Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Amen to Margaret Renkl and NYTimes Letter Writer

 Margaret Renkl, Catholic and contributor to the NYT op-ed page: 

A letter to the Editor in the NYTimes in response to Renkl's Op-Ed piece:

 In the world of apostolic betrayals, it’s Judas who gets the headlines, but the everyday believer is more apt to fall in line behind Peter. Coldly handing Jesus over to his death in exchange for 30 pieces of silver was an over-the-top, cartoon-level move, but Peter’s terrified denial of the man he believed to be the savior of the world? That one seems immensely human to me. 

I have a lot of sympathy for Peter these days. Here it is nearly Easter, and for the first time in my life I don’t want anyone to know I’m a believer. To many, "Christian" has become synonymous with angry white voters in red hats…. 

 By any conceivable definition, the sitting president of the United States is the utter antithesis of Christian values — a misogynist who disdains refugees, persecutes immigrants, condones torture and is energetically working to dismantle the safety net that protects our most vulnerable neighbors. Watching Christians put him in the White House has completely broken my heart. Were I a true Christian, I would, with no little mortification, tell these red-hatted Christians what they could do with their heartbreaking Christianity. 

Organized religion has always been tainted by Molièrelike hypocrisy. We get enough of that in soulless politics; no need to add more of it to what should be — to what is advertised as — a soulful experience. 

The utter shabbiness of that claim has forever been exposed in hateful, Christianity-endorsed Trumpism. Thus were I a true Christian, I'd go by "Jesusian" or some such alternative religious identification. 

For much like Margaret Renkl, I wouldn't want anyone to suspect I'm a believer in the brazenly hypocritical rot of Trumpian Christianity.


Dave Miller said...

Both the original article and the response give me hope.

The article speaks of the passage where Jesus says "whatsoever you did to the least of these, you've done to me." That has always been a searing passage to me, burning deep the desire to serve.

We don't have to agree on all the policies, but we should agree on a level of civility, especially those claiming Christ, that can transcend the rancor we see now. I was at a church recently where the pastor spoke on immigration. He took no stand, instead calling on people to treat the "alien" or "immigrant" here with respect... as the bible teaches. Incredulously, some in attendance were angry with him because they did not agree. They did not want "law breakers" treated with compassion. They wanted vengeance.

That is the Christianity Renkl speaks of in her article.

And it is a false Christianity, holding none of the values Jesus modeled in his life.

Thanks Shaw for posting this, more so today, the day we remember that selling of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and the betrayal of him by Peter, the "Rock" of the church.

Jerry Critter said...

Fundamentalism, Christian or otherwise, depends on people who are willing to believe what they are told without proof or thinking.

Les Carpenter said...

Which is why I accept spirituality without the chains of religion. Spirituality has many faces and does not need religion.

Ducky's here said...

Today the queen bee of the mother ship posted something that seems to reflect right wing Christianity.

"the whole world seems like it’s in a mess and I feel SO GOOD that our army dropped that bomb and is sending SUCH a message!"

The Christian right wing acts of mercy.

Flying Junior said...

I agree with both comments. I'm just taking a new tack.

God knows most of us are hypocrites. My favorite right-wing pastor, (thank God we are not together today,) told us how seekers often describe Christians as hypocrites. He said, "That's right. We are all hypocrites. But we still do our best to follow the teachings of Christ. There is plenty of room if you would like to join us."

If you can allow me to generalize, and if you don't particularly disagree with this thought. Most churches in the 1960s and 1970s were only subtly political. In California, the Presbyterian Church had quite a reputation for adopting left-wing or socialist causes. We were jokingly called "commies." The Southern Baptist church was, of course, well-known for antiquated, indefensible positions on such issues as women's rights, homosexuality and the right of women to assume positions of authority and leadership in the church. One could easily avoid either of these two extremes by simply picking the best fit for you in the town where you lived.

Growing up in a Presbyterian setting, politics didn't seem to matter very much in relation to the important work of teaching the young and caring for the poor and disenfranchised. There were churches that were alive with the spirit and churches that were bogged down in repetitious ritual or even dying. The greatest fear for most churches was an aging demographic and, heaven forbid, being forced to close one's doors due to lack of attendance and giving.

While this remained the basic dynamic in Southern California for the most part, churches in conservative states were overflowing to the surrounding streets and suburbs with the family-packed sedans of happy worshippers. Congregations into the low thousands funded enormous sanctuaries, huge, expensive organs and sound systems to rival the finest concert halls in the U.S.

I don't think that "liberal" churches will ever catch up in numbers to the hardcore right-wing churches. But I am glad that we still exist and thrive.

You see, I worked at a Baptist church from 1990-2006. The best on-the-job-training I ever had in my entire life. I even had my own choir and at other times played and sang in an up-to-date praise band.

