Sunday, May 15, 2011
Thoughts For Sunday
[Evidently the above video is a little unpredictable in its playing (although I think I might have fixed it)... For those who can't see it, it's Bill Maher saying that if you believe in torture and war, and rejoice at killing Osama, you can't call yourself a Christian, since the central teachings of Christ were about loving your enemy, not seeking revenge, turning the other cheek... It is visible here.]
The first 2:40 is not the point, and some might consider turning the sound down till then. But the part about Christians and torture and revenge and the rest? Well, I don't think you can disagree. Forgetting about the rightness or wrongness of policy, it seems inarguable to me that you can't claim to be Christian and ignore what Christ said.
One thing or the other, you have to let go.
Humans are, by nature, hypocrites, among many other disappointing things. (Hard to argue we're the product of some perfect and just creator, no?) So it's not that this behavior is unique to Christians. But, in this era, in the US, people who call themselves Christians are imposing their beliefs on the rest of us in very destructive ways, based, they claim, on their faith and the teachings of Jesus: bashing gays, ignoring science, wanting their beliefs to be taught in public schools. Seeing ghosts of Sharia under their beds.
If you're going to ignore the most central theme (right?) of Jesus' teachings, it sort of makes the rest of your claims nothing more than personal prejudices, picked and chosen, based not on what your god actually said but on what you want to hear.
He said what he said. Believe it, or don't. Follow it, or not. Not a problem; it's your choice. (Free will, yes?) But unless you follow it all, including the turning the cheek liberal sissy stuff that you rail against in your politics, then you're not really a believer, are you? You're an editor.
The bottom line, to me, is this: maybe with the exception of some monks in the Himalayas, I doubt there's anyone who follows all the teachings of his or her stated religion. Because -- shall we admit it? -- the purpose of religion is to quiet our personal demons, to salve the unique wounds of our particular mortality; so we go cafeteria-style. We (and by "we" I mean "not me") use religion like noise-canceling headphones: and we adjust the equalizer to our personal requirements. I wish we could rise above the need, but I accept it; in our frailty, it's what we humans do.
But: evangelicals and other self-described Christians who want to ban gay marriage, who love war, who choose life until birth, who claim the Bible is literally true, who'd impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us: take a minute (as Ben Bailey says) and think. If you find yourself able to rationalize away the main thing your savior says, fine. Do it. You're not alone. But realize the implication: your convictions are too flimsy to force on others. Believe what you need to make it to the other side of this world. Just keep it to yourselves, where it belongs. Stop with the marriage bans, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the self-righteous claims of a higher morality than the rest of us. Keep your religion inside your heart, where it might do some good.
If you did that, I'd have nothing to write about. Religiously speaking.
[Acknowledging I'm no expert in Christian theology (but these guys, ostensibly, are), I'd be honored if someone would take the time to explain what I'm missing here. How is the apparently huge contradiction rationalized?]