Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Have you ever wondered how a preacher or anyone takes an entire book of the bible [for e.g. the book of Mark] and reduces it to a few nice things about Jesus? How does Christ's life get re-duced to a "he died for your sins, believe and you go to heaven". Is this much worse than the terrorist who is told "blow your-self up and 70 virgins will be waiting for you in heaven"? Not sure if the Christians promise virgins...let's hope so!
So the Prince of Peace was foretold to bring down the haughty, the powerful and heal the poor, the blind, and the rejected! Hmm. Sounds pretty radical to me! But have you ever heard that from a church pulpit? No, no...keep politics, economics, sociology and challenges to hierarchy out of the pulpit and the platitudes of the pleasant "gospel".
One must wonder why this man of peace was murdered as a traitor and a terrorist [to the state and religious leaders]? Certainly his constant challenging of religious authorities - who represented the State: the Romans, and the authorities in Jerusalem - might play a role. While he condemned the rich, the powerful and the purveyors of the status quo, he reached out with com-passion [feel with] to those rejected by these very authorities. He "hung out with" prostitutes, the poor, the sick, women: all forbidden by the Jewish authorities. We see similar things continue in most of the world and the three "great" religions of today! Ok, most in the West think it's ok to talk to women today - but don't give them equal pay or an equal hearing when raped or abused!
So how does all this get ignored when the preacher is supposedly "sharing" the "gospel"? In most cases, s/he is the very authority that Christ challenged in his day. S/he wants those listening to conform to society, the church, to the status quo. "Don't rock the boat" "Don't challenge" "Don't think about your sins beyond lust, speeding, yelling..." - lame excuses for sin.
Why doesn't the preacher of any religion, ideology, philosophy ask if what they are doing is loving? While this is the most important command, according to biblical writers, it is not part of the preacher's gospel. If I drive to church, which pollutes my and my neighbour's air, wipes out the eco-system with highways, is the root of war [for oil, etc.], kills more children than anything...shouldn't people be told to bus, ride a bike or walk to church [or mosque, synagogue, work, base-ball games, etc.]. This is just one issue which, of course, as illustrated, is not limited to Christians nor religion - but it illustrates the abstraction of religion today. As religion reflects and sustains cult-u-r-e, we see the similar lack of real-i-t-y "check" in terms of climate change. How many are willing to get out of their cars, big houses, jet skiis, jet trips, etc.?
Lastly, isn't it ironic that the gospel, through a filter of PAC [Pick and Choose] Theology, ignores the central message of Jesus. He consistently tells people to die for others: to put others first - even when it is inconvenient and uncomfortable! Yet many preachers promise "blessings" for obedience. But they fail to obey the greatest command: love thy neighbour...and this entails "sell all your possessions and give them to the poor". This is very different from the fundamentalist neighbour who lamely says "oh it's ok to have great wealth, live in luxury and self indulgence [condemned by the writer James] - as long as you share". Compare such lies with the meme in this post!
Many issues are merely touched upon here. See other blog posts for more specific details. Let us not merely preach but LIVE the gospel: loving one another!This in-volves our entire life and society. We must look at the sins of unequal income/land distribution, hierarchy, all levels of injustice, destruction of our home: the eco-system...just to name a few!