I've been out of town and/or on vacation all week. I got back Wednesday but with my political and blog hobbies, vacation for this chic meant that I had to stay away from the computer, the phone, the radio, all reading materials and the teevee for the remainder of the week. I cheated a little bit Friday and a smidge yesterday, but mostly I've been incommunicado aaaaall week.
And let me tell you ... it’s been GREAT!!
My s.o. took me to Blowing Rock & Grandfather Mtn. for my birthday. We spent the time dragging our old, out-of-shape 747 wide bodies all over the place hiking and looking and "wow"-ing. Thank God for ice cold mountain streams! Otherwise my feet would have failed me early into the second day. We got home Wednesday but since Thursday I've been piddling in the yard, baking, planting spring veggies, exploring local organic farms (on-line) and doing su doku. Lots of su doku. 8^}
And now I've ruined myself. Tomorrow is Monday and I do NOT want to go back to work. I didn't even go to political meetings I could have gotten to last week. This is what heaven will be like, I just know it ... su doku, good books and piddling in a garden all day. ;)
But today ... I'm getting back to it.
I'll do some laundry, catch up on my 300 emails, go to my folks' house for dinner, figure out my schedule for this week and get back into the crazy A.D.D. life I've patched together for myself.
I'm applying for a position on a town policy/planning board. