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The Hate Pit

There is an event I’ll be attending in a few weeks. A convention I’ve been to twice now. The Necronomicon. From the name you can see it’s one of “those” conventions. The kind of place you’ll find people playing “Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock” and singing along to Dr. Horrible. The kind of place where you can learn to ramp up the creep factor in your horror writing. The kind of place that has geekishly deep discussions about nanotechnology.

The first time I went, the entire thing felt like what it was supposed to feel like—a place for sci-fi / fantasy / horror / gaming fans to be weird where weird is normal. And it felt…theologically neutral. But the second one was zombie-themed, and I was met at the door by a woman wearing a t-shirt like this:

 

And later on, the guest of honor began his speech with a joke about Christians and went on to talk about his belief that Christianity and science fiction are completely incompatible. Mainly because we Christians are so narrow-minded. You know, the idea that we all think that knowing the answer to salvation is the only answer we need to anything and everything, and therefore we stifle all our curiosity and thus our creativity.

I didn’t say anything to the woman at the door. I didn’t say anything to the guest speaker either. There is this part of me that thinks I must be a coward. Or somehow ashamed of my faith. I worry that God let me get into those situations to see what I’d do, and I failed the test.

But there’s another part of me that says I totally did the right thing by keeping my mouth shut. That certain people—those who are willing to be crass, rude, or downright mean to Christians—simply don’t want to listen. It’s not like they are people who have never heard about Jesus, otherwise they wouldn’t be making fun of him. Also, people who are that pushy about their non-faith are the same ones who if they see you whispering a prayer to yourself will accuse you of trying to force religion down their throat. (And do they not see that by wearing shirts like that and speaking rudely about Christians to a captive audience is shoving their beliefs down our throats?)

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve had many intelligent theological conversations with atheist friends. Obviously, those conversations included disagreements. But there was no hostility. Maybe we both left still convicted in our own views, but we didn’t let the conversation degrade to name-calling. The two people I mentioned above, though, started with name-calling or the equivalent thereof. And to be honest, I have no clue how to lead a conversation out of a hate pit.

Those two instances at the Necronomicon were isolated. Every other person I interacted with was genuinely nice. I have no idea what the other people’s beliefs are because it was never brought up. We connected as fellow geeks and freaks, and kept religion out of the conversation pot.

I’m a little worried, though, about this year.  You see, there are several panels that will be discussing science, and the panel names imply it won’t be “sticking to the facts.” For example, “How Science Literacy Affects Your Perception of the World.” And “Teaching Science, the Challenges & Rewards.”

That first one sounds very much like it will be translated into, “The uneducated turn to religion and if you can just teach them secular science they will see the error of their thinking.” And I can’t imagine the second one not including a discussion about Creationists opposing evolutionary teaching.

I will likely keep my mouth shut again. Doesn’t matter that I have a degree in biology. Doesn’t matter that I have studied the Creation/evolution debate in-depth. Doesn’t matter that I have read several of Richard Dawkins’ books, understood them, and still, based on FACT, determined them to be rubbish. I refuse to climb into the hate pit in public.

I may also be worrying over nothing. I may have completely misinterpreted the intention of the panels. I don’t want to be judgmental. But I get so very tired of being judged. I get so tired of the hypocrisy of those who scream “tolerance” and then are intolerant of me. Even though I not once have ever pushed a single person about religion, or any other issue for that matter. I get tired of being stereotyped, when I don’t stereotype others. I know that these kinds of people are the extremists, that most of the people I meet are not looking to bait me into a knock-down, drag-out so they can prove I’m just another ignorant and intolerant Christian.

Ironically, it also makes me see why atheists are so intolerant of us. It only took two people to make me nervous about what I may face this time. So conversely, it’s understandable that one or two Bible-thumping scripture screamers are enough to turn non-Christians against us as a whole. That alone makes me want to keep my mouth shut, so I don’t come across as the obnoxious representative of my group. Well, that and the fact that it’s just not my style.

The Bible says we all have gifts, but those gifts are different for different people. Some people have the gift to evangelize—I believe I don’t. Not even a little. But I do have the gift of teaching. If someone comes to me wanting to be taught about Jesus, to be taught about Creationism and the scientific evidence for it and for God, I can do that. But debating is not my strong suit. Not because I don’t know my stuff. I do. But knowledge is not what people like that want. What they want is a fight, and I’m not a fighter. (My husband will be shaking his head vehemently at this statement when he reads it, of course :P. To that I say, “Dear, the people I speak of are not trying to get me to trade in my truck.”)

