These days we hear more and more of people “deconstructing their faith”.
This is a very real threat to religion and to individual church corporations that have buildings and salaries and budgets and pay for all of that through donations from generous, faithful believers. If deconstruction becomes a reality at these church corporations, jobs and the familiar are in danger. I honestly think this is why a common response by church corporations (and their shareholders) is to cast deconstruction as a “fad” and diminish the notion that it is actually a threat.
Some go beyond that kind of light condescension and do what religious folk have done for probably millennia: respond to the threat with a disdainful polemic (a one-sided argument) and present “arguments” that are intended to take down the straw man they invented based on their “outside-looking-in” misinterpretation of deconstruction. In other words, they really do NOT want to know what deconstruction is or why it is a growing phenomena, they simply want to dismiss it as quickly as possible and get back the business of their religion.
There was a point during Bush 2’s presidency when I decided to understand and honestly consider whether or not his opposition (those wacky, Satan-loving, baby-eating Liberals) had anything meaningful and valid to say. That meant I had to understand their use of language and what they actually meant by it, instead of doing what their opposition does (the same thing that threatened church corporations do). I had to understand their terms on their terms. It was the only intellectually honest thing to do. And do you know what I found?
Those wacky liberals weren’t really wacky after all. Oh, sure, some of them at the extremes are as crazy as the Q-Anon Shaman… but in general I thought they made good points. Even worse, I started seeing how their intent was way closer to the way of life Jesus talked about than my conservative allies were. I started noticing passages in scripture that had been veiled to me before and how glaringly clear they had been all along.
As my appreciation grew for the kind of society Jesus envisioned (aka, “The Kingdom of God”), it became painfully obvious that the violent ways of the conservatives were at odds with Jesus. Their support of the current world empire was opposite to how Jesus and his followers viewed the empire of their day. The line that religion tried to use to divide people into “saved” and “lost” became irrelevant when I saw devout people across all faith traditions are really divided into two different categories: those who want to dominate through means of force and violence versus those who want to create harmony by speaking truth, demonstrating love, and caring for those who are supposed to be thought of as their enemies.
Whether 9/11 was an act of radical Islamic terrorism or a false flag inside job to cover up what was lost in Building 7, the responses were stark: kill those we see as threats versus make peace with our enemies. And as a nation, we chose to kill. This is not the choice Jesus would have made, and if you suggested otherwise then I would have to ask a lot of serious questions about the nature of your version and narrative of Jesus.
Regardless of what you tack on to the crucifixion of Jesus (some divine blood sacrifice or proving he could overcome death or whatever atonement theory you ascribe to), the historical fact is that the conservative religious folks of his day bribed a disciple and when that disciple remorsefully returned with the money, they covered up the fact it was used to kill someone by a “donation” to buy a field to bury “strangers”. These same wealthy religious folks got the ear of the governor and did everything possible to make sure their enemy – this Jesus guy who threatened their livelihood and familiar ways – was killed as quickly as possible. If you refuse to think about the nature of that event, then you’ll never grasp what has happened to the USA in the 2000s.
These religious leaders thought their understanding of scripture was the only correct one and therefore they were justified condemning all who disagreed. They constantly tried to trap Jesus by asking leading questions like some Fox News stooge in a White House press briefing, but he dodged them every time. And you have to know how much that pissed them off and frustrated them and emboldened them to further acts of violence until execution was their only choice left. They refused to consider whether or not Jesus was speaking truth and proclaiming a better way – they couldn’t dare look into that because it would threaten everything for them.
Deconstruction is facing that kind of opposition… and asking the threatening questions anyway… and not accepting pat answers or changes of subject or illogical apologetics or retaliatory attacks to shut you up. Deconstruction is the choice to seek the actual truth and to live with what resonates deeply inside of you. If you were still “one of them” you could say that “The Spirit bore witness in my heart that what you are telling me is untrue, and that the real truth instead is…” But they conveniently assume that only those they consider to be accepted, loved, and forgiven by God actually have access to The Spirit, so once again if you disagree with them, you’re ungodly, deceived, and just plain wrong. How convenient!
