Sunday, April 25, 2010

An Example of American Christian Psychosis

In keeping with my ongoing Sunday series about my thoughts regarding Christianity, the latest was inspired by a conversation on Facebook by a conservative member of my church whom I don't really consider a friend. She's a couple years younger than me, but even back in high school, I knew that she and I didn't have much in common. The differences have only grown in the years since. Her parents are close friends with my parents, and I've gotten to know them pretty well. They are like family to my family. And even though our political views are opposite, they are the kind of people you can have a reasonable conversation with. There wouldn't be any devolving into ugliness that is common with too many folks who don't know how to disagree in a civilized manner.

I didn't expect my innocent comment to start things, but as you can see from what I lifted from the Facebook wall, it got ugly really quick. Instead of arguing, though, I opted out. I've learned that there is simply no reasoning ability in the mind of a fundamentalist-minded Christian. After the Facebook dialogue, I will write more about what I see is a major problem with American-style Christianity, and why I view it as a complete betrayal of what Jesus was all about. First, enjoy reading into the mind of a conservative who hates President Obama without any reason (at least Bush gave us plenty of reasons to despise his presidency).
Shelia:
FINALLY some GOOD NEWS in 2010... taxes will be back tomorrow and paying off 2 loans, family vacation & a credit card! Thank you Lord for some relief!!

Tracy
Ours paid off 2 cars and paid cash for my 2003 Explorer. We are car payment FREEEEE and loving it!!!! Chris and I have been married for over 9 years and we have had a car payment the whole time!!

Me:
Shouldn't you be thanking our president for the tax reforms? God has nothing to do with taxes.


Shelia
I can't think of anything I want to thank our useless excuse of a president for. And yes, God provides me with blessings, even financial ones.

Sue
Thanking our President please do not get me started!!!!!!!!

Shelia
AMEN Sue!

Me:
I'm just keeping it real. I couldn't stand GWB at all but when he gave everyone a $600 tax rebate to stimulate the economy in 2008, I was grateful. It paid for my San Diego vacation. Presidents affect tax policies, not God. That's all I'm saying.


Patty
Nah...but the devil sure has something to do with our current president. I'm just saying.

Shelia
Nicholas, you know I love you, so I will not debate with you. God answers my prayers.

Shelia
AMEN to that Patty!

Patty
LMAO..."From the giant flames of hell so he spawned...and his name shall be OBAMA ..meaning "One Big Ass Mistake America."
One thing that most annoyed me about the exchange is that Shelia has a habit of saying, "You know I love you, but..." Love is not a word I throw around easily. There are not a lot of people that I can say that I honestly "love." I reserve that feeling for family and my closest friends. There might be a broader, general sense of "brotherly love" or "agape love", but for a woman I don't really consider a friend to say rings so untrue. Its also annoying when people make qualifiers before getting to the exception. "I love you, but..." I hate that!

The whole point I wanted to make in that exchange was that our president is more responsible for our country's economic policies. That's why its vitally important for people to understand that it is stupid to vote against your own economic interest. It is documented fact that our economy runs better during Democratic administrations than Republican ones. President Jimmy Carter is the only exception, but he inherited inflation from Nixon and Ford, and our country was on the tail end of a costly war in Vietnam. Wars are a huge drain on our economy. Every dollar spent on bombs to destroy a foreign country is a dollar not spent on our own people where it counts (education, housing, infrastructure, health care).

Yet, to conservative and evangelical Christians, economic policy is not a priority compared to a candidate who mouths pithy platitudes about Jesus being his best friend, even as he does everything in his power to enrich his already wealthy friends by looting the National Treasury. This is my biggest critique of Christianity, because it has failed to present a real alternative to our current economic system and has encouraged followers to be easily fooled by charlatans all because they pretend that Jesus is their best friend.

Do these people even read the Bible? Passage after passage shows that Jesus did not like the establishment class of Pharisees, wealthy business people and government officials. He violated so many laws that he had to be put to death for fear of inspiring an uprising that might've overthrown those in power. So many Bible quotes and parables have Jesus condemning wealthy people as he sided with the poor, the afflicted, the abused, the adulterers, and even the tax collector.

What do these people see? A Capitalist Christ, who advocates a doctrine of submission to authorities, empire building, guns, obsession with unborn fetuses, and fear of the dark-coloured "others." Seriously, as you can see above, a few of them called Obama a devil spawned in hell. Even I didn't think that of Bush (though I believe Cheney is definitely evil, as his actions since 1997 have shown). I guess if you believe Satan is a real being, you'll look for his influence everywhere but where it really shows (Cheney is the complete opposite to what Christ was about. He is the King Herod of our day).

