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Author Topic: How to have non-Christian friends?  (Read 1844 times) Average Rating: 0
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Victoria
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« on: August 30, 2011, 02:38:42 PM »

Since I became a Christian about 6 years ago(i was attending Protestant chuch with my husband until about a 1 year ago)then started looking into OC faith, I found it increasingly difficult to develop friendships with people who are not Christian or not religious. Church and my faith is such a huge part of my life that its a topic I find totally impossible to avoid and lot of people I have met who are not Christian, make fun of Christians and our faith. Have anyone felt this way or been in the same situation? How did you deal with it?
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2011, 03:02:22 PM »


I get it all the time.

I know coworkers often snicker behind my back.  But, that's okay. 
Don't let it get to you.  They are the ones that are missing out.

As for friendships.  Yes, it's easier to have friends that are Orthodox, that believe what you do, do what you do, etc.

However, it's not impossible to have friends outside the Faith.  If they allow you to do what you feel you need to, ie. praying before lunch, fasting, etc. and they don't run, than obviously they are keepers.  Who knows, you might just open Orthodoxy to them.
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2011, 03:11:47 PM »

A great deal of my friends are not believers and I deal just fine. I stand on my faith, and they know what lines not to cross. I dont apologize for my faith but i dont wear it on my sleeve either. I live how I live and I allow my life to be a testimony for Christ. I dont try to convert them or brow-beat them. If they have questions, they ask (which they do) but i dont go "kicking their door in" with my beliefs.

My advice? Live your life and let Christ live through you. Afterall, it's Him that saves, not us.

PP
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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2011, 04:09:55 PM »

Since I became a Christian about 6 years ago(i was attending Protestant chuch with my husband until about a 1 year ago)then started looking into OC faith, I found it increasingly difficult to develop friendships with people who are not Christian or not religious. Church and my faith is such a huge part of my life that its a topic I find totally impossible to avoid and lot of people I have met who are not Christian, make fun of Christians and our faith. Have anyone felt this way or been in the same situation? How did you deal with it?

I gave up.

Church and faith are very important to me, too. However, all people with whom my wife and I socialize are non-Christian (or only nominally Christian, but openly Atheist/Agnostic in their beliefs). To a large extent, that's because of my wife. She is a "cradle Orthodox," but she identifies herself as an agnostic, and sincerely believes that those who aren't Atheists or Agnostics are mentally unhealthy. That includes me:), but I am her husband, so she bears with me. But she would not have any "churchy-talking" person at our home.

Of course, people who attend my parish - Greek Orthodox men, women and youth - are very nice, open-minded, educated, and not "churchy-talking,"  and I am sure my wife would not mind if we had some of them at our home, or visit their homes. But we live very far from them.

It is hard to live like that, I tell you. It is a cross. But we all have some cross to bear. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2011, 04:16:17 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

A ridiculously keen sense of humor and bit of empathetic diplomacy go along way in both making friends and also avoiding pridefully vindictive self-righteousness which seems to become an almost knee-jerk reaction to the social rejection issues about religion.  The "its not your its them" attitude only reinforces this, the truth is if people are offended or purposely mistreat you (bullies and thugs aside) than really it is ourselves to blame for not being ourselves friendly, diplomatic, or even just quiet enough not to draw such a spotlight.  People are naturally defensive, so we can't let our Light of Orthodox be so blinding sometimes, sometimes for the sake of friendship and fellowship and witnessing we have to be a bit more light-humored in our approach, as is set often in the example of the Apostle Paul who is quite funny even at times Smiley

stay blessed,
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2011, 04:23:42 PM »

If your friends know you are a Christian and are poking fun at it, they are not friends to begin with.
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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2011, 04:33:19 PM »

If your friends know you are a Christian and are poking fun at it, they are not friends to begin with.

*claps*
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« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2011, 04:48:49 PM »

If your friends know you are a Christian and are poking fun at it, they are not friends to begin with.

What about children? My daughter knows that I am a Christian and pokes fun at it all the time. Does it mean she is not my daughter?
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2011, 04:51:45 PM »

...you are stuck with her...but, friends are another thing.  We can walk away from so called friends.  Wink

If my "friends" continually ridiculed Orthodoxy, I would have no qualms at breaking the relationship.
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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2011, 05:18:55 PM »

I have friends that are super liberal and atheist. While I am pretty sure they make fun of my faith behind their back (quid pro quo, I make fun of theirs or lack thereof, too), we can have serious discussions and they are always respectful, as I am of them when we are together. Of course we crack jokes and we both know how the other one feels about other religions and such, but our joking rarely crosses a line.

