Some great connections...
Monday, September 15, 2008
Are they ‘Christian’? Are they ‘right’?
Who are these people who have claimed the words "Christian" and "Right" as if they have some Divine entitlement to them? And why on earth have the rest of us allowed this foolishness? It’s bizarre that they’ve been able to license themselves in this way, making “Christian Right” into a label for a group of people who are no more Christian and no more right than any of the rest of us, and some of whom are very scary indeed. Yeah, yeah. I know Conservatives are right and Liberals are left, and hence the term (i.e., to refer to the Christian bloc among conservatives) but that is also a bit of folly that we've paid dearly for. The words have a powerful subtext. They’ve facilitated these folks arrogating unto themselves the moral high ground, so that the message is not merely that they are conservative but that they are discerning, wise, enlightened. (I suspect that most people hearing ‘right’ in “Christian Right” think not ‘conservative, but ‘correct’.) Perhaps the most frightening thing is that they’ve been allowed to get away with behaving in decidedly un-Christian, not-right ways. While they insist on holding the rest of us accountable, they don’t seem to have to live according to their beliefs. As a Christian, I try to nurture my relationship with the Holy Spirit, and to listen to his guidance as I deal with what I see around me. The Holy Spirit cautions me not to judge anyone but he also reminds me that Jesus gave me a yardstick in the Sermon on the Mount: "By their fruits shall ye know them." So perhaps we should look at some fruits. For example, when it comes to staying married, these folks don’t seem to do so well. I'm quoting from a 2004 article in the New York Times (See http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/weekinreview/14pamb.html): "As researchers have noted, the areas of the country where divorce rates are highest are also frequently the areas where many conservative Christians live." Mmmn. Not such a good fruit crop there… Perhaps we should look for some other telling statistics for the "Bible belt" states. Assuredly, they do not do well in the matter of peace. Peace is paramount in the preaching of Jesus. That teaching began with the angels at his birth, when they sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men.” (Luke 2: 14) He himself exemplified it throughout his life – with perhaps a couple exceptions, one being when he lost his cool and drove the traders out of his father’s house (Luke 19:46), another being when he condemned the Pharisees and Scribes – at some length, it’s worth noting. (Matthew 23). Jesus extols peace making in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5: 9) and, himself faced with weapons in the garden of Gethsemane, warned his disciples against the use of force, against making aggression a way of life: “He who lives by the sword shall perish by it.” (Matthew 26:52) Indisputably the modern version of the sword is the gun. Nonetheless we have ostensible Christians (many being members of the NRA) somehow managing to square their gun toting behaviour with that caution. (I’d especially like to hear Sarah Palin on this.) Worse (for us poor members of the human race, fodder for cannon), how come these claim-to-be-Christians get to support war and take pride in their store of troops, weapons, missiles, and their vast nuclear arsenal? The trouble is that for a lot of people the Holy Spirit is a dead God locked up tight in a book rather than a Live Person who sustains, counsels, guides and comforts. I believe in the Bible as a living Word, one that I contemplate with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I know that God speaks to me, and that if I listen, I can hear him. Aha! Perhaps that's the explanation. Is it that we have not so much "pretend Christians" in the so-called "Christian Right" but deaf ones?