I was shown this poem earlier today, and disliked it immediately.
In part, because it stands in such stark contrast to the grace-filled message of welcome in the Easter sermon of John Chrysotom that I just posted.
Chrysotom reassures all that there is a place at the table. A place for those who are committed in their religious devotions, and a place for those who are negligent. A place for those who a rich, and those who are poor. A place for those who are weary of doing good, and a place for those who are weary of failing again and again.
In contrast, ‘Odd Thomas’ begins his poem by attacking those who don’t share his beliefs. The only reasons someone might not agree with him, he says, is because they are a ‘rationalist, a relativist, a religious, or a reservationist.’
I see this too often. Christians find it hard to believe that others might have deep reasons for their own religious convictions, and so assume that they must be rejecting Christianity out of stupidity or spite.
But how would it feel to be on the receiving end of this? How would I feel if, say, a member of the Jainist faith started threatening me with punishment and death because I didn’t believe the same things that he did? What if he accused me of being stupid, of being inconsistent, of deliberately choosing to ignore the plain truths revealed in their doctrines?
The frustrating thing about this is that it’s not even hard to find out why some folks reject Christianity in North America. Thanks to books like ‘unChristian‘, we know that a majority of young people consider the church to be homophobic, judgemental, hypocritical, overly political and exclusionary.
Poems like this one that accuse sceptics of Christianity of being ignorant and stubborn do not help at all.