Sunday, June 17, 2012

Self-Congratulatory Ego Stroking Nonsense

"You are a REAL MAN when you: commit to study God's Word, when you teach your children, when you love your wife."


Seriously?  Now Christians are willing to dehumanize all other people everywhere in order to stroke their own egos and emphasize their superiority to those other mere (hell bound, presumably) slobs?

This is so obviously wrong that it should never see the light of day, and yet Christians are proudly plastering this all over their facebook walls this morning.

Can you imagine Jesus ever saying such nonsense?

Does Jesus anywhere call for people to "study God's Word"?  I don't think so.  Please post chapter and verse from the gospels if I am wrong.

(Fundies: don't even try to say Jesus=the whole Bible so a verse from OT or epistles are on the same level as the actual teachings of Jesus as remembered by the early church.  That's a load of manure and if you were more intellectually honest, it would have occurred to you too.  Meditate on the lesson of the Mount of Transfiguration and it will be plain: Jesus and Moses, Elijah, the disciples are NOT on equal footing.  Jesus is GOD.  Those others guys are just people, like you and me, whose lives were touched by God.  HUGE difference!!)

Jesus commanded us precious few things, so they are easy to remember:  A new command I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.  By this will all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another.

When it comes to children, Jesus loved them and touched them.  He warned people not to offend them.  He said nary a word about "teaching them".

Of course, Jesus was a constant teacher, but when I see a fundamentalist use the word "teach" in connection with the word "children" it usually means something very different than emulating the life of Jesus and how he related to those he taught.  It means spank, demand obedience even when unfair and unjust, and coerce them to emulate spoken and overtly taught parental values like what to think, feel, watch and say. This would include memorizing Bible verses and parroting Christian cliches without thinking about them very deeply.  All a far cry from the nurture and compassion Jesus showed little children and commanded us to also show.  All a far cry from the love and acceptance Jesus showed the crowds of people who came to Him to be healed and taught about the love of God.

Jesus and women? Jesus turned Old Testament misogyny upside down by accepting women as disciples, talking to them as equals, touching them without concern as to whether they were "bleeding" or not, commending for their faith, calling them up to the front of the synagogue, and more.  The list of the ways Jesus defied the patriarchy and honored women is very long.

I don't believe Jesus would ever have used the phrase "REAL MAN" about anyone, because it implies that other men are lesser and women, well we all know what the opposite of a "REAL MAN" is right?  A pussy, a girly-man, a pansy, and a wimp are all pretty much interchangeable insults used as the opposite of a "REAL MAN".  The phrase itself is misogynist to the core.

Oh, and the PRIDE fed by such a statement!  I simply cannot see Jesus ever endorsing such ego-stroking hyperbole, not ever.  If there is one thing Jesus was "against" it was religious posturing and the pride that goes with it.  Oh. my.

That statement just is rotten to the core.  I know of one very abusive, mentally off-balance patriarch who will puff up with pride when he reads this statement.  His children are all emotionally wounded by growing up in his strict fundamentalist patriarchal family cult.  As they age out and break free, the family gets more fractured because the patriarch disowns them for choosing a life different from his own sick, twisted (but scriptural when one is allowed to proof text!) religious life.

His wife is miserable.  The children she sacrificed career and self-development to birth and raise are torn from her. She has to choose between "submission" to the patriarch and loving her children.  How sick is that?

But this guy fits the "REAL MAN" label above.   He, his life and his family are the living examples of how these religious catch phrases have replaced true devotion to Jesus with gaining the approval of your co-religionists.

My husband is a real man. So is my son. So are my Sikh, Jewish and Hindu neighbors.  A real man is one who exists.  Period.  Stop with the loaded language and ego-stroking, church.  It's repulsive.

*sigh*  I have to get back to studying.  I just wanted to get this off my chest.  Peace and good will to all who read here.  You are all real people, fyi!  :)  Shadowspring

Friday, June 1, 2012

Jesus vs. American "christians"

Probably everyone has already seen or heard of this video clip in which a Republican congressman loses it on the Illinois house floor.

I live in the middle of a very Religious City.  I think I saw recently where it was in the top rankings for religious cities in the country.  I don't have time to hunt down the link, but supposedly 53% percent of people in my city attend  Christian services or at least self-report that they do.  There are 800 +/- churches in the greater metro area.

The odds are good that if a person is white, older and female, they go to church.  If they are Christians, the odds are good that they (for some inexplicable reason) are also pro-everything Rush Limbaugh likes, anti-everything Rush Limbaugh hates, and are registered Republican.  This actually makes no sense if they were actual disciples of Jesus.

Though Jesus never took a side as far as politics go, he did take up for the outcast (lepers, blind, disabled for any reason), the marginalized (tax collectors, women of ill repute), the foreigner (Samaritan, Syro-Phonecian, Roman), and the economically disadvantaged (compassion on the crowds with no food, the widow(s) at the temple).  Nowhere did Jesus favor the rich or the powerful religious elites, in fact he warned people to watch out not to become like them (beware the leaven...) and warned them not to seek to become  rich (seek you first the kingdom, how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom...).

So, it seems pretty plain to me that if you are against universal health care, you are not following Jesus in desiring to heal the sick.  If you are against public assistance for the disabled, you are not following Jesus in having compassion for the economically/socially disadvantaged.  If you are in favor of further labeling and marginalizing gay people as "abominations", you are not following Jesus in showing acceptance and welcome to the marginalized.  If you want to build a big fence to electrocute people fleeing privation/starvation in hopes of providing a better future for their children here in America, in fact if you want to do anything other than make it easier for these people, both by ending American imperialist policies that hurt their own economies (drug wars?) and making an easier process for them to immigrate legally, then you are not following Jesus in showing compassion to the foreigners among us.  If you demonize people who are poor and hungry as too lazy to work and begrudge assisting them in any way, you are not following Jesus in showing honor and offering real help to the poor and the hungry.