We really didn't mention politics much at all, until the church-stealers from Arizona came in to stir up the hornet's nest. I had no idea that all of my friends hated the Clintons. It just never came up. Long story short, I got out just in the nick of time, only simultaneously realizing the danger I was in. Can you imagine if I was still the organist when Obama was elected? Nightmare on Main Street.

I am happy at a fairly left-leaning church. We only lean left because it's closer to what Jesus taught. I consider myself extremely blessed. When Trump was elected, we actually lost a half a dozen Trump supporters who could decode the anti-Trump message that we were putting out.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. I just wish I could go back and ask my conservative friends just how it is that they can stomach Trump? I mean Clinton had to go to church several Sundays in a row. He had Billy Graham himself counseling him. He had to repent, fer Chrissakes!

What did Trump do? Meet one half of an hour with some right-wing televangelist and he was okay? Fully vetted?

Maybe the entire free world would benefit if he could just stick around Washington and attend a bible study once a week.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"We don't have to agree on all the policies, but we should agree on a level of civility, especially those claiming Christ, that can transcend the rancor we see now."

S.K.: "Those people I call "fake" Christians will not embrace what you say we can all agree on. Their religion does not inform their politics. In fact, it is exactly the reverse with those people: Their politics inform their religion, and it has nothing to do with what their Savior taught. They like to pat themselves on their Holier-Than-Thou backs and claim and pretend to a religion they do not practice. They are no more "Christian" than Judas was a good friend of Jesus.

Jerry, Fundamentalism in religion also always keeps women in second-class status and in many instances keeps women in some sort of costume that covers their "sinful" bodies.

RN USA, Look to the M.E. and understand what a mess fundamental religion often makes of the world.

Ducky's here, That crowd is the same crowd that questioned President Obama's Christianity, claiming he was a "secret Moslem." They're the fake Christians who call Muslims "vermin," and Democrats "libtard" who need to be wiped off of the face of the Earth. When certain Muslims in the M.E. said that about Israel, those fake Christians were incensed, but saying that about "Moslems" and "libtards," is very "Christian" and "loving." It is also a part of their self-delusion that allows them to think of themselves as decent human beings.

F.J., Thanks for sharing that wonderful story. I've said many times over the past two years, while Trump was campaigning for the presidency, that the mega-church "Christians" were perfectly willing to accept Trump as a bona fide fellow religionist, even though they know he's no such thing. Those same people denigrated Barack Obama's faith. They've shown us the "value" of their so-called religious beliefs and how morally vacant they are.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Ducky, Here's a report I saw in "The Nation" that will have the Mother Ship and its passengers "praising the Lord:"

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Implicated in Murder

Sworn statements filed in Federal Court allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a “crusade” to eliminate Muslims and Islam.
By Jeremy Scahill

Shaw Kenawe said...

Here's more on the report on Betsy De Vos's brother, Eric Prince:

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”:

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”

This ought to thrill the Mother Ship passengers who call for the total elimination of all "Moslem vermin." In fact, they'd probably volunteer to do some of the killing of Iraqis and other "MOslem vermin" themselves. What could be more Christ-like than wiping out 1.2 billion people?

Infidel753 said...

Flying Junior: What did Trump do? Meet one half of an hour with some right-wing televangelist and he was okay? Fully vetted?

I think evangelicals (like most of us, actually) are more concerned with what a politician does in office than with his personal life. So long as Trump promotes discrimination against gays and attacks women's right to choose abortion, they don't care about his personal morality or behavior. It's more important that he's pushing society in the direction they want it to go.

Based on this, I'd actually more expect them to reject Trump on the basis of his attacks on programs that help poor people, but such issues don't even seem to be on their mental radar.

Infidel753 said...

that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe"

Don't forget that the Old Testament is just as much part of the Christian Bible as the New, and the Old Testament contains several cases of God himself ordering the extermination of nations or groups who had the "wrong" religion. God, as they always tell us, doesn't change. There's nothing un-Biblical about what Prince is described as doing here. True, there are other parts of the Bible that have a contradictory message, bu that's true of pretty much everything in it.

See why I worry about these people?

Anonymous said...

The men and women who separated from England and founded America were smart to leave God and gods out of the U.S. Constitution. The current far right Christians are doing all they can to change that and to impose their version of Christianity on everyone. They would do a abetter job of attracting more people to their religion if they truly acted like they are commanded to by the god they believe in.

Howard Brazee said...

It didn't start with Trump. Trump just makes the values of the Big Money "Christian" Right more obvious. The values of people such as Pat Robertson have been apparent for a long time, and they are opposite of the values the Bible shows Jesus Christ to have.