I am a very calm person, a quiet person, you might even say a over-whelmingly shy individual. I never yell; I always have a “library voice.” I just generally have a lamb-like tranquility.
But that is so hard to keep with two fundamental issues that come up over and over again in my life. I can barely contain myself to civility when I hear shit like…
1. “As a Christian I am morally against…”
So lately this has come up time and time again with one thing: gay rights. I’ve had several friends and a loved one talk about a protest against Starbucks because Starbucks has sided with a general gay rights “agenda.” But what really sparks my rage in this situation is that some Jesus pundits had the nerve and the gall to suggest that a Starbucks boycott would bless the United States.
This deeply, deeply offends me as a Christian. Take your stereotype of a fundamentalist Christian and have them watch an inter-racial and Muslim gay couple making out and imagine their reaction. That is how I feel.
First of all, God ain’t never going to bless America because God doesn’t care about our stupid nationalities. Whatever happened to our only kingdom being heaven? Why is it when someone says “God bless America” they get cheers, but when I say “God bless Armenia” I get weird looks? Oh, do we not want blessings for Armenia (God loves all his children, right?) or is it that patriotism has taken on a sickeningly religious attitude where we believe God could and would prefer America above all other persons?
Secondly, and I will carry this torch until Judgment, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is ABSOLUTELY NOT about homosexuality. The story goes that angels visited Lot in disguise and an angry mob of men descended and wanted to “know” them. The conservative Christian interpretation of this story is that homosexuality is wrong. They casually but rather importantly leave out the issue that maybe it’s just wrong to come to a host’s house and request to gang rape the visitors. Put simply, here is the conservative analysis…
HOMOSEXUALITY = HUGE SIN. GANG RAPE = MOOT POINT.
And the Bible itself is not ambiguous on this. When Jesus references the Sodom story, he’s not talking about gay people, but telling his disciples about the consequences for cities that show inhospitality–like gang raping visitors, you know.
So basically, the real Sodomites are those who are disrespectful to visitors/outsiders. Hmm… see where I am going with this? As to why I think the Bible explicitly condemns the idea of a nation gathering together to think God will bless them for rejecting those they feel “aren’t us?”
I dislike the concept of accusations of sin–in itself a very un-Biblical idea–but were it to happen, I would cast my stones toward those who rally politically against the LGBT in this country. I just rather want to press to them, and those that come to despise Christianity because of them, to stop bastardizing the Bible for a political cause.
2. “Doctors Who Get Abortions Should Get the Death Penalty” (said by Catholics)
There’s a sort of conception going round the fields that in order to be a truly *true* Catholic (or Christian for that matter) you have to have a general moral attitude that conforms with that of much of the right-wing movement. Christians know it, non-Christians see it. The more “I hate gay people, abortion and Muslims” you are the more you’re seen as someone who really, really takes religion seriously.
So not true.
It occurred to me last night that while a lot of anti-Muslim groups in America target Islam as responsible for terrorism, they block out the idea that perhaps religious fundamentalism was the actual problem. Because I stick to the latter, this means something to me. I think Islam is swell. I’ve studied it a bit, talked to people who are Muslim about their faith, it’s nice and also really damn normal too.
But this conception of what is a “hardcore” or “fundamentalist” Christian in America is absolutely false. If we’re going to use the word “fundamentalist” in its literal sense, then that means ascribing to the ideas and concepts that God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. That *might* align with the general agenda of conservative movements, but if it didn’t, they’d just be a very, very outspoken group of heretics doing lip-service.
Because here’s the catch, the Vatican is just as explicit about the death penalty as it is on abortion. Call me a Cafeteria Catholic if you like for sticking to my pro-choice guns, but if you aren’t morally opposed to capital punishment then you’re carrying the same tray. The Vatican has also come out on being anti-homophobia (carefully defined), pro ecology, anti-poverty and generally anti-war. There is a lot of reasons to see a sort of left-liberal bias to the Roman Catholic Church, but somehow conservatives still feel that being pro-life is the only card they need in their hand to being legit.
So here is my call to Catholics, Christians and non-Christians alike. The definition of what is a “Christian” is not defined by those who proclaim it most strongly in the media. There are millions of us who see something as poverty as far more morally outrageous, far more anti-Christian values, than if two men get a marriage license in Washington state. And frankly, I really do believe that if the definition of “Christian” gets too co-opted by the right-wing, there will be a reaction.
3. “Buddhism/Wicca Is a Peaceful Religion.”
Now, I’m going to turn against the general demographic who up until now might’ve been sympathetic to me. With all the war, social hatred and strife how could I possibly hate on Wiccans/neo-pagans or Buddhists? Simple answer: they are still human.
Hear me out.
No. I’m not accusing either of abuses (Buddhism has had some ugly history but not to get into quabbles.) But insofar as the Abrahamic religions are scorned for their content, I think it’s best to judge why so, and what causes such.
Christianity and Islam are mostly held accountable because some adherents take a legalistic view of passages of scripture. The main criticism I hear and I myself make of Christianity is that people do really bad stuff because it’s “in the Bible.”
But to me, there’s more at stake. Suppose that Buddhists were, in some kind of alternate reality, assume the majority. No harm, right? Buddhism doesn’t have a lot of scripture to analyse and it’s mostly peaceful. HOWEVER, one of the fundamental tenets of Buddhism is to adapt a sort of passive attitude toward the world. This carries within it a very possible method of abuse if it were made politically. “This is just how the world is, accept it with quiet resignation.” Capitalism already does this, more or less, but given a religious twist it could have drastic and very real social consequences.
Wicca. Wiccans have never done anything wrong. Their neo-pagan counter-parts… well… a lot of them turn out to be white supremacists in prison for hate crimes, but over-all there isn’t a lot of evil in the movement. But there could be. One of the fundamental aspects of these new revival religions is that you essentially create your own. You choose what gods/goddesses you like, you interpret how you think the basic harmony of the world is structured, etc. I know some might disagree with me on this, but I think this is really the primary appeal to Wicca/neo-paganism: you get to make your own rules.
I think this parallels also one of the biggest flaws in our society today, the idea that what one believes is one’s own and is above the judgment of society. I do like and cling to my own personal preferences, but I have to realize everyone else does too, and for any sort of social function there have to be some rules guiding how to manage conflicting wants (the whole premise of political philosophy.)
But Wicca could therein provide the basis for abuse, so long as the abuse could be categorized as something “personal” to the abuser and therefore with sacred protection. As there are no higher rules to follow, except whim, why not?
I realize these hypotheticals are a stretch, but I think it still underlines that religions may not in a fundamental way also be responsible for their abuse. For me, crimes of religion always carry some larger goal–political, economic, etc.–and the drive for power or money is no going to just disappear under the auspices of some other religious ideology (or an atheist ideology, as in Stalinist Russia.)
Give me the Girl Scout’s code to follow and the opportunity to seize another country’s riches or get into political office, believe me, I’d make it work.