I will continue to hold my tongue in certain situations. It won’t stop me from wearing a cross necklace, or a “Not of This World” t-shirt. It won’t stop me from teaching my kids and anyone else who asks about God and Creation. But I’m not jumping into the hate pit, ever. I see no reason to. People go there by choice, and if God lets them choose I’ll not lasso them out without their consent. I just wish I could walk by the pit without them trying to lasso me in.

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About Kat Heckenbach

Kat grew up in the small town of Riverview, Florida, where she spent most of her time either drawing or sitting in her "reading tree" with her nose buried in a fantasy novel...except for the hours pretending her back yard was an enchanted forest that could only be reached through the secret passage in her closet... She never could give up on the idea that maybe she really was magic, mistakenly placed in a world not her own...but as the years passed, and no elves or fairies carted her away...she realized she was just going to have to create the life of her fantasies. She shares that life with her husband and two homeschooling kids. Kat is a graduate of the University of Tampa, Magna Cum Laude, B.S. in Biology. She spent several years teaching, but never in a traditional classroom--everything from Art to Algebra II. Her writing spans the gamut from inspirational personal essays to dark and disturbing fantasy and horror, with over forty short fiction and nonfiction credits to her name.

12 comments on “The Hate Pit

  1. Those are the people I always imagine getting their heads banged into a wall for their stubbornness and hypocrisy.

    • The hypocrisy is what really bothers me. If I’d walked into that con with a “Jesus Saves” t-shirt, the woman with the zombie shirt would have probably at the very least openly rolled her eyes, if not outright hassled me. Yet, I’m the intolerant one…

      I know the road goes both ways. I’m happy to know that most people are NOT like that. Most people get irritated with extremists from all groups, including their own.

      • Yes it. does go both ways. A church who protests everything falls into that category for me as well. Especially since a friend of mine has decided he’d rather go to Hell than be in Heaven with them.

  2. Kat,

    I’d like to be sympathetic to the “go there, say nothing” point of view, but I think that’s what makes people into perfect targets, and I can’t share it with you.

    There’s that quote I’m reminded of: “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to say nothing.”

    It’s not necessary to create a scene to get it said either. Now; before the con, is the time to quietly speak up and let the organizers know that they have Christians who have attended in the past, and that you as a Christian are attending this time too. And that you were made uncomfortable last time by a speaker who used their platform to bash Christians, and that as a paying member of the public, you’d like to ask them to take steps to ensure that everyone feels welcome at their con, even Christians.

    Maybe they’ll respond well, and maybe they won’t.

    But, as for what happens when you keep saying nothing; well, my daughter could tell you that!

    There’s a girl that she’s very angry with right now, not because this girl bullied her, although she did, but because of the extraordinary amount of emotional manipulation involved. “I won’t be your friend unless…”

    The “unless” got bigger and bigger until one day my daughter came home from school totally fatigued because this bully made her chase and retrieve a ball nonstop on the playground at recess. My girl was afraid not to interact with her because when she tried to avoid her altogether, the bully would wait until no one was looking, and then pinch my daughter. Hard.

    We’ve dealt with the bullying and the manipulation. Between the school and her parents coming down on her, she’s not going to get another chance to bully my girl. In fact, she’s mad at my girl for telling and isn’t talking to her, which is perfectly fine from our point of view. She can just keep on “not talking” until the sun turns to ashes, too.

    My daughter has discovered that she doesn’t have to be friendly to or spend any time with her. That it’s okay by all of us if she avoids bullies. But–she still has to deal with the emotional fallout and find a way to forgive and move on.

    And frankly, she’d have less to deal with if she’d spoken up sooner to those in charge about what was going on when they weren’t looking.

    If she had been self-advocating all along, a few other unfortunate incidents also might not have happened. We’re having to address those medically, and my daughter has discovered that the pain is a good reminder not to be so accepting of mistreatment!

    To recap: bullying doesn’t just happen to sixth graders. Adults engage in it too.

