Monday, January 05, 2009

Holy of Holies - My Christian Rant


From time to time, I find myself knee deep in religious falderal, vainly trying to debunk the sordid mythologies that creep into our cultural machinery, clogging the drains and backing up the john. For nigh on 30 years, I've been holding my 'faith' close to my chest while others wave theirs around like a virgin's wedding night bedlinen. People of strong faith, particularly Christian, love to use their faith as a golden bludgeon. They put it on public display so you can be awed by its shiny goldenness but never hesitate to use it should you ask why. I have had a few bruises to show for the questions I've asked.

So, here it is in all its glory... my take on religion and faith...just in time for the holidays.

Christianity began 2000 years ago, give or take a few years depending on which bible scholar's math you believe and whether or not they remembered to carry the one. The story is well known but here is the short version.

The Gospel According to Shamanaqua:

A young couple, freshly married and pregnant, go into a small town to be registered as citizens for a census. They found refuge in a barn and shortly thereafter delivered a healthy baby boy. The livestock found it to be rather entertaining.

Anyway, this baby was foretold to be the 'Son of God' and would lead his people, the Hebrews, out from under the repressive thumb of Rome. He is raised by his father to be a carpenter until the age of 12.

This is the part of the story where it is more fill-in-the-blanks. Not much is written about him for 18 years. This gap gives many of the fringe religions plenty of leeway in creating a whole new set of stories involving this man and his adventures all over the world. But, in the main text of Christianity, not much happens except he becomes an adult. He visits his rather eccentric cousin who lives near the river and gets baptized. Apparently this gives him the incentive to leave his father's business and become a religious prophet. He buys into the 'Son of god' mythos.

For three years he gathers followers, 12 apostles, a groupie named Mary and a host of rich friends. He marches into Jerusalem as people throw palm fronds at his feet. (or donkey's feet if you go by the story) He preaches to the masses, gets busted by the local cops. When questioned about Jesus' activities, his followers throw him under the bus (or donkey, I guess) The Feds (Romans) want nothing to do with him for political reasons, send it back to local jurisdiction and Jesus gets crucified.

The rest is more mythology (faith, if you're Christian) meant to solidify the mystery for the faithful.

Good story. Bit of a downer at the end but it holds up against myths from other faiths.

Now, before you get your bloomers in a bunch, there's no reason to think that this is meant to demean your faith. If you believe that this is the True and Actual History of Jesus Christ, the Messiah then OK, so be it. Why would my opinion matter to you?

I look at all faiths and their mysteries through the same lens, even my own. I have no, repeat no, idea how to answer those lofty questions about the origin of the universe, the reality of '?' (God, Allah, Buddha, Ramtha, Flying Spaghetti Monster, -insert your deity of choice here-) So I do what people of faith have been doing for centuries - I make it up as I go.

I mean, how can we answer those questions when we are so small and insignificant in the grand scope of the Universe? Can a flea relate to the applications of quantum mechanics? Should he? The flea does the best he can within the confines of being a flea. Perhaps some day a flea may come along that can be a little more aware of such things as quantum mechanics but he still ain't no Einstein. He's still a flea, for God's sake.

So we, as puny humans, cast our lot with a myriad of myths and legends. Unfortunately, it is also quite human to maintain that ours is the one true faith and that all others are the myths. Not just myths, mind you, but dangerous and viral myths that threaten to poison the minds of the faithful and condemn us all in '?'s (insert deity here) eyes. Kind of like cheering on your favorite football team but with swords, guns and bombs. Not unlike English soccer.

Christianity lost its way long ago when it decided to become the de facto religion in the world. Never mind that the other religions had a real problem with that position. Thus began the Dark Ages.

When discussing religion, I make one observation that tends to rankle the faithful.

Jesus Christ was the last true Christian, and he was Jewish.

I say this because of the history his followers made after he died. Sure, they were persecuted in the beginning, Christianity certainly doesn't have a monopoly on intolerance. They were a threat to the political theatre that was being played out at the time. But once they got a Roman Emperor on their side, they got a chance at some pay back. Enter the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD and you have the start of an oligarchy. Over the next 1700 years, the characters of this theatre changed but the script has remained intact. That's 1700 years of bloodshed over who's God is bigger, badder and more 'loving and compassionate'. Millions of innocent people died because they were raised in a culture that wasn't Christian and refused to change their mind.

