Thursday, February 02, 2012

Alpha Course: Week 7, How Does God Guide Us?

Dog guides us.
Shocking! Bizarre! The Alpha Course overnight getaway was truly an unbelievable experience. I have too many notes for one post, so I'll issue as many posts as needed next week to present all of my impressions. If you have been moved by any of the previous Alpha posts, you won't want to miss the series-within-a-series on the getaway!
This is the seventh official installment in the Alpha course series, in which I recall my experiences as a Jewish-raised dude and now a Gnu Atheist who took the Alpha course with his Christian wife. Names have been changed to protect privacy.

By tonight's class, I had completely disengaged from Alpha emotionally. I would no longer exert any effort to contribute. My goals would be only to enjoy being with my wife and to observe. I figured only to pipe up if atheists or atheism were mischaracterized.

Tonight's message is that God/Jesus is working right now in your life. Christians (and Jews, maybe Muslims too) are big on saying that Father God, Baby Jesus, and a host of dead believers are here and making an impact in our lives. They help us find lost toys, steer us away from car crashes, and push football field goals wide left. You can appeal to heaven and your friend will survive cancer.

Look, I get that people generally pray with loving intent. People offer a bit of themselves in situations where they really aren't otherwise helpful. They can't actually help cure the cancer, but praying on it helps them acknowledge this and immerse themselves in it. This immersion is what Alpha is building up to. The upcoming overnight getaway is going to be an experience in immersion...but we'll talk about the weekend next time.

My notes for tonight's session:
  • Sloppy Joes for dinner. Excellent desserts of cake and pumpkin cheesecake.
  • Two worship songs. I spaced out.
  • DVD on how God guides people.
    • God guides us in many ways, Gumbel asserts: Scripture, holy spirit, common sense, the church, and coincidences (this last term being mine, not his).
    • Love relationships emerged a few different times in the talk. Gumbel at one point advised that Christians should marry Christians. People should be “spiritually compatible.” I looked at my wife and chuckled.
      • Seriously, though. Fuck you, Nicky.
    • This is really a lecture about using various resources to make important life decisions. 
      • Before accepting that job offer, consult the Bible, ask others for advice, consider whether it jibes with church teachings, search your feelings to know what you really want in the long term. 
      • All of this is basically good advice; nothing any other religion couldn’t also say. I don’t think there’s anything about Christian doctrine or teachings that have special import.
    • More troubling is the advice that absolutely everything in one’s life should be filtered through Christianity. 
      • This seems a narrow and unhelpful suggestion because, frankly, there’s more to life than Christianity. 
      • I would hate to center all my learning and my life around this one thing when there are so many other things to learn and to do. 
      • The Alpha-type Christianity appears very much to me like a co-dependent: “don’t leave me!”
  • Small group discussion
    • Sad news times two: Two of the group leaders have gravely ill parents. One is flying back to New Zealand for three weeks. The other may be flying out to England soon.
    • Mostly talk about people feeling that God has guided them in some way--usually coincidences. Lots of assent to this. No one claimed having God speak to him/her.

1 comment:

  1. ooh . . looking forward to hearing what the getaway brought!

    >More troubling is the advice that absolutely everything in one’s life should be filtered through Christianity.

    Very conceivable message in any religious indoctrination event. At least Christianity is lower maintenance vs. the colossal amount of micromanagement (kashrut, niddah etc.) in Judaism.


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