I love them as people and they love me as a person. And if that will be another opportunity to share my faith while enjoying a wonderful friendship, I'll take it.

But if they constantly made fun of Christianity, I just couldn't be friends with that person. That's not even "tolerating" my faith, or if it is, just barely. I can be a good acquaintance or co-worker, but I couldn't see spending hours with someone who wasn't polite enough to disparage my lifestyle and faith all the time.

Most of my friends are either apathetic, atheist, or agnostic. My relatives ridicule my faith, but as Liza says, you can't really do anything about that. There are people who believe differently out there who will be good friends to you, and I pray that you will have good Christian and non-Christian friends.
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« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2011, 05:57:23 PM »

What about children? My daughter knows that I am a Christian and pokes fun at it all the time. Does it mean she is not my daughter?

I'm pretty sure a daughter and a friend are two different things.

A) daughter - A girl or woman in relation to her parents

B) friend - A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

A can sometimes equal B. But B never HAS to equal A.
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2011, 09:56:30 PM »

One of my best friends is an atheist and at first I didn't give it a second thought because I was surrounded with non-believers all through school. As our friendship developed and faith became more important to me, our friendship didn't change because she respected me and my faith, and I think that's all that's needed: love (and therefore, respect). I chatter on sometimes about church services or monastery visits, and she smiles and laughs and listens. It's not impossible, if you have a good friend, it'll work out  Wink
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2011, 10:45:52 PM »

One of my best friends is mostly agnostic, sometimes teetering back towards deism, but probably only out of habit as he is a preacher's kid.  He knows that there are days and times of the year that I won't go out for drinks so when he calls me about it he just asks if it is "shomer shabbos" and I've heard him explain to other people that, "Kev Doesn't Roll On Shabbos!"  (He has taken to calling me Kev since I took Kevin as my baptismal name.)  On one hand he is needling me.  On the other it is rather endearing.  Recently he made a comment to another friend about how much Christians drive him crazy, but then added, "Except for those Orthodox.  I don't know what they are, but they aren't like other Christians."  I don't know what he meant by that exactly, but it was apparently a compliment.

Another friend of mine is a Zen Buddhist.  Before Buddhism he was into satanism.  Not luciferianism, but LaVeyan satanism.  Needless to say, we have some interesting conversations.  He is very well read and has great respect for the monastic traditions of the Christian East.  He just thinks they all got it wrong about Jesus.  He is respectful though, as am I.

The people that I get real crap from tend to be other Christians.  Most non-Christians are not threatened by my church-habits.  And if they are, I think the key is to take none of it personally and have a healthy detachment.  Most people aren't interested in being specific enough to mock or poke fun at MY adherence to a belief, but they go after the belief itself.  It doesn't actually have much to do with me.  It tends to be certain relatives and people I used to go to church with that feel the need to do that.
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« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2011, 11:21:37 PM »

I have friends who are very liberal atheists.  They constantly ridicule Christianity. Just today in cooking class my cake didn't burn, and I thanked God (simply saying to myself "Thanks, God!") and one of my "friends" responds with "God isn't real!"  Being the immature teenager that I am, I just laughed it off, not wanting to get into a confrontation.

gee...If I cut off all of my non-Orthodox friends, I would simply spend my lunch hours being with God...would that be such a bad thing?
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2011, 11:26:34 PM »

Believe me, if your atheist friends won't even let you say "God," that's hardcore.

The ones I happen to be friends with ask me about how church is going and such. One of my friends just wrote me a letter and told me that she was dying to know how the conversion process to Orthodoxy was going. Some don't care, but they don't say anything about it.

Trevor, your atheist friend sounds totally immature, period. I hope he grows out of it. If not, I would seriously question why they even want to be your friend, as your faith seems to be a big part of your life.
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« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2011, 11:36:00 PM »

Believe me, if your atheist friends won't even let you say "God," that's hardcore.

The ones I happen to be friends with ask me about how church is going and such. One of my friends just wrote me a letter and told me that she was dying to know how the conversion process to Orthodoxy was going. Some don't care, but they don't say anything about it.

