Over the past few weeks I have been watching the new HBO mini-series, True Detective, on Sky Atlantic and have had a few thoughts. True Detective is set in Louisiana in the states in what seem like a deeply religious area of the US. It follow two detectives (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) who work on a 17 year long case tracking a serial killer. It is a pretty bleak watch at points but also pretty spectacular.
In one of the scenes their investigation takes them to the tent of a travelling ministry type thing (which is frankly fairly ridiculous. As he looks around McConaughey comments at the group of people he sees around him. His main point - these people are unimpressive and unintelligent. Here he simply articulates a view held by many. If you are going to believe in God etc then you must be stupid. This got me thinking and I have a few thoughts.
1. As a Christian I am unconvinced that Christians are noticeably less intelligent than those who are not
2. It is however true that numerous religious institutions throughout history have sort to exploit people, including those who are vulnerable in some way, for their own ends. This is true of not just the religious but of all different types of people. Unfortunately people exploiting other people is a perennial part of human past and present. The meeting the attend did not really seem to reflect any intelligible belief but rather did seem to be about exploitation. I would distance myself from that.
3. My main reflection was this - So what? Christianity, if true, should not and could not be a thing which requires a certain level of intellect. It is a relationship with a God who made us and loves us. Not a test we have to pass or a qualification we have to gain. Whereas the rest of our world may run around after the rich, intelligent and famous - God does not care about those distinctions.
If Jesus is fundamentally about following Jesus then in him we see the perfect example of someone who was obviously not unintelligent (he may not have split the atom but he changed history more than the man who did), who did not seek to exploit anyone for his own gain but instead willingly gave up the riches and comfort of heaven to live on this earth and eventually be crucified by the people he came for and who drew all sorts of people to himself including those rejected and despised by the society he lived in, in much the same way that McConaughey had no time for the people at that meeting.