All Rights Reserved © 2006 Thomas W. Day
"Christianity" has confused me since I was a young boy. In church, the Methodist Church to be exact, I learned that Jesus (the "Christ" in "Christian," as best I understood) was a particularly intolerant man who set out some extremely clear and simple rules to get to heaven. In his little section of the Bible he supposedly said, "You have heard the commandment, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.' But what I say to you is: offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other. If anyone wants your shirt, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the man who begs from you. Do not turn your back on the borrower. . . If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment. Your verdict on others will be the verdict passed on you . . . Threat others the way you would have them treat you: this sums up the law and the prophets . . . I have come to call, not the self-righteous, but sinners . . . It is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth . . . It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." And on he goes, condemning public prayer, cathedrals of religion, organized religion in general, prejudice, jealousy, violence, and greed. Wow! If you can find room in that to be rich, for capital punishment, to persecute anyone for anything, and to go to war, you read between the lines much better than me. If "Christians" actually listened to Jesus, they'd be pretty astoundingly peaceful people.
Nothing I saw from the parishioners or even the pastor of my hometown church, or practically anyone else's church, resembled attempts to live the life Jesus described as "the way" into Heaven. My country was an even worse offender. The United States was building and using the world's worst weapons of mass destruction decades before I was born, conducting a horrific war in Korea when I was two, spreading instability and supporting anti-democratic regimes in Africa and South America through my toddling years, and bombing the snot out of a small Asian country when I was a teenager. Through all of these greedy and violent acts, most US churches argued that "god was on our side," even if his "only begotten son" would have sentenced us to eternal damnation for those sins. Our current fearful leader actually personally condemned people to death in his old job of Texas Head Executioner and, still, imagines himself to be following Jesus. He believes his current crusade to enrich the already filthy rich and powerful is, somehow, found in Jesus' teachings. You'd have to be completely illiterate to read that in Jesus' small portion of the New Testament.
All these years, I've been unable to figure out why so many people call themselves "Christian" when "the Christ" has so little to do with their behavior. They could be followers of Moses or any number of hateful, murdering, greedy, child-virgin-raping Old Testament characters or even Islam's Mohammed, but the teachings of Jesus are unimaginably far from their actions and beliefs.
It's not a matter of failing to act, they are outright proud of ignoring Jesus' instructions. So, if they aren't Christ-followers, what are they?
This week, Mel Gibson the smugly-righteous, deeply-religious conservative, proudly-retro-Catholic, constantly-breeding actor in Hollywood gets drunk, drives down a busy California road, and, when he is pulled over for endangering innocent lives on the highway, flames into a nutty rant blaming Jews for all of his ineptitudes and moral failures. Of course, having a god-complex Gibson also has to toss out blame for all of the world's problems to this tiny fraction of the world's population. If you're going to be insane, you might was well go for the whole ball of mania. Having read a bit from his roadside rant, it dawned on me what he and the rest of the knee-jerking fundamentalist crowd are; Jews who hate Jews.
The difference between the Old Testament and the Torah is miniscule, I've been told. That's the best I can do for you. Both books are so full of murder, prejudice, hatred, mumbo-jumbo, and obscure inconsistencies that I can more easily re-read my old college calculus textbooks than I can wade through the gore and misery found in those giant manuscripts. College calculus has been a cure for insomnia since I was a teenager. Suffering the ancient sheepherder ranting found in the Old Testament is as painfully weird as reading the Greek and Irish Ulysses randomly sorted and backwards.
If those two books are fundamentally the same, however, nothing else explains the actions of fundamentalist neocons. In deed and word, they are exactly like the characters who run modern Israel. Nobody loves revenge like these folks. They extract thousands of eyes for a single Jewish or US eye. The closest they get to turning the other cheek is when they have to reach across their body for a weapon. They celebrate the death penalty. They covet wealth and abuse the poor, the downtrodden, and the "unclean." It's hard for them to decide which group they want to persecute next, there are so many to choose from. If Pat Robertson, Jerry Farwell, Oral Roberts, and the rest were not "self-righteous" they wouldn't have personalities at all.
And rich? Man, these folks can't get their hands on enough cash. The Treasury can't print it fast enough for them. When they aren't grubbing money, they're coveting power. It's hard for them to keep track of which they desire the most.
All of these characteristics are exactly like the state and the people they love to hate; Israel and the Jews. Listening to Israel's politicians explain away the inconvenience of all the innocent life they are wasting in Lebanon is "déjà' vu' all over again." I've heard exactly the same words from Bush and CRAP, throughout the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions and occupations. Their exchange rate for eyes must require a dump truck for each US or Israeli optical injury. And they justify it through exactly the same religious context.
It still remains unclear to me why our fundamentalists have chosen not to call themselves Jewish. It, obviously, isn't because they have some serious attachment to any part of Jesus of Nazareth. Maybe they just think "Christian" sounds better than "Jewish?"