Monday, November 14, 2005

Jesus Ain't No Ghost

Sometimes, I confuse people. And sometimes, they're confused because I'm not making sense. But other times, particularly when it comes to what I believe about Jesus vs. what I believe about politics, for me it feels like they're the ones that are confused.

Take as an example an article from, pointed out helpfully by Christianity Today's Weblog (Ted Olson's page that nearly everyone who tracks religious stories checks out regularly). "How the Christian Left Can Get It Right" purports to reclaim Jesus, and starts off doing a pretty good job. But then the author begins to drift into that vague, airy land of vacuum-packed spirituality where no one is sure about who Jesus is, much less why he's admirable. Todd Huffman, the article's author, puts Jesus into black and white:

Americans who consider themselves Christian can be generalized as thinking about Jesus in one of two distinct ways. For many, Jesus was a divine spirit who died for their personal sins. To accept him as your savior is to be saved, and the pursuit of one’s personal salvation is paramount to all other concerns. One’s personal and exclusive relationship with Jesus matters far more than his admonitions to care for the poor, the weak, and the oppressed.

For a smaller number of Americans, Jesus is believed as a peasant revolutionary who lived by example, and died for grace and compassion. To model your behavior after his is to bring heaven closer to earth. To turn away from your fellow human beings is to turn away from his teachings, and from God. This is the Jesus I believe in.
Uh, are there any other options? I mean, really! And when the author reveals he has stepped out of Christian tradition to embrace the Unitarian Church.... well, forgive my right knee, which doesn't get much exercise, from jerking just a little bit.

I am a political liberal more often than not precisely and only because I believe in a historical, real, flesh and blood Jesus who was both God and man and who did indeed come to earth to bring humankind -- one at a time -- into his kingdom family. Yes, this version of Christianity has been bastardized by an invasive, pernicious American nationalism that goes right to core of evangelical self-identity. But the way to cure the disease is not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ is either who the Bible says He was and is, or He is nada. And if he is nada, why bother with caring for one another? Build your theories, but without the singular form of Divine Love that the biblical Jesus is and gives, I for one find religious verbiage both a bore and an idiocy. Kill God and you've killed morals. That's what Neitszsche said. And I for one agree.

Or as an old song I heard once said, "Jesus ain't no ghost."

To the IRS, Some Churches May be More Equal than Others

Remember how all those gawd-haitin' organizations are out to make sure Christians can't be involved in politics by using the IRS to muzzle them? Well, if they have tried, it sure didn't work. And frankly, despite my objections to many evangelicals' political goals, I am glad it didn't work. But how about the current adminstration using the IRS to put the heat on Christians who don't toe the right -- and I do mean right -- line politically?

According to Canton, Ohio's The Repository, that's just what happened:

According to all accounts, the Rev. George Regas did not tell the congregation at All Saints Episcopal Church to vote for one candidate or the other. Instead, his sermon focused on an imaginary debate with Jesus and then-candidates John Kerry and President W. Bush. He focused on Christ’s message of pacifism and the need to care for the poor.
That was the day before the 2004 presidential election. In June 2005, All Saints found out their tax-exempt status was endangered, supposedly because they'd gone over an invisible line prohibiting non-profits from becoming involved in political campaigns.

As The Repository noted, Ohio in particular was a place where plenty of politicking from religious groups took place in 2004. But almost all of it came from the religious right, including Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition.

Yet in Ohio, it is one rather ambiguous but somewhat liberal sermon that seems to be the target of the IRS, and by extension, the current administration.

About par for the course, unfortunately.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Evangelicals Against Torture? Nope!

Well, here's something worthy of note. From comes a Cary McMullen editorial entitled "Where are Evangelicals Against Torture?" A great question, and yet another indication of just how intermeshed the worldly interests of nationalism have become with the worldly (in the worst sense) interests of christendom. Here's a snip:

For an unequivocal condemnation of torture, it's hard to beat the late John Paul II, who said in his encyclical "Veritatis Splendor" that it can never be justified, no matter what the reason. The pope placed it on the moral level of abortion and euthanasia. U.S. bishops have followed that lead. Who does that leave? Evangelical Christians. I've done a couple of Google searches, plus a search of the excellent Christianity Today Web log, and I can't find one statement by any evangelical leader or organization condemning the use of harsh techniques by American forces. Where are the voices -- so otherwise outspoken on policy matters -- from the National Association of Evangelicals, from the Family Research Council, from the Southern Baptist Convention?

It gets worse. One thing that did turn up in Christianity Today was a portion of an article last year by Tony Carnes that found evangelical complicity among both administration and military personnel justifying the kind of treatment uncovered at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

Of course, Mr. McMullen must not read BlueChristian, or realize our vast influence over evangelicalism worldwide! (Ha!) At any rate, make sure and read the whole thing. Then get to writing your evangelical leaders, denominations, and media voices.

Where ya been?

Sorry about that. In between weddings (my son's) and marathons (see TeamCCO's website), followed by an illness and a reaction to antibiotics that was even worse than the illness was, I've been struggling to get anything written.

On the up side, we did launch the Cornerstone Festival forums, which has one large section I moderate ("Seminars"). We also completed another Cornerstone Community Outreach newsletter, which gets the news out on our shelters for homeless women and children as well as encouraging volunteers and donations.

So all that is good...

But I've missed a lot here I should have posted on. Oh, well... I'll try to do better.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

FORUM on Cornerstone Festival site for political discussion

Cornerstone Festival (with which I am affiliated) now has a live forum section. Select the Seminars forum for a listing of various sections, all of which deal somewhat with political and global justice discussions on a number of levels.

You will need to join the forum community in order to post. Since this just lifted off November 1 2005, we don't have a lot of members yet. Be one of the first.