Kindness is king, with or without religious roots

Kevin VanAntwerpen

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I am not a Christian. If you brought me to your church, the Holy Spirit (or your elders and deacons, if the Holy Spirit is a little too radical for you) would stop me at the door and say, “We don’t take kindly to your type ‘round here.” I am not an atheist either. I’m not a Muslim. I’m not a Buddhist. Scientology only seems fun because I love elaborate pranks. I would call myself agnostic, but those people seem to really care about discovering all this wonderful spiritual mumbo-jumbo, and frankly – I don’t.

My beliefs can simply be summed up as: unless I have a reason to care, I don’t. Unless a higher power knocks me off my donkey and blinds me on my way to Damascus (in which case, I’ll first struggle to remember why I was riding a donkey to Damascus, and second: apologize for being wrong), I’m only concerned with getting (stuff) done in the real world. I’m not going to bother attempting to save someone’s (possibly non-existent) soul while there are families living without food, water or clothing.

And then I’ll let the chips fall where they may.

If there’s a God out there somewhere, who created all of this beautiful, broken space we live in, and assuming he’s the embodiment of everything good and righteous and not some cosmic a-hole using us like ants to his magnifying glass, what do you think he would want us to be concerned with?
This is a multiple choice question:
A) Which culture’s really old, really boring book is right?
B) Is it okay to be gay?
C) How many footsteps am I allowed on Sunday?
D) That homeless guy was just stabbed and his box-house was stolen. Should I take him to the hospital?

I know, homeless people smell bad, but I really was implying that D is the right answer. It took me a very long time to come to these conclusions about my beliefs. I grew up the same way a lot of you probably did: I’ve got West Michigan in my blood. My Non-Denominational Christian church taught that homosexuals learned to be gay through sexual abuse, pornography and demons. We didn’t like people who were different very much.

I was warned that children who didn’t obey the pastor would no longer be under God’s umbrella of protection and questioning my faith would lead to illness or a fatal bus accident. My parents told me to never trust the news unless it was FOX News, because Sean Hannity, like Jesus, would never lie to me.

But I’ve never been good at listening. I have my (extremely devout Christian) father to thank for that. While I may have been taught something different in church, my father always told me “question everything – even the things I believe – and find out for yourself.” I’m not writing this as an attempt to persuade anyone from religion, because religion can be a beautiful thing. I think this is just an excuse to be honest. So,there you go. Expect next week’s column to be funnier.
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