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  3. Anyone else find it more difficult to be a Christian in America...

User Info: xenoswug

xenoswug
1 month ago#1
So I've just wrapped up my most recent vacation in Costa Rica, and as someone who was previously averse to traveling, I've found that I'm severely depressed by having to come back to American life.

This isn't a fleeting notion of wanting to be back on the beach or being away from work, either. It's a fundamental realization that we have, seemingly solely because of the pursuit of wealth (that's not even our own), helped to build an empire that absolutely loathes us, which creates the most disagreeable living circumstances imaginable in exchange for the mantra that "no other country has our freedom, opportunity and wealth."

===========

How does this relate to the topic title?

The collective takeaway from my international travels (which aren't super extensive, but do hit all corners of the globe) is that people are much more indicative of the "Christian mindset" when they are poor and more closely-knit. Many of these places are "blue zones," a designation given to populations who enjoy average lifespans of > 100 years.

People know their flora/fauna (students, not tour guides). People have small houses. People walk to school in relative safety. People converse with each other. There is landscape to bask in. Families live together. People have daily practices of reminding themselves of life's precious quality (i.e., They say "Pura vida," instead of "hello.").

===========

I can't quite articulate it, because it's so foreign a concept to life in America. I'm distracted here. I'm angry here. I'm constantly pulled into public controversies involving politics and social unrest. I'm constantly looking up new videogames to escape to. I'm pumping fast food into my bloodstream on a daily basis.

I don't know, peeps.

I feel like this as close as one could hope to get to being a Christian in the Roman Empire. I think that people are closest to God when they work the land, and that spreadsheets and business speak make it impossible to be a "normal," lowly person.

============

People in Costa Rica work HARD. Long shifts in the sun, oftentimes doing manual labor. And yet, they meet on the beach during breaks and after work to set up soccer/volleyball nets and play together. They stay at school after hours, not to do homework, but because they interact with one another and are not keen to escape into their electronic devices ASAP.

=============

This is a meandering rant, but does anyone else feel the sting of "wealth" and "freedom?" I long for a more simple life, and am ever losing my ability to seek after it.

User Info: dhalsimrocks

dhalsimrocks
1 month ago#2
I'm an atheist and I agree with you (though to be fair, "Stoic" would probably be a more applicable descriptor for me in this context). I feel that we in the US have very deep cultural problems that stems from very poor values. As a culture, I feel we place far too much value in:

-What others think about us
-How we appear to others
-Needing to win or associate with winners of competitions
-Needing to feel right, not willing to be wrong
-Education for the sole purpose of earning money, and not self-improvement
-Showing off our identity
-Cars, gigantic pickup trucks, electronics, labels, tattoo of the week, convenience items, marble countertops, etc. Material wealth. Not true wealth, but just owning STUFF. So much that we have to pay extra for a place to put the extra stuff (storage units are a booming business)
-Consuming entertainment and sports
-Consumption in general

I'm not 100% clear on what you mean by "an empire that loathes us", specifically who the "us" is, but 75% of the country identifies as Christian. I think it's fairly obvious that most of the people who perpetuate this culture of materialism would actually identify as Christian. I know that in my own personal experience that is the case.

About 7 years ago my wife and I realized that we had been taking an active part in this culture and took quite a few steps to get away. It was like waking up from the Matrix. We simplified our lives quite a bit. We moved to a quiet neighborhood in a small town where people sit on their porches when the weather is nice and invite each other over for cookouts. I left higher paying but stressful software engineering work to become a community college teacher.

Overall, we stepped away from high consumption and live much more simple, frugal lives. We have a lot more time to spend with family and friends, and instead of consuming entertainment, we engage in productive hobbies. We've saved quite a bit of money too, which we put away instead of spending. It's a lot easier to live a peaceful life without debt and the fear of emergency expenditures hanging over your head.