Trevor, your atheist friend sounds totally immature, period. I hope he grows out of it. If not, I would seriously question why they even want to be your friend, as your faith seems to be a big part of your life.

Your right, Liora!  Some people at my school are NUTTS about their Atheism, and quite militant.  I won't gossip (as much as I want too) but there are these select few who actually yell at you and call you stupid in front of everybody just for believing in the existence of God!  I found much strength in these situations when reading Fr. Arseney.

And it's not like I can put Christ in my locker during class so my belief in Him doesn't bother anyone, as if He were a cell phone or something!
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« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2011, 11:49:41 PM »

I don't think I could ever bring myself to be friendly towards someone who openly vilified my faith. I'd probably be able to get by if they kept it to themselves, though.
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« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2011, 01:13:25 AM »

If your friends know you are a Christian and are poking fun at it, they are not friends to begin with.

I would have to disagree. I think that's where a good sense of humour comes in and knowing when to pull back from going too far. Good friend are able to rib each other over whatever "silly" things one thinks the other is believing. If a friend of mine thinks I'm a noddy for believing in God, that's ok with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If I take it personally, more fool me.
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« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2011, 04:47:07 AM »

Victoria - My experience here in Britain is that there is not the same atmosphere of ridicule concerning religion as there is in other countries. In my experience, people have ridiculed the person for taking themselves a bit too seriously rather than their religion.
I've always found the opposite, that it's been harder for me to have Christian friends than it has been to have secular friends. The people from church with whom I've been friends with for years are the ones from whom I have suffered the most hurt and ridicule when I don't do as they do or believe as they believe. A good example would be the fact that I cover my head everywhere, not just for church. In a charismatic church you can probably imagine how other women feel about this and the kind of questions they might have asked me. Questions I don't mind, disapproval and ridicule is difficult to deal with and being excluded is even more uncomfortable. My friends at work who do not have a faith have all been fine with me. They ask out of interest and we all have great discussions sometimes and they've always been relaxed about my faith and talked with me respectfully even if the humour is a little blue sometimes, I accept that on occasions, our different lifestyles will clash, but the clashing happens rarely as mostly we accept each other and enjoy each other as people.

I'm not sure if what I've wanted to convey has been achieved but I hope what I've said has been a little helpful at least :-)

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« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2011, 07:27:39 AM »

I have friends who are very liberal atheists.  They constantly ridicule Christianity. Just today in cooking class my cake didn't burn, and I thanked God (simply saying to myself "Thanks, God!") and one of my "friends" responds with "God isn't real!"  Being the immature teenager that I am, I just laughed it off, not wanting to get into a confrontation.

gee...If I cut off all of my non-Orthodox friends, I would simply spend my lunch hours being with God...would that be such a bad thing?
Fixed it for you.

Knowing which battles to fight is a sign of maturity. You don't sound like the Trevor of a few months ago.
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« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2011, 07:52:53 AM »

I have friends who are very liberal atheists.  They constantly ridicule Christianity. Just today in cooking class my cake didn't burn, and I thanked God (simply saying to myself "Thanks, God!") and one of my "friends" responds with "God isn't real!"  Being the immature teenager that I am, I just laughed it off, not wanting to get into a confrontation.

gee...If I cut off all of my non-Orthodox friends, I would simply spend my lunch hours being with God...would that be such a bad thing?
Fixed it for you.

Knowing which battles to fight is a sign of maturity. You don't sound like the Trevor of a few months ago.

Thank you  Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2011, 02:31:01 PM »

If your friends know you are a Christian and are poking fun at it, they are not friends to begin with.

I would have to disagree. I think that's where a good sense of humour comes in and knowing when to pull back from going too far. Good friend are able to rib each other over whatever "silly" things one thinks the other is believing. If a friend of mine thinks I'm a noddy for believing in God, that's ok with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If I take it personally, more fool me.

I completely disagree. If you're friend is being a jerk about it, that isn't a friendly act.
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« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2011, 06:40:37 PM »

If your friends know you are a Christian and are poking fun at it, they are not friends to begin with.

I would have to disagree. I think that's where a good sense of humour comes in and knowing when to pull back from going too far. Good friend are able to rib each other over whatever "silly" things one thinks the other is believing. If a friend of mine thinks I'm a noddy for believing in God, that's ok with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If I take it personally, more fool me.

