In a year of history when pretty much anyone who will ever join facebook is now on facebook, those seemingly out-of-touch souls living without it most likely see it a different way: They don’t want to be found. The facebook search proves empty. But not everyone who is lost wants to be found.
And while some people never find what they are looking for, some simply aren’t trying to find anything.
I am not one of those people. After thinking about it a lot, I’m convinced that even if I wasn’t raised in the Buckle of the Bible Belt, I would still end up where I am today in my spiritual beliefs. I’m intrigued by this mysterious Middle Eastern religion based on an ancient book that explains the origin of the universe and ancient mankind. That predicted the life of a man who would wreck the traditional religious laws as he died for his radical and offensive beliefs, then brought hope to his followers by strangely coming back to life after his body was mangled beyond human resemblance.
The way I view Christianity is similar to the concept of the show LOST. It begins with normal people trying to adapt to living in a less than perfect land. There are struggles for power, unseen dangers, continued plans for rescue and escape, and supernatural occurrences that can not be explained. Time goes on and they begin to realize their dwelling place has a history which is cursed from whatever it was that happened in the past, mysteriously involving ties back to Egypt. The more they look, the more they find. What began as a drama and action show in the first season evolved into a sci-fi show as seasons went on, losing many of its original viewers by the time the ancient Jacob was finally revealed last season.
While many people do enjoy sci-fi, many do not. It either repels or attracts a person. Sci-fi is abstract. It’s imaginary until proven literal. This train of thought led to the realization: Christianity is about as sci-fi as it gets.
The following paragraph is how Wikipedia defines science fiction: “A genre of fiction. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically-established or scientifically-postulated law of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”. Science fiction is largely based on writing entertainingly and rationally about alternate possibilitiesin settings that are contrary to known reality.”
Again, as I put it, imaginary until proven literal. But my spiritual beliefs are not built on fiction, they are based on a book translated from the ancient Latin and Greek scrolls of Moses, Paul, and Co.
Christianity is comprised of so many sci-fi elements: An alternative story of how the universe was formed, countless scientific miracles (Noah gathering all the animals on a giant boat for a year as the rest of the population is destroyed by a world-wide flood, Moses parting the Red Sea, the Seven Plagues of Egypt, Jesus’ birth, life, and resurrection, etc.), a realization that a person’s spiritual condition and relationship with their Creator affects both their current condition and their eternal one, a future life outside this universe. Very bizarre.
It should be no surprise that “the Force” in Star Wars has been compared so much to elements of Christianity. Sci-fi and religion are ultimately inseparable.
So why is Christianity so popular, not just in our country, but across the world? With sci-fi being such a stumbling block for so many people, why are so many people okay with the fact that to an outsider the entire concept of Christianity can seem like a weird fairy tale?
The major element that sets Christianity apart from all other major religions is the fact that God actually loves people and wants a daily, personal, eternal relationship with him. I’ve studied all major religions and the rest seem to feature a distant god that a person can only hope to be in good standing with by following a list of do’s and don’ts, void of love, mercy, and grace. I simply need an involved God who loves me and has a plan for my life.
It has been said that religion is for the weak. Yes, that’s the whole point. I am weak and can’t save myself. That’s sort of the whole idea behind serving God. Humility was a major part of who Jesus was when he lived on Earth. That’s the example to follow.
But interestingly, it’s not just Christianity that is laced in sci-fi. All religions are. Even for those who are truly atheists and believe that when a person dies, that’s simply the end and there’s nothing else, they still have to address the fact that the universe had to come in to existence somehow and miraculously support intelligent life. To answer that question, it takes faith in a sci-fi concept that no living person was around to see happen.
One of the major religions of the world that tends to slip under the radar is what I call “Good Personism”, which is completely different from Christianity. Based on the spiritual outline drawn in entertainment media such as Disney’s baseball movie Angels in the Outfield, if a person is good, they become an angelic being when they die and go to Heaven. If a person is really bad (mass murderers, rapists, people who slaughter seals and whales, etc.), they become a demonic creature and go to an unmentionable hell.
The reason this religious concept is so popular is because it’s one of the most non-offensive religions, while appearing to resemble whatever the popular religion of that culture is. Here’s how. The creed of followers of this faith is the following: “I’m a good person. At least I’m not as bad as (enter the name of a known felon or war tyrant).” The problem though is that creed itself shows an acknowledgement that morality should be confronted by a worthy judge.
This concept is non-offensive because it is quite vague about what exactly it takes to be bad enough to be cursed and how good a person has to be to be saved. It groups all gods together so that as long as a person believes in some sort of higher power, at least, then that makes everything okay. The origins of this faith are based on elements of Christianity, Buddhism, national tradition, and a general, innate understanding that mankind is corrupt. In this religion, Jesus is simply a “good teacher and a good man”. (Even though a good teacher and a good man wouldn’t base his teachings on lies, claiming to be the only way to God if he wasn’t.)
What if the physical, tangible life we see around us was all there really was? And we didn’t have to think about bigger things outside of that? But then someone we know dies. And it crosses our minds for at least a few minutes that there has to be something more. That leads to faith in something. Even if it involves a person unknowingly converting to Good Personism.
“From emptiness to everything, everyone believes.” -John Mayer (“Belief”)