There is NO correct faith. There is NO absolute definitive way for us to recognize the Creator. We are small and have not the capacity to comprehend the scope of what it would take to look upon the 'face' of the Creator. All we have are our myths. Sure, they seem silly to those who don't hold them dear but that's the way of humanity. We are individuals and each have a unique way of bundling our facts, our beliefs, our histories, and our experiences into a form that seems reasonable to answer the unanswerable.

I may not agree with your myth. I may even say that it runs counter to everything I believe but I cannot say you should not believe it. Your beliefs are yours, mine are mine. I have as much right to tell you to change your beliefs as I have in telling you to change your fingerprints. The reverse is especially true.

Proselytization and forced conversion are not religious. They are political, abhorant and counter to the development of humanity. The history of these policies has been violent, bloody and responsible for the death of millions of innocent people. All in the name of God. To be more precise, all in the name of Christ or Mohammad. Better still, all in the name of Power.

When the world's religions abandon the premise of conversion of the non-believer only then will they begin to approach what Jesus Christ's real mission was - to lift up the downtrodden and give them a chance to succeed according to their own faith. Until then, it's just another get-rich-quick scheme on a global scale.

Those are my beliefs, your mileage may differ.

So Mote It Be,
David A.


1 comment:

Monkeyfister said...

David--

I guaruntee you that Jesus' 40 days in the desert was the major changer for his life. I also think that he went to India and Persia to visit the three Magi who visited him in his youth, and those travels changed him forever. I've studied Eastern Religions pretty thoroughly, and I see their influence in the Gospels.

I too am a "Matthew 6" sort of Christian. Pray quietly, don't make a scene of your Christianity, be humble about it. My faith is pretty strong, but I never speak of it. It's mine.

I, too, struggle with all of the same things that you do. All of them. I was nearly called in front of an HR board by an Arm-Band wearing "Christian," who stole some tools of mine (with proof). My confrontation with him, and his lying, was fine with him, until I called him a "Good Christian," when a third party said he failed to do something that he was charged, as an Active Duty Navy Petty Officer to do just an hour or so after our confrontation.

"He wouldn't lie to you, he's a 'Good Christian'," I said...

KERBOOM!!! Suddenly, I ws talking to the Chief, and then to my LT, and then to my Department Director before all of it died off.

CAPT: "Did you call Petty Officer X a "good Christian?"
ME: "Yes, I did."
CAPT: "Did you mean that?"
ME: "Sir, is there really an answer to that question that will not further harm the Petty Officer's standing here? I wasn't trying to hurt him, sir, I was merely voicing opinion, and teaching a lesson. As voiced, I was sticking up for the Petty Officer in spite of our previous difference."
CAPT (after some consideration): I see your point. This affair is dismissed.

There are Christians, and then there are "Christianists," and then there are Moonies disguised as "Christians."

Because of that 2/3 majority, I find it beneficial to closet my beliefs, and just attack the hypocrisy from my place of knowledge and faith, and promote my beliefs in quiet and sometimes veiled methods. Plenty of bloggers and neighbors, and people I don't even know, know the loving nature of my Matthew 6 Christianity. It's part of why I garden and hunt, and keep this job in the heart of the Beast.

I am blessed with a great job, and good, steady pay. I still live my life as if I am a poor starving hippie student, leaving me a surplus with which to help others whenever I can.

Every now and then, I get off on an Atheistic bend at my place, but, it's not really that, it's doing exactly what you're doing here... railing against the Christianist Industry.

I don't attend church anymore, as I find my gardens and the woods much better sanctuaries, but I accept every invite from friends and co-workers to attend their church(es). It is the civil thing to do, but, I have lost my faith in any organized religion... including, and especially the Catholic Religion in which I was raised.

Because of my upbringing, I know my relationship with God and Christ, but now I know that I don't need a pasty, wealthy Pastor who's buggering kids, or cheating on his wife to tell me how to get right, while asking me to please give over 10% of your income. Fuck that. I do that on my own to help others... and then some.

I attend plenty of Rainbow Gatherings, and I love the Christians who come and set up excellent kitchens, and softly... SOFTLY... evangelize. That is one thing, but the Pat Robertsons and Ted Haggards and Rick The Brokeback Christianist just piss me off, and will never speak for me.

It's a fine line, and I have a hard time with it. But, it is more than reassuring to know that you are also dealing with the same bullshit. There are a LOT of us on the Left. One can read it in our peers' words. We're not alone. It's how it is.

Count me in.

Solidarity in faith.

--mf