Listening to Skousen’s Cleansing of America, I realize a few things about the Christian faith that makes it special among all thought patterns in the world.
To take a moment to explain why I use the term “thought pattern”: The way we think about things, our expectations and our values, determine what we do. Really, that’s what’s important. Our actions change things and record in time some unalterable event or thing. Our thought patterns govern, completely, what actions we take.
Some thought patterns are empowering, putting us in charge of what we choose to do. Others are defeating, making us feel like a “shrimp on a whale’s tail” (to borrow a phrase from Korean).
The Christian thought pattern, when it comes to the future, is this.
Some really, really bad things are going to happen, so unimaginably bad that you really can’t imagine it. Don’t worry, as long as you are doing what’s right right now, you’ll be OK. After the bad stuff, then this wonderful new utopia will be created where people treat each other right and live according to the ultimate laws of what is good and just and merciful.
Different Christian sects, as far as I know, have different definitions of what precisely happens and when. Some claim ignorance, but admit only to vague ideas and possibilities. The LDS religion is no different.
Christian religions, in general, teach their disciples to simply love their neighbor. If someone is really, really mean to you, and you reach out to them often an to try and clear things up, and they insist on being mean, you can just write them off, because one day God will take care of things. But if you really, really care for them, then you’ll try just one more time (for many times over) to reach out and clear things up, because whatever punishment you think they deserve is far less than whatever the future holds for them.
Isn’t this 180 degrees different than the way Christians are portrayed in pop culture? People who have their heart set on living in a perfect, millennial society know they have to train themselves to proper behavior and attitudes today. They know that those people who do not qualify will meet a fate worse than anything we wish upon them, so we are inspired to continually reach out to them, compassionately, quietly, and respectfully, hoping that perhaps this next time their hearts have softened.
I can’t name any other religion that has this kind of attitude in their thought patterns. I think the Jews have a similar feeling, but I don’t see this kind of thought pattern among Hindus, Buddhists, or Muslims. I certainly don’t see this kind of attitude. And what thought patterns does humanism and atheism inspire? Certainly nothing even remotely similar to this.
As we set into these last days, and the ride of 2008 is going to look like the rising tide before the tsunami, let’s consider, carefully, what thought patterns we allow to govern our minds. I prefer to keep the thought patterns that inspire me to individual charity rather than any other.