In a way, I feel sorry for Shelia. Since I know about her life history, all I can say is that she is on her third marriage. She has the bad boy / good ole boy fixation. Though her third husband is the best of the lot, even he and I don't have much in common and rarely ever spoke to one another (despite his being a submarine sailor for a time). She's not someone who is in my natural "class of friends" (the well-traveled, college educated, intellectually curious with a comfort and love of foreign cultures), so I understand why she and I will never see eye to eye or be in one another's social circle. Its also interesting to see how "religious" she's become as an adult, as I don't remember her being this "devout" as a teenager and young adult. She came across as a party girl with the big 80s hair.

Reading those comments above, where they hate Obama so much that they can't even acknowledge that he had a part in their receiving bigger than previous years' tax refunds, is just sad. Even though I despised Bush (who actually did things that violated the norm of previous presidents and human decency), I was still able to be grateful to him for his misguided 2008 tax rebate to stimulate the economy to affect the presidential election. My $600 rebate paid for my Memorial Day vacation to San Diego. It wouldn't have happened without George W. Bush. Thus, I can admit that he did one good thing for me.

This brings up another point. Even though I did not like Bush's presidency at all (in fact, I consider it to be the absolute worst in American history, surpassing the administrations of Buchanan, A. Johnson, McKinley, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Nixon), I don't hate him as a human being. I feel sorry for him and was actually impressed by his refusal to give a presidential pardon to Scooter Libby, even after Dick Cheney kept on pestering him in the final days of their administration. To me, it showed a glimmer of a conscience finally breaking through. Perhaps he realized that Cheney had deceived him for far too long and this was his "Anakin Skywalker moment" (when Darth Vader asks Luke Skywalker to take off the mask and acknowledges his salvation).

Among conservatives, they can't respectfully dislike a person. If that person has a different view of how our country should be, they are demonized and equated with evil, without any evidence of evil. At least I can point out specifics when I say that Dick Cheney is the most evil bastard who ever had power in our government (authorizing waterboarding; promoting war against Iraq, Iran, Syria for geo-strategic purposes; obsession with secrecy; snarling smirk). What evidence do these conservative haters have that President Obama is evil? A Fox newscaster saying that its so?

Often, I wonder what Jesus would think of some of his most rabid conservative worshipful followers who believe in a person that hardly reflects the reality of who Jesus was. This is why its ridiculous to base eternal salvation on an historical figure that no one can come to complete agreement about. If all we do is base our impression of Jesus on what is written in the Bible, it makes you wonder what Jesus the conservatives see, because the politicians they support and the economic and foreign policies fundamentalist and evangelical Christians promote completely violate everything Jesus was about. If they can't even get the basic facts about Jesus right, why should anyone believe what they have to say when they approach you to proselytize why you "need" Jesus?

My suggestion is to read the New Testament for yourself and forget about joining churches that promote a Capitalist Christ who advocates the same set of policies as the current incarnation of the Republican Party. I would even bet that Jesus would prefer that you learn about him through the Gospels and use your own intellect, rather than turning your mind over to propagandists in conservative churches which has an ulterior agenda in Republican politics. Most of all, never forget that the Republican Party exists for one core constituency: the wealthy class. If you're not wealthy, you're just a pawn and a foot soldier to be used and discarded once they have gotten into power. This is something Jesus would have never supported.

Special word to teabaggers who complain about taxes...when Jesus was asked by a Pharisee about money and the paying of taxes, he replied with: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." He was no anti-tax conservative, that's for sure. Time to "Get Real for God." Amen!

3 comments:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

You're far more tolerant than I am, Sansego. I usually end up in shouting matches with people like this, so I don't have those conversations anymore!

terripatrick said...

Whenever someone quotes the bible to me, I ask which version. Then I make comments about editors, translators and sometimes refer to the invention of punctuation in the 1500's. Maybe their current bible isn't quite the direct quotes they perceive?

Sansego said...

Good points.

The reason why I engage these people is because they live in a world where everyone thinks like them and they really need exposure to other ideas without labeling them as "evil." Its a pointless effort, but maybe I'm planting seeds in their reasoning mind that will grow to fruition some day.

Terripatrick: I'm currently reading "Jesus of Nazareth" by Paul Verhoeven. Its a completely different take on Jesus's life than I had ever read before, thus pretty interesting. I wish these "literalists" would realize that none of us know the truth about Jesus's life because it has been so distorted over the years and none of us witnessed anything, so how can one truly base their entire belief system on that? I prefer to base my belief system on what I've personally experienced and witnessed.