So it's definitely possible to live a simpler life in the US, though I figure where you live probably affects how easy it is.
May all your disgraces be private

User Info: xenoswug

xenoswug
1 month ago#3
dhalsimrocks posted...
I'm not 100% clear on what you mean by "an empire that loathes us", specifically who the "us" is, but 75% of the country identifies as Christian. I think it's fairly obvious that most of the people who perpetuate this culture of materialism would actually identify as Christian. I know that in my own personal experience that is the case.

By "us," I was actually referring to American citizens in general, not Christians. It is as you say. We're so concerned about these superficial labels that we carry (i.e., "free," "most powerful") that we're willing to be stressed, angry and vile for the system that carries us. I don't give a rat's toosh about our flag or world identity of being an American. I care about morality, human decency and the environment.

I refer to America as an empire because it is the modern equivalent of a Rome or Babylon. Wealthy, militant and "free." The allure is easy to fall into, but it's ultimately void of spirit/happiness/goodness.

dhalsimrocks posted...
About 7 years ago my wife and I realized that we had been taking an active part in this culture and took quite a few steps to get away. It was like waking up from the Matrix. We simplified our lives quite a bit. We moved to a quiet neighborhood in a small town where people sit on their porches when the weather is nice and invite each other over for cookouts. I left higher paying but stressful software engineering work to become a community college teacher.

Overall, we stepped away from high consumption and live much more simple, frugal lives. We have a lot more time to spend with family and friends, and instead of consuming entertainment, we engage in productive hobbies. We've saved quite a bit of money too, which we put away instead of spending. It's a lot easier to live a peaceful life without debt and the fear of emergency expenditures hanging over your head.

I'm quite envious, and this is very inspiring. I'm going to start immediately looking into alternative career paths. My wife has recently offered to invest in some venture, if I could muster the "case" together. She has the larger income, and is also discontent with her pharmacy job.

The trouble is that complacency often sets in, the moment I start to flirt with ideas. I'm not in debt, and my individual income (~$45K/year) allows me to pay all of our bills and to fulfill my hobbies. My problem is that the things I want have no monetary value/price. I want what you have, man!

I want porch-sitting, small house/neighbors and those who have similar pursuits. They don't have to be Christians, because as you allude to, these are often the most superficial/morally-bankrupt people on planet Earth.

User Info: iwasapoetonce

iwasapoetonce
1 month ago#4
This is an interesting question. Quite thought provoking to me actually.

First, I'm not a Christian. I'm a Muslim. And I live in America (born and raised).

To answer the topic title but change Christian to Muslim, the answer is two fold.

As a civilian living in a very diverse part of America, it is extremely easy to be a practicing Muslim. I know Muslims from Texas, and some from more conservative and homogeneous parts of America, and they say the same thing. Its a strange phenomenon.
An imam (religious leader) who was born here but lived a great length in the Middle East has said that in America, you'll find Muslims who are more practicing than those that live in the Middle East. Perhaps its because we're forced to establish our own mosques and communities, knowing that they won't be built on their own. I don't know. I can't personally attest to that.

Second part. As a former service member of the military of the US, I found it extremely difficult to practice. Too many details to list, but its always mission first in the military. If that means not praying to do your duty, then that's how it has to be.

But the thought provoking part of all this is that what is the ideal Christian society? It doesn't necessarily have to be a theocracy, but what culture would it promote? If it would be in the form of a theocracy, then so be it, but if its in the form of something else, what would it be?
I need a bit of help lads with some rushes ya know like helix rush n tech spam, do you lot know anymore?/v316/samuraifaith/mad.jpg

User Info: xenoswug

xenoswug
1 month ago#5
iwasapoetonce posted...
This is an interesting question. Quite thought provoking to me actually.

First, I'm not a Christian. I'm a Muslim. And I live in America (born and raised).

To answer the topic title but change Christian to Muslim, the answer is two fold.

As a civilian living in a very diverse part of America, it is extremely easy to be a practicing Muslim. I know Muslims from Texas, and some from more conservative and homogeneous parts of America, and they say the same thing. Its a strange phenomenon.
An imam (religious leader) who was born here but lived a great length in the Middle East has said that in America, you'll find Muslims who are more practicing than those that live in the Middle East. Perhaps its because we're forced to establish our own mosques and communities, knowing that they won't be built on their own. I don't know. I can't personally attest to that.

