Sunday, April 24, 2011

And Good Christians All

It's a strange breed of Christian that wants to stomp on the downtrodden. I'll confess to not studying the Bible in many years, but I don't recall any invocation to screw the needy. And yet it must be there, because all around us, screaming their fool heads off, there's an army of self-proclaimed good Christians. And boy are they pissed!

Poor old Jesus. What would he make of it all?

Remember this one? "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." That went right out the window, didn't it? Just not practical for these times. Got to look out for old number one, you know? Sorry, but you're on your own. After all, charity begins at home.

OK, what about "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God"? Well, he was young and when you're young you say a lot of crazy things. For instance, I know some people who swore 30 years ago that Boston was a great band. No, I'm sure he'd change that one, given the chance. Because we all know that in America, where God reportedly sheds most of His grace, being poor is the greatest sin imaginable.

If God really loved you, He would have made you rich. Since you aren't, obviously God has found you lacking in some way. You are not worthy of God's love. And so we'll let you fall by the wayside.

The simplest, and probably the best, ethical system I can imagine was summed up by Confucius about 500 years before Christ was born: "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." No need for the Big Man upstairs to keep track. No Heaven as a reward, no Hell as a threat, and no need to keep passing the collection plate. (If Jesus ever does come back, and personally I'm not holding my breath, he should ask to look at the books, first thing.) No, just try your damnedest to be good to people and they'll try to be good to you.

But I guess that's too simple. Apparently we need the profit motive, and various hierarchies, and always, always, enemies, to give order and meaning to our lives. Inquisitions, and Crusades, and Reformations, and every manner of Holy War, and converting the heathen before you butcher them, and missionaries and zealots, and being born again, and all that mumbo jumbo. And through it all, these words of Pascal ring true: "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious convictions."

I began to have suspicions about organized religion when I was 8 and gave up church going for good when I was 12. My mother remained devout. Maybe her faith gave her some solace as she slipped into the deep waters of dementia. I hope so.

Anyway, I'm sure it was all part of God's plan for her. Right? Isn't that what they say, whatever unspeakable tragedy befalls you? AIDS? Part of God's plan. War, famine, plague, cancer, Alzheimer's, the death of a child, etc. Not for us to question, part of God's plan. Holocaust? Part of God's plan. Oh sure, there's evil. The Devil and his many minions. But since an all powerful God is by definition more powerful than them, He still has the final say. Right?

And so we're left with a dilemma. If there is a God, then watching the innocent suffer must be His favorite spectator sport. Damn me to Hell, but I find it hard to feel much for a serial sadist.

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