Saturday, April 14, 2007

My issues with hyper-Christians and why I moderated my views

I must admit that I've never cared much for devout Christians. None of these misgivings have to do with Christ, whose radical message of peace got him killed. Carrying messages of peace and love is always dangerous: see John Lennon, Ghandi, Martin Luther King -- even the Dixie Chicks -- for the score on that one.

The reason I've never cared much for the devout Christians, other than their compulsive need to declare to most anyone at the most awkward time their personal relationship with Jesus, is that they've often been extremely judgmental about the wrong things and often aggressively associated with the worst political figures. I suppose it isn't fair to judge Christianity by the wacky comments of Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell and others, but when you read the things they've said, largely unrepudiated by their peers, you have to wonder about the rest of the team. For years Evangelicals have been lined up with lots of ungodly things: anti-environmentalism (they fired their lobbyist because he was also an environmental activist), war, gay bashing, the fight against stem cell research, the Vatican's shameful edict against condoms in AIDS stricken Africa and far too much silence on the death penalty.

Many of my misgivings with these people were summed up in the play Inherit the Wind. The denial of science and evolution now reborn in the silly Intelligent Design argument is disturbing. This exchange with a moralistic radio host in the mold of Dr. Laura Schlesinger, fictional of course in its brilliant off the cuff dagger thrusts by Jeb Bartlet, the president from tv's the West Wing, effectively counters the bible as justification for gay bashing and fundamentalism in general. We'd never be fortunate enough to have a real life president like Bartlet in these "Swift Boat," "Did you pay your nanny taxes," "Did you inhale" times:

President Bartlet: Good. I like your show. I like how you
call homosexuality an abomination.
Jenna Jacobs: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination. The Bible does.
President Bartlet: Yes, it does. Leviticus.
Jenna Jacobs: 18:22
President Bartlet: Chapter and verse.
I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested
in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's
a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, and always cleared the table when
it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about
that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working
on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I
morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?
Here's one that's really important, 'cause we've got a lot of sports fans in
this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes us unclean, Leviticus 11:7.
If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play
football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to
be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by
side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments
made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you?

I recently spent a few weeks in the Philippines for the wedding of my sister in law Mildred Ravalo Yap. Mildred is what you would call hyper-religious, like many people in the Philippines. The Philippines is religious enough to close the mall for two days during Holy Week -- that's when you know they are serious. The mall closing says more about their devotion than the mock crucifixions.

Dred does her level best to actually live the life prescribed in the bible. She attains a great deal of inner peace from her faith, and is a charitable, warm, compassionate, selfless person. Part of her charm I'm sure, is that she both looks and has a temperament similar to my wife Cynthia. Dred has many gay friends, and no one I've seen or heard in the PI sees homosexuals as the big problem. I doubt the PI would flip out over the site of Janet Jackson's nipple in a world where children in the world's richest country aren't entitled to medical care, thousands die senselessly in wars and want of cheap vaccinations and religious conflicts between India and Pakistan as well Israel and the rest of the Middle East could lead to Armaggedon.

My colleague Jay Villagomez lives a similar life to my sister in law, and though I've only met her once in person and perused her blog, Bubbles in Paradise, I get that same sense about Saipan Bev. I guess the bottom line comes from a quote I heard from DL Hughley last week on Real Time with Bill Maher: "I believe in God. I just don't believe that everybody who says they work for Him really do."


BoReGo said...

Lyrics from Dc Talk say it best: "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what the unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable".

The Saipan Blogger said...

My ex used to say, "I'm a fan of Jesus, just not a fan of his fan club."

...and I heard Chicago 2 was closed on Good Friday. Now that's religious!

BoReGo said...

I was shunned by the last Christian Church for not being faithful after I delivered my youngest daughter and stopped going to bible studies. I was told that I wasn't disciplining anyone and therefore I was basically not contributing. Not discipling anyone? What about the four people in the world who I will have the most impact on? After that, and many more incidents of legalism, my husband and I decided to leave.

bradinthesand said...

i saw that episode of the west wing--brilliant (is that still the cool word to throw around on saipan?).

i like what cris rock said while portraying rufus in "dogma" as he explained...

(Jesus) still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name - wars, bigotry, but especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and,
like always, built a belief structure on it.

Having beliefs isn't good?

I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can't generate. Life becomes stagnant. That was one thing the Man hated - still life. He wanted
everyone to be as enthralled with living as He was. Maybe it had something to do with knowing when He was going to die, but Christ had this vitality that I've never encountered in another person since. You know what I'm saving?