Second part. As a former service member of the military of the US, I found it extremely difficult to practice. Too many details to list, but its always mission first in the military. If that means not praying to do your duty, then that's how it has to be.

But the thought provoking part of all this is that what is the ideal Christian society? It doesn't necessarily have to be a theocracy, but what culture would it promote? If it would be in the form of a theocracy, then so be it, but if its in the form of something else, what would it be?

You're exactly right in your analysis.

It is easy to claim Christian status in America, as I have religious freedom to do so. However, it is hard -in my view - to actually walk by the principles set forth by God in Christ in everyday life. Most of what we'd deem normal, Western life is - in my view - incompatible with the Christian "Way." There are tons of "freedoms" that Christians are called to remain wholly abstinent from that we partake in as a matter of living functioning lives.

But that's not really the direction I was going with this. I was thinking more in terms of how hard it is to 1) simply find God in the busyness of corporate work, politics and traffic, and 2) how partaking in the accumulation of wealth (either as a wealthy individual or by the daily grind of being forced to think in terms of profits/money by corporate leaders) is antithetical to the Christian way.

================

iwasapoetonce posted...
But the thought provoking part of all this is that what is the ideal Christian society? It doesn't necessarily have to be a theocracy, but what culture would it promote? If it would be in the form of a theocracy, then so be it, but if its in the form of something else, what would it be?

In my mind, it would look like my local bridge ministry (homeless outreach), but on a national level. There would be no fear between races or political parties; the only uniting factor between folk would be their insistence on compassion. There would be no class division; everyone would be fixated on the same goal of charity. There would be no need for military, as people would abide by the principle of forgiveness. There would no longer be the strained relationship between employee and boss, because all would operate in a continual state of empathy and respect.

The first would be last, and the last, first. The "masters" of society would be dedicate their lives to serving the least. The least of society would want to honor their masters.

No weapons. No large cities. On, and on and on.
(edited 1 month ago)

User Info: lydiaquayle

lydiaquayle
1 month ago#6
xenoswug posted...
I can't quite articulate it, because it's so foreign a concept to life in America. I'm distracted here.

Go join a hippie commune or a Buddhist community. They have those things.

Also, welcome to prosperity gospel ruining American Christianity. f***ing white conservatives.
[Feminist][CisGender][Straight Supporter][Non-Binary]
I'm not Ashamed to Dress 'like a Woman' because I don't think it's Shameful to be a Woman. ~Iggy Pop~
(edited 1 month ago)

User Info: zinformant

zinformant
1 month ago#7
I find the big-R Romantic ideas expressed herein captivating but am too far down the rabbit hole to ever disengage, myself. A few related points:

1. What about peaceful but godless societies? Surely, there are innumerable small villages in China or, even, southeast Asia (maybe India, though the socioeconomic disparity there is noteworthy) that embody these ideals without the Gospel component.

2. Jesus lived nomadically within a godless world. An arguably Christian society, then, would hardly be a society at all (at least, I don't know the term for it). It would be a behavior expressed by believers within the larger framework, one largely incompatible with the whole. Theocracy isn't the answer, as you can't even get ascetics to behave themselves in accordance with the Commandments, let alone anyone less pious.

3. You can find the life discussed in the opening post in rural America. I wouldn't want to live there, but many of these folks don't wrestle with the same stressors that those of us caught up in the maelstrom of competition deal with daily. Though I'm unsure what the data says, I don't actually think their simpler lives affords them much closer of a relationship with God; rather, having less demands on them gives them more time to get into trouble, if anything. It's not all community bonfires and sofas on the front porch.
Is it naive to dream of a world without war?

User Info: iwasapoetonce

iwasapoetonce
1 month ago#8
xenoswug posted...
1) simply find God in the busyness of corporate work, politics and traffic, and 2) how partaking in the accumulation of wealth (either as a wealthy individual or by the daily grind of being forced to think in terms of profits/money by corporate leaders) is antithetical to the Christian way.


