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Author Topic: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.  (Read 1777 times)

SatSekhem

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Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« on: April 18, 2012, 07:00:07 pm »
How do you deal with friends who convert to Christiandom?

My best friend recently converted to a southern Baptist amalgamation. It's not quite southern Baptist, and she deems it as merely "Christian", but it's close to it. Anyway, it's really begun to change her outlook on various things. While our politics used to line up more completely, nowadays... not so much. I try very hard to keep my lips closed and bite my tongue when I post politically/religiously motivated things upon my wall on FB and she comments. For the most part, her comments are not "better than you" motivated (if you know what I  mean), but they have been coming closer and closer to this.

I don't want to lose her as my best friend. She's... more like a sister to me. But, since I don't have family members where I have to contend with this issue, I'm not really sure how to deal with it in this case.
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Jenett

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2012, 07:36:33 pm »
Quote from: SatSekhem;50821
How do you deal with friends who convert to Christiandom?

My best friend recently converted to a southern Baptist amalgamation. It's not quite southern Baptist, and she deems it as merely "Christian", but it's close to it. Anyway, it's really begun to change her outlook on various things. While our politics used to line up more completely, nowadays... not so much. I try very hard to keep my lips closed and bite my tongue when I post politically/religiously motivated things upon my wall on FB and she comments. For the most part, her comments are not "better than you" motivated (if you know what I  mean), but they have been coming closer and closer to this.


Talk to her about it.

But talk to her about it bearing two things in mind: 1) people in the middle of conversation process tend to be So Very Energetic about it, for all sorts of reasons. Going gently usually helps. And 2) be really clear with yourself, and then with her, what you want out of the conversation and what you want going forward.  

So in this case, if it happened to me, I might start with "Friend, I really care a lot about you, and I'm truly happy that you've found a religious life/community/whatever that matters so much to you. I don't want to take that away from you.

But at the same time, I know that it's changing some things in our relationship, and I want to talk about that, so we can *keep* being as close as we have been. I've noticed that some of your comments on my Wall have been hard for me to read because I end up wondering if you feel your choices are better than my choices. I'm sure that's not what you mean to do, so I wanted to come talk to you so we could figure out some better options. Your religious life is very important to you, and that's awesome - but mine is also very important to me."

And then propose some stuff that might work - maybe that's agreeing that you talk about religion/politics/etc. in other places but not on FB, which can lead to much more terse conversations. Maybe you agree to keep an eye on it, but not deliberately change anything right now, and revisit in a month or two together. Maybe you identify a couple of very specific things that bug you, and the rest is really okay, once those are out of the picture.

Here's the thing: it may or may not work. It depends a whole lot on some of her choices, and on what she may or may not be hearing from other people whose opinions she values and trusts (family, other friends - but also her new religious community.) But at least if you go at it this way, you've got a good start on sorting it out together.
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MadZealot

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2012, 07:53:33 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;50826
...

Good advice.  

Also try and remember that your friend is a very "young" Christian, so she's going to be full of energy, zeal, and a measure of naivete as regards her new religion.  In a sense she's going to be something of a theological sponge, uncritically soaking up whatever has an apparent 'Christian' veneer.  Sure there's a danger of her picking up odd views; this is nothing different from the shiny, new "young" Pagans who can get caught up and swayed by oft-wacky 'Pagan' crap out there.
In the end you will need to build up reserves of patience.  Consider the need to engage your friend in religious Q&A sessions.  These will help you BOTH understand her new path better.
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Starglade

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2012, 08:47:30 pm »
Quote from: SatSekhem;50821


 
I think you need to read Darkhawk's writings on "Bob hates peas." That's not the name of the essay, but that's the catch phrase, and the whole thing is about the new convert's enthusiasm. While it doesn't apply directly and specifically, it does address the overall situation in which she finds herself--and you find yourself, by connection.

I don't have a handy link, but perhaps she or someone else will be able to provide that. (I'm something of a Luddite, truly I am.)
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Darkhawk

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2012, 09:17:14 pm »
Quote from: Starglade;50842
I think you need to read Darkhawk's writings on "Bob hates peas." That's not the name of the essay, but that's the catch phrase, and the whole thing is about the new convert's enthusiasm. While it doesn't apply directly and specifically, it does address the overall situation in which she finds herself--and you find yourself, by connection.

I don't have a handy link, but perhaps she or someone else will be able to provide that. (I'm something of a Luddite, truly I am.)

 
I don't think I've done a formal essay about it, though I'm not surprised I've posted about it.  THe "Bob hates peas" catchphrase refers to my best friend's comment that most new relationships go through this phase where every damn conversation winds up being about the love object.  Like this:

"Oh.  You're having peas for dinner?  Bob hates peas."

conversion experiences are like that too.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Annie Roonie

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2012, 10:42:47 pm »
Quote from: SatSekhem;50821
How do you deal with friends who convert to Christiandom?

I don't want to lose her as my best friend. She's... more like a sister to me. But, since I don't have family members where I have to contend with this issue, I'm not really sure how to deal with it in this case.

 
I lost my younger sister to Jesus some years ago. We're just beginning to reconnect now. I made a bunch of mistakes trying to get her to be what I considered real again. And then being angry at all Christianity for killing the person I loved and replacing it with what I considered ... I can't even type what I felt about her. It brings up too much.

In any event, I've had to settle for not discussing politics, religion, ecology, or science with her. We stick to silly things now. It's better than nothing I suppose, but I can only take so much of the superficiality.