I completely disagree.

That is your prerogative.

edited to add: I would point out that I have Christians friends who are jerks at times. Hell, I'm a jerk at times! Tending to forgive each other their jerkiness makes for much better relationships in the long run. People, me included, are always going to be irksome. <sigh>
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« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2011, 08:55:09 PM »

If your friends know you are a Christian and are poking fun at it, they are not friends to begin with.

I would have to disagree. I think that's where a good sense of humour comes in and knowing when to pull back from going too far. Good friend are able to rib each other over whatever "silly" things one thinks the other is believing. If a friend of mine thinks I'm a noddy for believing in God, that's ok with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If I take it personally, more fool me.

I completely disagree.

That is your prerogative.

edited to add: I would point out that I have Christians friends who are jerks at times. Hell, I'm a jerk at times! Tending to forgive each other their jerkiness makes for much better relationships in the long run. People, me included, are always going to be irksome. <sigh>

You totally didn't read the second part of my post...did you?
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« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2011, 05:20:53 PM »

I have friends who are very liberal atheists.  They constantly ridicule Christianity. Just today in cooking class my cake didn't burn, and I thanked God (simply saying to myself "Thanks, God!") and one of my "friends" responds with "God isn't real!"  Being the immature teenager that I am, I just laughed it off, not wanting to get into a confrontation.

gee...If I cut off all of my non-Orthodox friends, I would simply spend my lunch hours being with God...would that be such a bad thing?
Fixed it for you.

Knowing which battles to fight is a sign of maturity. You don't sound like the Trevor of a few months ago.

Laughing it off is mature when the jibe is directed toward yourself. I wouldn't laugh at blasphemy, though. That seems like something to be sterner about. You can compromise your own dignity, but never that of your faith.
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« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2011, 05:50:28 PM »

I have friends who are very liberal atheists.  They constantly ridicule Christianity. Just today in cooking class my cake didn't burn, and I thanked God (simply saying to myself "Thanks, God!") and one of my "friends" responds with "God isn't real!"  Being the immature teenager that I am, I just laughed it off, not wanting to get into a confrontation.

gee...If I cut off all of my non-Orthodox friends, I would simply spend my lunch hours being with God...would that be such a bad thing?
Fixed it for you.

Knowing which battles to fight is a sign of maturity. You don't sound like the Trevor of a few months ago.

Laughing it off is mature when the jibe is directed toward yourself. I wouldn't laugh at blasphemy, though. That seems like something to be sterner about. You can compromise your own dignity, but never that of your faith.
Certainly no argument on this point of yours as a general rule.

However, in this instance since Trevor has told us a lot about his classmates, I'm going with the idea that they're simply trying to get a rise out of him. That he didn't fall for it speaks highly of him.
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« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2011, 05:55:11 PM »

If your friends know you are a Christian and are poking fun at it, they are not friends to begin with.

^ This.
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« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2011, 06:51:46 PM »

If your friends know you are a Christian and are poking fun at it, they are not friends to begin with.

I would have to disagree. I think that's where a good sense of humour comes in and knowing when to pull back from going too far. Good friend are able to rib each other over whatever "silly" things one thinks the other is believing. If a friend of mine thinks I'm a noddy for believing in God, that's ok with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If I take it personally, more fool me.

I completely disagree.

That is your prerogative.

edited to add: I would point out that I have Christians friends who are jerks at times. Hell, I'm a jerk at times! Tending to forgive each other their jerkiness makes for much better relationships in the long run. People, me included, are always going to be irksome. <sigh>

You totally didn't read the second part of my post...did you?

I totally did read the second part of your post. But seriously... Please forgive me for being irksome. Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2011, 09:51:49 PM »

I have friends who are very liberal atheists.  They constantly ridicule Christianity. Just today in cooking class my cake didn't burn, and I thanked God (simply saying to myself "Thanks, God!") and one of my "friends" responds with "God isn't real!"  Being the immature teenager that I am, I just laughed it off, not wanting to get into a confrontation.

gee...If I cut off all of my non-Orthodox friends, I would simply spend my lunch hours being with God...would that be such a bad thing?

