Sunday, June 29, 2014

Seek the higher ground.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ New Testament, Matthew, 22: 37-40.

Right there it is. In those four lines lie the keys to the entire Christian religion. Love God with everything you've got, and love your neighbor, your fellow man, as you love your family and yourself. It doesn't get any clearer than that, even for a faithless heretic such as me, yet the most vocal opponents to government social programs like universal health care, assistance for the poor and disabled, and just about any other safety net funded by taxpayer dollars seem to conveniently forget this, the first rule of Christendom.

Their argument usually goes something like this: “America was founded as a Christian nation (it wasn't) and the traditional role of the church has always been to provide the social safety net (which it obviously didn’t do a very good job of), and that nowhere in the biblical scriptures is there any reference  to Christ asking the Roman or Jewish governments to step up to the plate and assist the poor and downtrodden.”

In the first place, Jesus would have been pretty whacked out to think he had any chance at convincing Rome or the local politicos of his day to crank up a major social program on the order of our modern safety nets. It wouldn't have happened and everyone at the time knew it, so there wouldn't have been any point in pushing for such an agenda. Jesus rightly concentrated his efforts on winning and changing the hearts of the common people where he lived and taught. He led by example, showing his neighbors how best to care for each other and live better, more humane lives in a world far more barbaric than the one most of us experience today.

While the misguided right-wing Christians of today, deluded by the conservative, corporate Republican propaganda machine, are so adamantly opposed to expanding government social programs or guaranteeing civil rights for all; I have to wonder, just what do they think a true Christian government would look like? These are, after all, the same folks who are so quick to hammer on the idea that this nation was founded on “Christian principles.” To my understanding, you cannot oppose providing decent food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care – the basic necessities of life in our modern world, or treating all people with equal human dignity, no matter what you may personally think of them, and still honestly call yourself a Christian. To do so is to break the highest law laid down by your Savior – love God with all of your being, and love thy neighbor as thyself.

This hypocrisy is the primary reason why I and many other decent people in the world today absolutely refuse to participate in any form of organized religion, Christian or otherwise. The teachings and values of Jesus of Nazareth have been so corrupted and co-opted that in my forty odd years on the planet I have yet to find a church anywhere not infected to one degree or another with this vile disease.

You people bitch and whine about taxes and budget deficits and say it’s the church’s responsibility to provide for the social welfare of society, not the government; but all I ever see is a bunch of folks forking over their hard earned cash so some lazy piece of shit can make like a money-changer in “God’s house” and live high on the hog in the process. To make matters worse, most of the people handing over the money can’t afford to do so in the first place because they are old, sick, or disabled, but mostly they’re just scared to death of dying outside the good graces of the church.

Even the few denominations without a paid clergy end up with a few privileged elders at the top of the pyramid scheme, living like kings off the broken backs of the paupers at the bottom. It’s like my friend, Brother Tim said in a post a while back (Sadly, Brother Tim died shortly after this was originally written in late 2009.), most seminaries spend more time teaching future preachers and clergymen to fill the pews and raise the dough than they do teaching them how to lead and live as examples of what it’s all really supposed to be about.

If the totality of our social needs were suddenly thrust upon “faith based charities” (i.e. churches) today we’d have five or ten times as many hungry, sick, demented people roaming the roads and sleeping in boxes than we already have, in part because organized religion has turned so many people against organized religion in general over the last few generations. Between the blatantly corrupt leadership I just finished raving about and the ironclad adherence to ideas many people find absolutely laughable – such as the infallibility of every word in the Holy Bible; a book so chopped up and edited for expediency as to be rendered highly suspect and almost incoherent – organized religion has destroyed itself and its credibility in the world. The same is probably true for many other religions too. I’m sure Islam has been funked up, twisted, and misused by a few zealots in the world because I’ve actually taken a little time and studied it enough to know that like Christianity, the core tenets boil down to love, peace, and compassion. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is either manipulating you or just plain ignorant, and either way is part of the problem.

For me, I guess it comes down to this: God is way too big, too incomprehensible for us pea-brained little humans to understand. If you are one of those people who goes around talking up the idea that God is in control of everything and the Jesus loves us all, how the Hell can you not be in favor of our government moving toward something that brings about greater love and compassion in the world, be it universal health care or the freedom to marry the person you love no matter what kind of biological cards you were dealt at conception? I just don’t get it! It’s so plain, so simple that if I, a forty-something jackass who hasn’t set foot in a church in over fifteen years can understand it, why can’t the rest of you get it too?

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