Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas . . . now let's all try to be more like Christ, OK?

Arkansas Times: "

“Certainty is the narcotic of the right wing,” Gordon said — and they are marvelously adept at pushing it. They have been much more willing to stand up in pulpits and on TV news shows and proclaim what is right and wrong, selling a brand of Christianity that doesn’t allow room for complexity.

“It is far, far easier to be on the right than in the middle or on the left, because everything is already determined for you,” Pulaski Heights Baptist’s Hyde said.

But I wonder why progressive Christians can’t do the same thing. Yes, we almost define ourselves by our inclusiveness, by our emphasis on Jesus as a loving savior, not a judgmental one. But we also have black-and-white beliefs, just like conservatives do: Greed is wrong. Poverty is unjust. Compassion is commanded. If it’s certainty people want, we can give it to them in spades.

This is a long article but well worth reading. It had not truly occured to me that there were probably just as many Christian Liberals who were dismayed at removal of Christ from the holiday season as there were Right Wing Christians who were out-and-out outraged about it. But there is a key difference between Christian liberals and Right Wing Christians: Christian liberals are more Christlike.

As the article says:

And this: With all the millions of children in our country who don’t have enough food, clothing, or love, how can right-wing Christians possibly still cling to the delusion that God thinks gay people are the biggest threat to Christian values? Times Jesus mentions the poor in the gospels: I lost count halfway through Matthew. Times he mentions homosexuality: Zero.

At no point does Jesus say "Thou shalt affix a fish to thy SUV and thou shalt send thy children to Bible Camp, and that will be enough to save your soul."

No, Jesus says to help the less fortunate, to prioritize social changes that help others, he says to love your enemies, maintain peace and work toward a better world for everyone.

The article ends on a much more hopeful note than anything I've read in some time:

From an op-ed piece called “Recovering a hijacked faith,” published in the Boston Globe last July:

“When we take back our faith, we will discover that faith challenges the powers that be to do justice for the poor instead of preaching a ‘prosperity gospel’ and supporting politicians who further enrich the wealthy. We will remember that faith hates violence and tries to reduce it, and exerts a fundamental presumption against war instead of justifying it in God’s name.

“We will see that faith creates community from racial, class and gender divisions, prefers international community over nationalist religion, and that ‘God bless America’ is found nowhere in the Bible. And we will be reminded that faith regards matters such as the sacredness of life and family bonds as so important that they should never be used as ideological symbols or mere political pawns in partisan warfare.

“…When the poor are defended on moral or religious grounds, it is not ‘class warfare,’ as the rich will always charge, but rather a direct response to the overwhelming focus in the Scriptures, which claims they are regularly neglected, exploited, and oppressed by wealthy elites, political rulers, and indifferent affluent populations. Those Scriptures don’t simply endorse the social programs of liberals or conservatives, but make clear that poverty is indeed a religious issue, and the failure of political leaders to help uplift those in poverty will be judged a moral failing.”

This is where we need to work. We need to continue within the framework of what Christ did and said, not within the framework of what Jerry Falwell says. We need to stop blocking Christians out of the party because we think they are bigoted and brainwashed. They are not all that way- and progressive Christians are out there, just waiting for the Democrats to speak to them rather than against them.

So, Merry Christmas to those Christians who continue to bring Christ's words to life.

Happy Kwanzaa to whoever chooses to celebrate it.

And Happy Boxing Day to all Canadians. We appreciate your help.

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