You're much holier than I am. I probably would have told him to just shut up and bake his cake, possibly with a few expletives mixed in there somewhere. I'm not saying that my probable reaction is the proper or Christian one. If the guy was a friend, he would laugh and everything would be ok.
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Made Perfect in Weakness - Latest Post: The Son of God
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« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2011, 09:53:14 PM »

gee...If I cut off all of my non-Orthodox friends, I would simply spend my lunch hours being with God...would that be such a bad thing?

Being made in the image and likeness of a Trinitarian God, it could be.
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

Made Perfect in Weakness - Latest Post: The Son of God
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« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2011, 10:59:56 PM »

Interesting that people seldom, if ever, seem to think: maybe something is wrong with us, Orthodox Christians, that these atheists and who have you, ridicule our faith?

One wonderful person who used to post here a lot for many years, and who served as an OC.net moderator (he signed his name OzGeorge, and he and I are still good friends on Facebook) once said this, "everyone else will be saved but me."

I think this is going right into the root of this and many other threads on OC.net.
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« Reply #31 on: September 03, 2011, 12:10:11 AM »

^^ Indeed.

I suspect that the answer to any dilemma surrounding how we are with our non-Christian friends lies in how serious we are in wanting God to forgive us; how earnest we are when we pray;

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 12:12:45 AM by Riddikulus » Logged

I believe in One God, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
Theodosius Dobzhansky, Russian Orthodox Christian (1900-1975)
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« Reply #32 on: September 03, 2011, 07:44:14 AM »

Interesting that people seldom, if ever, seem to think: maybe something is wrong with us, Orthodox Christians, that these atheists and who have you, ridicule our faith?

Yes, and the Romans were right to throw those bad-examples-of-Christianity early martyrs to the lions ...

I appreciate where you're coming from, Heorhij, and you're right to warn us to put ourselves under the microscope, but I think it's plainly wrong to say atheists are only as nasty as they sometimes are because we Christians are all terrible, terrible people.

Lord, have mercy on us all.
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The Episcopallian road is easy and wide, for many go through it to find destruction. lol sorry channeling Isa.
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« Reply #33 on: September 03, 2011, 08:10:41 PM »

Interesting that people seldom, if ever, seem to think: maybe something is wrong with us, Orthodox Christians, that these atheists and who have you, ridicule our faith?

Yes, and the Romans were right to throw those bad-examples-of-Christianity early martyrs to the lions ...

I appreciate where you're coming from, Heorhij, and you're right to warn us to put ourselves under the microscope, but I think it's plainly wrong to say atheists are only as nasty as they sometimes are because we Christians are all terrible, terrible people.

Lord, have mercy on us all.

The deep-rooted problem with most non-believers I know, is that they are offended by not only our history, but our hypocracy. They don't like the God they see in us as Christians (and this includes other faiths, too.)

My own father who, before he changed his mind on the issue, lived through the horrors of WW2. He couldn't fathom how a God of love allowed such things to occur and had many harsh things to say about religion in general, not just Christianity. As far as he was concerned, God and the belief in Him was sheer nonsense. For many years, I listened to him pontificate on various theories regarding our existence that excluded God; none of them all that good, especially around Christmas when he was a little merry on his annual bottle of Cherry Brandy. If I recall one of his theories was that Jesus was a visiting spaceman, who tried to teach us some good things, but he got sick of us after spending some time on earth and "b***ered off", leaving us to our mess.

I desperately wanted my Dad to "be saved". And there was only one way that he would have ever come around to seeing things differently. That was by the people around him loving him and accepting him and his opinions in spite of their *blasphemous* nature. If the members of my family had ever told him that we weren't going to stand for him saying such and such about our faith, our God, we would never have got to have those conversations that eventually brought him around to thinking about things differently; and in the end accepting Christ.

That experience taught me a powerful lesson. If we truly love someone and want them to experience the truth of God's patient love, we are patient to the max. We never turn them off, no matter what they are saying or doing. To me, it's not a question of making rules that my friends have to follow and if they don't I no longer consider them a friend. It's never about taking offence on behalf of the faith that I have. My faith will stand against any atheistic rant hurled at me; in fun or in anger. If I couldn't take it then I would consider my faith weak and in need of coddling. To me, the object of our relationships with people is love, not being so precious that we can't take some jabs, even some serious wounds in the process. 

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I believe in One God, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
Theodosius Dobzhansky, Russian Orthodox Christian (1900-1975)
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