Yes, Rodney King said it best.
I received an email yesterday from a person on MySpace who lists his religion as “atheist.” I had found his profile because he wrote a poem called “Self-Deification” (in which he basically talks about being his own God). I had done a keyword search for people in MySpace with “deification” in their profile, and sent him a message without taking the time to really consider that his idea of deification probably was worlds away from my own.
Okay, my bad. But his response basically said, “I don’t need Christians trying to preach to me because I’m an atheist. So go away.” I sent him an apologetic note, saying I’m sorry for bothering him and certainly didn’t mean to cause offense. I doubt if I will hear from him again, and that’s okay. He probably sees me as just another bigoted, self-righteous religionist who can’t help but annoy people whose views differ from my own. Of course, I prefer to think of myself as someone who takes delight in the fact that so many different people hold different (and even mutually exclusionary) perspectives; to me, that’s part of the beauty of creation, and it is because I find creation so beautiful that I have chosen to interpret my transpersonal experiences as evidence of a loving creator. But of course, not everyone sees it that way. Different views.
I’m sad now, not because Mr. Atheist rejects me and certainly not because his viewpoint is so foreign from my own. I’m sad because so many Christians have raised spiritual salesmanship to an art form, that those who have hung “no soliciting” signs around their souls need, out of sheer self-defense, to push me away before either of us have a chance to get to know one another. Perhaps I would have surprised this fellow with a Christian spirituality unfamiliar to him, one steeped in mystical agnosticism and (hopefully) radical trust and compassion. And he undoubtedly would have surprised me in some ways as well. But we’ll never know, most likely. And like I said, that’s okay. But also, that’s too bad.