Deconstruction is ignoring those people who don’t want you to keep asking your serious questions until you find a perspective that makes sense. They just want you to accept what they tell you. They want you to unquestioningly embrace their interpretation of the scriptures, their traditions, their reasoning, and their ways. And while they will quickly reject anything you have to offer, they’re always quick to tell you that you need to read their suggested books and authors.
They even invented layers of confusion and double-speak along the way to make it more difficult for those who were raised in their narrative to dare ask questions. It is one of the greatest bait-and-switch jobs in history: the doctrine of inerrancy. They claim that “The Bible” has zero errors because it was “inspired” by God himself. So if you argue with how they have chosen to understand scripture, they cast it as you arguing with God himself. Think about that one – they are in essence equating their interpretation with “God himself”. They are deifying their thoughts… but calling it God. That’s some seriously messed up Wizard of Oz shit (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”). Once you see that, you can’t unsee it. So all the “Bible truths” I was taught since toddlerhood were really just what some men thought about what some men wrote down thousands of years ago. But don’t you dare question that!
Well, I questioned it. Jesus was a peaceful dude who said that he only did what he saw his “Father” do. Jesus didn’t attack people, he expanded their possibilities. Jesus didn’t resist his execution (though Peter tried to and cut off the ear of a soldier… then Jesus healed the soldier). So why should I believe that God himself ordered the genocide of the people living in Canaan just because Moses’ understudy Joshua claimed that God demanded this jihad? We hear cries of God-mandated jihad all the time… and usually we see right through that. Maybe Joshua was just a violent guy and used God as his excuse… but to say that God ordered the Jews to slay “every man, woman, child, and animal”? Sorry dude, God isn’t like that – people are.
Sure, they’ll trot out the isolated incident of Jesus kicking the “moneychangers” out of the temple as if it is a complete argument in favor of violence, but they never want to understand the cultural context of what that actually meant… and it meant a LOT. They also ignore Paul’s exhortations in Romans 13 about obeying the law, paying your taxes, and living peacefully where you are and instead talk about the glorious Revolutionary War where colonists killed soldiers so that rich folks didn’t have to pay so much in taxes. Same as it ever was.
I spent over a decade trying to grasp what the authors of scripture actually said about homosexuality that wasn’t just the party line of hate that is in reality an act of violence against people who aren’t “like us” and cause “us” to feel uncomfortable. There are only six verses in the entire Bible that are used to “clobber” homosexuals… and do you know how many speak to the issue of gay marriage and homosexuality as we know it today? A grand total of ZERO. Zilch. Nada. All of the clobber verses had to do with something different that was going on in cultures at least two thousand years ago, stuff we have laws against already. Even the KJV translation of “homosexual” was a misdirection so people wouldn’t focus on King James’ own pedophilia.
When I started studying the history of Hell, I found more of the same. Four different words that did NOT mean Hell (as we think of it today) were translated to the SAME word in English. This is simply dishonest. Even the word Hell is borrowed from Norse mythology (“Hel”). But then when you start looking at the way this teaching has been used to scare people into the church… and when you consider that God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear (according to Paul)… and when you see “Fear not!” hundreds of times in the Bible… you start to get the idea that religious folks didn’t give a damn about any of that, just so long as they can use fear to manipulate and control people. Enter the dark ages…
I have much, much more that I could say, but this is a good start for now. Deconstruction is not some trendy fad. No, it’s the response of people who finally get wise to how religion has lied to them and want to know what the real truth is no matter what it ends up being. Those are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks – the ones who show how much they value God by the spirit in which they do it (not violence) and by the truth they center it around (whether or not it agrees with church corporations).
And Jesus was very right when he said, “You shall know the TRUTH… and the TRUTH will set you FREE”. Free from lies, free from religion, free from the scare tactics used to terrify you back into the arms of your local church corporation and its shareholders. Free to be the Real You that the world desperately needs to see. Free to be honest and different. Free to report to nobody except the Spirit that lives within you, whispers to you, and guides you every day (whether or not you are paying attention).