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.