    I think it’s possible that the con organizers aren’t all that enthusiastic–yet–about bashing Christians. I think it’s more than likely that they’d be sympathetic to your point of view from a financial standpoint if for no other reason.

    And if they aren’t, surely there are other places you can go to get your horror fun-fix that don’t require being subjected to this. For your sake, I hope so.

    • I do see your point. And I may contact them and just let them know that while I don’t expect things to be “Christian” in any sense of the word, I’d appreciate not letting speakers flat-out make jokes. Although, with the level of fame this particular speaker held, I’m not sure he’d have listened if they asked him to not say such things.

      I don’t quite equate this to bullying though. If someone got in my face and said something to me personally, that would be different. If the speaker stopped me in the hall and started making Christian jokes to me personally, I’d have told him to shut it. And then walked away.

      My point with this is, I’m wary. If they DO use these topics to bash Christians, I will definitely let them know I have issue with it. I am hoping I am wrong. I want to give them a chance to prove me wrong–that the panels will not cross a line.

  3. My Dearest Kat,

    Bravo to you! The Lord tells us not to cast His pearls amongst swine.If you are asked I’m sure you will give them all the answers they need. I believe that if you walk in the door screaming I am a Christian and you need to believe the way I do or I will take my marbles and go home, then you are no better than they who are exuding hate from every orifice. This is what is commonly known as the little man syndrome. The thought is, “If I scream loud enough then everyone will think that I am big.” It is the bully all over again just with a different agenda. This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t scream from the hill top that I love the Lord, but that would be from joy, not from trying to prove a point. “Let him who has ears hear.” The Lord chooses His vessel and I believe He lets us know when to jump in the fire. Until then do as the Lord directs you.

    • Thanks, Billie :). Good reminder–we have to listen to what God wants us to do in a given situation. Sometimes He does push us out of our comfort zones, but sometimes He tells us, “I made you this way for a reason,” and expects us to follow our nature.

  4. We’re all called to evangelize, even though some of us have that gift/drive in abundance.
    That being said, since I’m not Jesus and don’t know another person’s heart, I wouldn’t have engaged, either, because I don’t know those people. I don’t know where they’re coming from. I don’t know if that shirt was a slam or a joke. Speakers make inappropriate jokes about someone all the time. Christians are a natural bash-topic considering the theme.

    I once heard those who aren’t Christians are prisoners of war, enslaved by Satan. Some may be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but the rest are just ignorantly offensive. That’s where sharing the grace we’ve received comes in.

    Your best witness to such people is to be the best witness in your loving actions and, when the opportunity presents itself (because it usually does), not fearing to credit Christ as the reason for those actions. IMHO, that’s where most Christians fall down – giving credit where’s it’s due. That’s a habit I’m trying to cultivate.

    When walking through enemy territory you’re likely to encounter a few enemies. Keep your armor on and follow Christ. You’ll be fine.

    • I guess I wonder what “evangelize” means. Does it have to be a verbal, face-to-face thing. Maybe I am called to evangelize through written words but not verbally?

      • It’s simply sharing your relationship with Jesus with another person. I’m sure Iguana can give you the Greek, but Paul did it by telling his conversion story in every single conversation he had (or so it seems from his letters). Peter did the same.
        I look at it this way. If my conversations go to Farmville, politics or writing seemingly without effort, I shouldn’t have a problem bringing up the guy who saved my soul, even if I sound like a nut. I sound like a nut all the time anyway.
        It’s our society that makes us feel awkward. Well, I’m not feeling awkward about saying His name in public anymore. Jesus died for me. The least I can do is mention Him now and again. Those with the gift of evangelism talk about Jesus without thinking. The rest of us have to try harder, but we can still do it.
        Again, not saying you should have said anything “preachy” or contradictory to the T-shirt wearer or the speaker. I know people who would have, but I’m not one of them. Getting offended over stuff like that is like getting offended over someone’s FB status – a total waste of time.

  5. It also occurs to me, zombie pic aside, the T-shirt is absolutely true. Jesus came back to convince our brains that what He said was true. He came back for brains, bodies and souls – the whole package. Someone with the gift of evangelism might have seen and commented on that right away. Took me a while.

  6. [...] my last post, I talked about a sci-fi/fantasy/horror convention I was a little nervous about attending. It’s [...]

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