Sunday, October 20, 2013

Losing my religion

I learned about the love of Jesus, the rock of ages and old rugged cross, from going to church with my grandparents.

When I was a little boy in the '70s, attending Sunday school at the Bible Baptist Church in Jett, Kan. (pop. 4,000), you never EVER heard about politics mixing with religion. It wasn't done. People respected that essential line that separated church from state, preserving the purity of both and preventing each from corrupting the other.

A person's politics were one thing and religion was something else. A Democrat could sit next to a Republican in the same adult Sunday school class and it didn't matter. Nobody gave thought to it because politics didn't matter. That was part of civic life, something apart from one's church life. People didn't get into divisions over politics the way they do today. To my grandparents' generation, the important thing was just to vote and exercise one's Constitutional right.

Nowadays, the words "Christian" and "Republican" are considered
interchangeable. If you're Christian, you have to be Republican, right? When I was a kid, the Republican party was the party of Rotarian-Babbitt styled businessmen, not the self-righteous standard bearer of "traditional values."

It is highly unfortunate that sincere Christians have bought into the manipulative rhetoric of glory-seeking politicians and worldly, politically meddling celebrity clergymen. They have failed to see that just because someone talks a good game about being a Christian, it doesn't mean that person possesses that sterling character, becoming of a Christian.

In fact, the people who make the most noise about what great Christians they are show the least amount of Christ-like love and humility. It is a sad waste, the way so many church-goers have abdicated their God given powers to think and reason. They can't recognize a pharisee when they see one.

I've read the Gospels. Stuff like "Love thy neighbor," "He who is without sin, cast the first stone," (The Golden Rule) "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," "Whosoever would be first among you, shall be servant of all."

Jesus did things like feed the poor and hungry, heal the sick and diseased and hang out with the outcasts of society -- thieves, prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, the poor. He gave hope to those whom society rejected. On the other hand, he was severely critical of those who make a show of piety, the respected religious leaders who "lord it over," who love their power and authority.

Is Jesus not the antithesis of the Religious Right today? Isn't this right-wing element that has hijacked and poisoned our churches the spitting image of first century Pharisees? Yet so many who call themselves Christians today flock toward mean-spirited, judgmental, hate-spewing media figures and websites. And the more hateful they are, the more "conservative Christians" love them.

They don't see that Fox "News" heads like Hannity and Steve Doocey (who I'm embarrassed to say is from my home state of Kansas) are smug and arrogant. It's even in their facial expressions. How can people not see? Are they the same way?

Christ is called "the prince of peace." He said, "My kingdom is no part of this world." How does that square with the jingoistic images I see in religious right facebook pages? They demean the cross by coloring it red, white and blue. I thought Jesus died for the world, not just the United States.

The fb page Christian, Conservative, Patriot and Not Afraid contains images of handguns and assault rifles. It "likes" what I guess are like-minded pages, one of which has as its profile picture an image of Pres. Obama with a noose around his neck. There are "likes" for militia groups.

Those are the fruits of their beliefs.

When I was a kid, Christianity had a good name. The word "Christian" called to mind someone kind and loving, possessing those qualities Paul talked about in the book of Galatians. Nowadays, say "Christian" and it has connotations of bullying and arrogance.

This counterfeit Christianity in the mainstream today, I don't get it. This is not the faith I remember.

                                        I learned about church from my grandparents. I learned about hippie
                                        music from  my mom's record collection.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Teabilly nation

Republicans have sowed the seeds of their own destruction. Committed suicide. Gonna' fall like a house of cards or so I've read.

I live in Kansas where it’s redder than a rare steak dripping over a slaughterhouse floor and let me tell you, the teabilly loons will go into Judgment Day hanging to those cards. They already think Obama has brought on the End Times.

When I was a kid in the '70s and '80s, Republicans were the Country Club party.  Now it's the party of gun fetishists, misogynists, racists, Taliban-like religious fanatics, fag bashers, secessionists and all around thugs.

"Fuck all you Democrats!"

The guy practically shouted from his facebook platform. I've known this guy for years. Had a few beers with him on occasion. I'm thinking it's a good thing he didn't go ahead and get that master's in psychology.

He ranted about how Obama put this country through hell with the government shutdown. That's right, they think he caused it. That $24 billion that Ted Cruz and his big mouth cost the government, they think Obama has it.

My Aunt Betty is a sweet little old lady, part of the prayer chain at her church. Oh and speaking of chains, she forwards email chain letters to my wife and me about three to five times a week -- stuff like how Obama is a racist who hates white people, wants to make it illegal to read the Bible, was born in Kenya …

Her picture was up there, way and high, of veterans unable to view the memorials to fallen soldiers at the Washington Mall. And guess who she blamed for that.

"He's a do nothing president," she wrote. "Look how he's treating our boys."

"They oughta' hang the bastard," Mr. Grissmachy said. He's a corpulent fart of a man whose ass cheeks droop from the stool he occupies at the Backwater Bar and Grill.

Profile pic from a facebook page. I found it via another fb site called Christian Conservative Patriot.

"You like the idea of hanging people, don't you, Mr. Grissmachy?" I said. "Especially certain kinds of people, right?"

"I suppose if you say something bad about Obama, you're a racist," Mr. White Male Victim said.

"Obama's an idiot," Mr. Grissmachy continued. "Did you see the video during the election year where he said he'd been to 57 states? I guess he was counting Kenya."

Poor Mr. Grissmachy. Even the sweat from his fat neck has Fox "News" in it. You can just smell Hannity on him.

You'll find guys like that at the bar. And on Drama--, I mean facebook. Tough kids I knew in school. Guys who fought, drank, chewed Skoal and smoked Camels, kids whose dads had jobs like janitor, tool shed worker and Wonder Bread delivery truck driver. They're on fb now, “liking” Faux News, Rush Limbaugh and posting caricatures of Obama as a chimpanzee. Remember when Democrats were the working class party? 

(I know, I know, there hasn't been a true Democrat in the White House since Jimmy Carter.) 

Sure the one percent would laugh these guys out of the room and Aunt Betty right along with them. But they would follow them straight down to the economic Armageddon they almost caused.

Sen. John McCain dressed his own party down. "It's one of the more shameful chapters that I have seen in the years I have spent in the Senate," he said.

But it's a nightmare he helped create. Nobody knew Sarah Palin before he caved in to the lunatic fringe and brought her out. She was with Ted Cruz, some fool waving a confederate flag and another fool telling Obama to shut the Quran and come out of the White House "with your hands up." They were exploiting veterans.

They represent the good Christians out there. Around a week ago, Cruz, the son of a right wing pastor, was lauded at the so-called Values Voter summit, the annual event hosted by the Family Research Council. You know? That group founded with a Klu Klux Klan mailing list. Nice event, Glen Beck got a laugh with a reference to homosexuals being forced to wear pink triangles in Hitler's concentration camps.

Maybe the Republicans have learned their lesson. Maybe cooler heads will restrain the radicals, but I doubt it. I don't expect the Party of Obstinacy to fold anytime soon. It's like the South after Gettysburg. They've lost, but they're going to hang on to the bitter end.

And there's plenty of good Christian, disaffected white people who will follow them right over the cliff.