[personal profile] wingedbeast
This one's going to take a while to get to the point. Sorry in advance.

A while back, I talked about how, when you talk about non-believers in movies, books, magazines, and websites that are by and for conservative Christians, the rest of us are, effectively, in the room. We know what you're saying about us. We're right here and we can hear you.

That wouldn't be a problem if what you were saying was a part of an advancing conversation. But, from what I can tell, that conversation you have amongst yourselves about us isn't moving forward. It's stagnated.

In the late 90s, when I enjoyed the internet hangout of alt.atheism, we faced a number of Christians attempting to convert us. They would speak, often in very general terms as they wouldn't follow-up or even read responses, about how sorry they were for the tragedies that befell us to make us atheists. They would express empathy for our nihilistic depression. They would explain that our desire to sin without consequence would be for not and we should just admit that we already know that they're right and we're wrong. They would inform us that God would forgive us for hating him.

None of it was accurate. None of it was new or had been new for a long time. And, in the time since then, none of it has changed.

If your internal conversation had been advancing, testing new ideas, deconstructing old ideas, these ideas would have changed. They might not be gone in entire. They would, at least, be matured. The concepts notions would bump up against reality, gaining more mitigating detail at the very least. They'd lose simplicity but gain in elegance by the virtue better agreement with reality.

This advancement of conversation happens in most areas. Art continues forward, with science fiction and fantasy now more likely to challenge the notion of races or nations that are always evil. How we teach children has new tools with some old tools being set aside as causing damage.

But, for conservative Christians, your image of yourselves and your images of other people seem to have stalled. The only changes being how one fits current events into that pre-existing framework.

As far as I can tell, that's because very little new is being said. At the risk of ironically repeating myself, I'll reference several previously-referenced Christian movies.

The Encounter: Atheists became atheists due to something bad happening to them. Even if you go to church and teach Sunday school, you might not be a True Christian if you don't find your life fulfilling. Don't get into relationships with non-believers because they're not good people who respect and love you.

God's Not Dead: Atheists are bad people. Christians are good people. Places of higher learning are hostile to your faith.

The Warroom: Play your role and pray to make your spouse a better spouse.

Timechange: People were more moral in previous eras and are less moral today.

These are all fairly recent movies. But, their messages aren't so much messages as echoes of messages that the target audience has already heard, time and again and in Christian movies dating back to at least the 70s. It's the same things, repeated. The advice never changes, even when it proves failing.

This tip is a tip to challenge your fellow believers. Don't just challenge them to do more of what they're already being challenged to do. Challenge prevailing wisdoms. Add new ideas. Disagree with old ideas.

I realize this one's a hard one to do in any culture. This might be harder in a culture built around a faith in the notion that you already have the truth well in hand. It is needed.

If the conversation doesn't advance, doesn't deconstruct and challenge old ideas, bring in new, and result in a more richer, more complex set of ideas and worldviews, stagnation is the only alternative. With stagnation, comes more isolation from the very people you want to convince.
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