Time for me to learn something...

Isn't there a balance to these things? Simply put, is being rich a sin? Is wanting to find good work a sin? If the pleasures of this Earth is overwhelming someone, then that I understand. However, is simply trying to live in the society present an evil all in itself?

Lets take someone with a very plain but respectable job. A construction worker or vehicle repair man, for example. Can this person go to work, remember God and be thankful, accumulate his money, and then go home to live his life in relative virtue? Is this not the Christian way?

Mind you, not everyone can become monks, or just normal a person spreading gospel all the time. There are respectable roles that need to be filled still.

xenoswug posted...
I can't quite articulate it, because it's so foreign a concept to life in America.


^ Lets start with this, and follow up with the below:

xenoswug posted...

In my mind, it would look like my local bridge ministry (homeless outreach), but on a national level. There would be no fear between races or political parties; the only uniting factor between folk would be their insistence on compassion. There would be no class division; everyone would be fixated on the same goal of charity. There would be no need for military, as people would abide by the principle of forgiveness. There would no longer be the strained relationship between employee and boss, because all would operate in a continual state of empathy and respect.


Is this concept only foreign to America, or is this foreign worldwide? I'll have to reach far back to my college/high school days and remember the fundamentals of communism (cue in, "read a book, dammit!" post), but what you're suggesting does seem a lot like the goals of communism. Which, I'm not saying is a bad thing, just that people have tried this before.

This is ideal, and I asked for you the ideal, so your answer is fair. However, what would be the first steps to accomplish this on a large scale?
I need a bit of help lads with some rushes ya know like helix rush n tech spam, do you lot know anymore?/v316/samuraifaith/mad.jpg

User Info: iwasapoetonce

iwasapoetonce
1 month ago#9
lydiaquayle posted...

Go join a hippie commune or a Buddhist community. They have those things.

Also, welcome to prosperity gospel ruining American Christianity. f***ing white conservatives.


I assume when you say "Buddhist" community that you're referencing those buddhist monks who live apart from modern society. You know, those guys we see on TV who meditate all the time (according to Hollywood). I might be totally way off base here.

1. Do these Buddhist communities actually exist?

2. I don't believe Christianity in itself actually encourages this. More on this later, if I'm actually understanding all this correctly.

zinformant posted...

1. What about peaceful but godless societies? Surely, there are innumerable small villages in China or, even, southeast Asia (maybe India, though the socioeconomic disparity there is noteworthy) that embody these ideals without the Gospel component.


Sure. These virtues are not exclusive to God believing religions. There can be a whole discussion on this, but the basic answer to this is that he is CHristian and he would prefer the Christian approach to peacefulness (for lack of better words).

zinformant posted...
3. You can find the life discussed in the opening post in rural America. I wouldn't want to live there, but many of these folks don't wrestle with the same stressors that those of us caught up in the maelstrom of competition deal with daily. Though I'm unsure what the data says, I don't actually think their simpler lives affords them much closer of a relationship with God; rather, having less demands on them gives them more time to get into trouble, if anything. It's not all community bonfires and sofas on the front porch.


skipping 2 because I don't know how to answer that.
I think I need to understand sin better in Christianity. Is it a sin to live life in society? I understand Jesus didn't live like anyone who is living now (obviously), but just because he didn't live like that, doesn't mean its sinful or even discouraged. Or am I wrong here?
Can a person wake up in the morning, go to work, pay his bills, come back home ot his family and generally lead a life of virtue and worship and be deemed a good person?
I need a bit of help lads with some rushes ya know like helix rush n tech spam, do you lot know anymore?/v316/samuraifaith/mad.jpg

User Info: OrangeWizard

OrangeWizard
1 month ago#10
iwasapoetonce posted...
Can a person wake up in the morning, go to work, pay his bills, come back home ot his family and generally lead a life of virtue and worship and be deemed a good person?


By who?
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