Friday, April 29, 2005

Quasi-Acerbic Oddities for Today

President Bush says his favorite philosopher is Jesus. I suggest he read the synoptic gospels, underlining in red all the warnings to the rich about the dangers their souls are in and in green all the admonitions to feed the hungry and meet the needs of the poor and suffering with dire consequences for those who don't. Then he should compare his findings with his political works that grant huge tax benefits to the rich and cut benefits for the poor and the neediest people in the country, e. g., his latest budget. If only I could remember how to spell hipocracy, hipokrisy, whatever!

One of the biggest problems for the church is that it is tied to the authority of the Bible. The Book contains some awful morality, including the dreadful jihad passages in Joshua and Esther 9, stoning to death disobedient boys, authorizing fathers to sell their daughters into slavery, (they are property), the death penalty for a multitude of crimes large and small, including the command to kill gay men -- just to list a few of the worst. In the New Testament slavery is approved, never condemned, women are admonished to keep their mouths shut in church, made the villain for the primordial sin, forbidden to teach men, made subordinate to their husbands.

Liberals, evangelicals, fundamentalists -- all are burdened with the worst and the best the Bible has to offer. The only distinction in them is that while each group finds ways to take the authority out of what they don't like, they dislike different things. Each, of course, claims to have the right interpretation. The Bible is important in these disputes only as a common point of reference. The crucial point is what is deauthoritized or simply ignored by the disputants.

Equally challenging is the problem of dealing with the highest and best of Scripture, the Sermon on the Mount being the prime example. All regularly ignore, water down, explain away, the hard passages in Matthew 5. Only a few people since 30 CE have consistently loved their neighbors equally with themselves. At last count there were 97.

Yet we all do love our Bibles, praise it, insist it is our authority, while all the time our creativity rises to its acme in figuring out ways to take the authority out of what we don't like, without ever being embarrassed in the slightest by, or even aware of, what we are doing.

If you are a Christian, please tell me how the ministry of raising the dead and casting out demons is going in your church (Matthew 10:8). These are commands of Jesus to his Apostles. Churches claim to continue the ministry of the Apostles. Now tell me how you explain away the fact that you do not take this very seriously in your church, i. e., have no such ministry.

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