almost prefer anger, than the wide-eyed sentimentality of one who feels so bad for me, that I can’t just accept what they are saying, ‘on faith’. Condescending pity has never been a gift I have welcomed willingly.
I don’t know much of anything about anything… I’m on a journey… work with me people. I’m seeking wisdom…I’m trying to absorb the thoughts and experiences of people from many different walks of life. I’m not trying to ‘prove you wrong’ or make you question your life’s works… and if you are afraid of someone doing that, well, you’ve encountered your own problem, that really has nothing to do with me.
The bottom line is that if you are an individual who believes faith, in any form, needs to exist as a place where questions don’t exist, just move on – I have no desire to even have the smallest of conversations with you on this topic. I am familiar with the rhetoric, I can probably quote the Bible just as quickly as you – and I would do so with historical and anecdotal context. I’m not ‘better’ than you – I’m just looking at a mighty big picture, and while I am still seeking answers and understanding, I’m not shutting any doors ‘because…that’s just how it is’.
I’m the sensical turtle, and I don’t know anything…but I’m searching.