If you praise the rich as being  "successful", claiming they are more virtuous than other people, you listen to Rush with more intention than you read your Bible.  The Bible is full of pronouncements of judgement (the disapproval of God) on the rich and those who strive to be rich.  There is no way you can be a disciple of Jesus and call the mega-wealthy "job creators".  The two opinions of the wealthy elite (Rush Limbaugh vs. Jesus) stand in stark contrast.  I suppose you could point to the prosperity promised observant Jews in the Old Testament as proof that wealth means God approves of you, but you can't point to anything Jesus said or did that upholds that belief. Paul goes as far as to state plainly (in more than one way in more than one epistle) that Jesus is the end of the Law.  If you're following Jesus, the Old Testament law is irrelevant.  The  new command of Jesus is the only one that matters:

  1. John 13:34
    A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one anotheras I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
  2. John 15:12
    This is my commandment, That ye love one anotheras I have loved you.
Which is why it is inexplicable to me, and so ugly, that  today's evangelical equates being Republican with being Christian.  It makes absolutely no sense.  Anyone who takes the call to follow Jesus seriously can not in good conscience align themselves with the current Republican party.  Go ahead and try.  It just doesn't stand up to scrutiny if you actually read the Bible and want to obey Jesus.  

So, any thoughtful Christian would decry the actions of the congressman from Illinois, right?  After all, the New Testament is pretty plain that the congressman's actions* (railing:  to complain by being harsh and angry (usually followed by "at" or "against") are declared something that disciples of Jesus should clearly not be doing  (I Tim 6:4; I Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 2:11; Jude 1:9).  

That doesn't even take into account the many places Christians are admonished to be kind, gentle, bless and curse not, and to cultivate the lovely fruit of self-control.  There is absolutely no way this rant of a crazed lunatic could qualify as Christian or garner the praise of Christians, right?  Right?!  Right!?!?!

Yeah, not right.  In the break room at a local business, when this childish churl came up on the television, the outspoken Christian in the break room cheered for him, clapped, exulted over his (uninformed and childish) rant.  Worse, her co-worker chimed in a belated "Amen!"  These are the same people who openly sneered at me last year when I remarked that I had nothing against gay folks getting married if they had the courage to go for it.  

These two women probably think they are "good Christians".  I am confident they are Republican.  If a Democrat had engaged in similar behavior, they would be loudly denouncing how "ungodly" the congressman was behaving.  If any one they hated, a gay person or an immigrant or a lawyer for the ACLU, behaved in similar manner, it would probably be reckoned as one more justifying reason for their hatred.  Yet because a Republican cursed, screamed, threw things and whined about not getting his way,  they actually applauded.

I fear for my country.  Pastors openly call for child abuse against boys who love and emulate their mothers, for state executions of gay people,  for ending access to birth control for women and taking away women's right to vote.  They would like to end affirmative action  laws so they can go back to discriminating against minorities in the work place without penalty.  I have heard all these things in either sermons broadcast on the internet, read them in books or witnessed it in person by a pastor from the pulpit.  I even heard one pastor declare that slavery was not wrong, because the Bible supported it, but he wouldn't elaborate because it was not "politically correct".  Uh, dude, it's way worse than that.  Unless nothing would please you more than becoming a slave,  which I doubt, there is no way you can love another person and enslave them at the same time.  It just can't be done.

Which proves my point: Jesus is no longer necessary for American evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.  They have the Bible, which they love way more and gives them permission to love what the current Republican party stands for ONLY IF THEY REMOVE/IGNORE THE WORDS AND LIFE OF CHRIST.  That's exactly what they do.  It's the only way a person who knows how to read could both claim to be a "christian" and honor the rich, slander the poor, ignore the sick, hate homosexuals and resent immigrants.  They have to love their politics more than they love their "lord" if in fact they publicly honor politicians who rail, curse and throw things when Republican legislation isn't passed swiftly.  

As a person truly smitten with Jesus, modern American Christianity disgusts me.  I am reminded  of a saying I heard recently, "Mixing politics with religion is like mixing manure with ice cream.  It does nothing for the manure (politics) but it ruins the ice cream (religion)."  

I haven't been to church regularly since last October.  I don't plan to attend  more than once a month for the foreseeable future.  Once you've been handed a manure-laden ice cream cone, it sort of puts you off of ice cream altogether, even when there is no manure added into the current edition.  *shudder*

There was a time when being ugly and rude was socially unacceptable, and it was largely because of religion that this was true.  But what will happen to our city, our country, when religion is the force behind public demonstrations of hate and violence? If things don't turn around in our society soon, we may find out.  

So while it was easy yesterday to just get up and walk out of the break room, I am concerned that one day not joining in will be enough to have my fellow citizens denounce ME openly. For those who scoff that America will never become so ugly, I hope you are right.  I once thought the church would be a place that promotes peace and advocates for the poor, but reality has dissuaded me of that notion.  Once the church has gone off the rails (and it has) what will keep the whole country from following?

PS The congressman's words were wrong anyway!  The Constitution of the United States of America clearly calls for the role of Speaker of the House.   "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."   You can read the entire text of the Constitution of the United States of America online here: