Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The White Papers

The White Papers

Keeping with a recent theme at the White Papers, this is the first part of a reflection on Christianity that will take more than one post:

I’ve been troubled, since I memorized the Sermon on the Mount during my teen years in the ‘70s, by the divergence between the teachings of Jesus and the practices of Christians.
There is something decidedly odd about the fact that so many of those who claim the name of the man called the Prince of Peace -- who preached non-violence, loving enemies and went to his death without a fight -- have such a love of violence and war and knee-jerk contempt for those who do not share their beliefs.
What to make of this? One possibility is that these folks -- in the spirit of Pappy O’Daniel in O Brother Where Art Thou I’ll call them “Kill-Your-Enemies Christians” -- are not. They are the false believers mentioned repeatedly in the pastoral letters of the apostles Paul and Peter. However, that puts me in the position of judging the spirituality of people, a place I don’t belong.
The position on which I settled was that God intended that his followers to take a variety of positions. My justification for this was from Paul’s image of the church as a body, and his list of spiritual gifts. The idea is that God wills that Christians be both conservative and liberal, to have different theological beliefs, and to have all different types of talents and tendencies. It all melds together into a glorious pot that one day we’ll understand at the end of time.
It is unmistakable that different denominations and sects have used different passages to come to different conclusions about the meaning of scripture. I thought that was because there was some key to understanding that was not granted to us mortals. Maybe God didn’t want everything spelled out to prevent us from worshiping the text instead of the creator.
Now, however, I’m having second thoughts ...

More to come sometime when I don't have to coach hockey.

4 comments:

jovial_cynic said...

i think what you're describing is the difference between christianity and churchianity. western christianity is often far removed from biblical context; the west values their democracy and freedom because it makes them comfortable and fat, and they preach a message that perpetuates that very condition... hence the strong conservative/republican/christian relationship.

anti-american? you must hate God! anti-christian? you must hate america! that's often the message, right?

bleah. churchianity. pisses me off.

The Red Queen said...

i'm not a fan of churchianity either- but I'd probably never belong to any club that would have me as a member.

lf said...

jovial: I attended a Baptist church a couple of years back in which the congregation sang the various military theme songs. I was astonished. Who could imagine Jesus worshiping the US military, or any military for that matter?

But ultimately, I think the problem I have runs deeper than the conservative misuse of Scriptures, which is where I used to be. But I'll get around to that, when and if I finish.

Queen, you would like TonioK., a snarky, cynical musician who in the 1970s recorded some the best rock albums ever, according to no less an authority than Stereo Review. His songs about politics and relationships were precient and prophetic (one song about a jilted boy who kills a bunch of kids at his school). Anyway, your comment reminds me of a line in one of his songs that says: "I just want someone who can laugh at the fact that there ain't nothing funny."

jovial_cynic said...

I attended an assemblies of god church that ran all the military theme songs as well, and encouraged the congregation to sing along. It dawned me immediately that the pastor could have led the congregation to do anything and they probably would have all happily joined in.

So yeah -- it's not just the association with right-wing politics, I understand that. It's with the deification of the man behind the pulpit that's also the problem.

It's a pity more Christians don't read more of their bibles, instead of just pulling verses that justify their actions.