I came to terms because I saw that she needed that system to cope and I love her. In the end or new beginning as it is, I was the one who made things okay by reaching out. This pleased out parents considerably and they are at least half the reason I decided to reach out.

We don't talk often. I've mourned the loss of who she was. I have not been able to celebrate the person that she is. Nor she the person I have become. But I will be there for the person she is going to become. And when she needs me, I will move the stars for her.

Owl

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2012, 12:53:09 am »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;50863
I lost my younger sister to Jesus some years ago. We're just beginning to reconnect now. I made a bunch of mistakes trying to get her to be what I considered real again. And then being angry at all Christianity for killing the person I loved and replacing it with what I considered ... I can't even type what I felt about her. It brings up too much.

In any event, I've had to settle for not discussing politics, religion, ecology, or science with her. We stick to silly things now. It's better than nothing I suppose, but I can only take so much of the superficiality.

I came to terms because I saw that she needed that system to cope and I love her. In the end or new beginning as it is, I was the one who made things okay by reaching out. This pleased out parents considerably and they are at least half the reason I decided to reach out.

We don't talk often. I've mourned the loss of who she was. I have not been able to celebrate the person that she is. Nor she the person I have become. But I will be there for the person she is going to become. And when she needs me, I will move the stars for her.

Thank you for this.  Now I know why I have trouble talking to my youngest sister.  The conversations are all very superficial and mostly meaningless.  And it's not an age problem - she's in her 40's.......
« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 12:53:40 am by Owl »
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Starglade

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2012, 07:43:37 am »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;50863

But I will be there for the person she is going to become. And when she needs me, I will move the stars for her.


Totally unrelated reason: These last two sentences brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.
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Kessei

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2012, 10:39:29 am »
Quote from: SatSekhem;50821
How do you deal with friends who convert to Christiandom?


I had a very close friend who converted from a neo-pagan practice to evangelical Christianity. At first I was supportive; I listened to her, helped out when she was doing bakesales and grill-a-thons for her church, hung out with her new Christian friends.... But she ended up going deep into a lot of the politics of her church, and I just couldn't handle the stuff that would come out of her mouth. At one point, she went to several joint friends' performance of the Vagina Monologues just so she could stand up in the middle of the audience to interrupt a skit and begin to talk about the harms, dangers, and immorality of abortion. :o

I still miss her many years later, but it just got to be too much for me to deal with. It's hard to be supportive, or even tolerant, around somebody who takes that as an invite to say things that they know will upset or anger you.

I agree with Jenett that you may need to end up establishing boundaries if the relationship is going to continue - things that both of you agree will not be brought up. It may save a lot of heartache. But if the friend ends up choosing to pursue her faith instead of the friendship, try not to take it personally.

SatSekhem

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2012, 06:54:28 pm »
Quote from: Kessei;50921
I had a very close friend who converted from a neo-pagan practice to evangelical Christianity. At first I was supportive; I listened to her, helped out when she was doing bakesales and grill-a-thons for her church, hung out with her new Christian friends.... But she ended up going deep into a lot of the politics of her church, and I just couldn't handle the stuff that would come out of her mouth. At one point, she went to several joint friends' performance of the Vagina Monologues just so she could stand up in the middle of the audience to interrupt a skit and begin to talk about the harms, dangers, and immorality of abortion. :o


That's awful!
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SatSekhem

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2012, 06:55:37 pm »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;50863
We don't talk often. I've mourned the loss of who she was. I have not been able to celebrate the person that she is. Nor she the person I have become. But I will be there for the person she is going to become. And when she needs me, I will move the stars for her.

 
This was beautiful. Thank you.
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SatSekhem

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2012, 06:56:56 pm »
Quote from: MadZealot;50835
Good advice.  

Also try and remember that your friend is a very "young" Christian, so she's going to be full of energy, zeal, and a measure of naivete as regards her new religion.  In a sense she's going to be something of a theological sponge, uncritically soaking up whatever has an apparent 'Christian' veneer.  Sure there's a danger of her picking up odd views; this is nothing different from the shiny, new "young" Pagans who can get caught up and swayed by oft-wacky 'Pagan' crap out there.
In the end you will need to build up reserves of patience.  Consider the need to engage your friend in religious Q&A sessions.  These will help you BOTH understand her new path better.

 
LOTS of zeal. Definitely lots of zeal...
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Wickerman

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Re: Contending with Interfaith Discussions.
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2012, 07:54:08 pm »
Quote from: SatSekhem;50821
How do you deal with friends who convert to Christiandom?

My best friend recently converted to a southern Baptist amalgamation. It's not quite southern Baptist, and she deems it as merely "Christian", but it's close to it. Anyway, it's really begun to change her outlook on various things. While our politics used to line up more completely, nowadays... not so much. I try very hard to keep my lips closed and bite my tongue when I post politically/religiously motivated things upon my wall on FB and she comments. For the most part, her comments are not "better than you" motivated (if you know what I  mean), but they have been coming closer and closer to this.

I don't want to lose her as my best friend. She's... more like a sister to me. But, since I don't have family members where I have to contend with this issue, I'm not really sure how to deal with it in this case.

 
Accept the fact that you may lose your friend, at least for a while. My wife is christian, but she had been christian for a long while before we met. What I am saying is nearly what others have said, it is about the conversion experience, had I met my wife when she was a young christian, she would most likely have tried to burn me at the stake. As it was she had gotten over that new shiny stage, and started to see that some of her churches teaching were just BS.
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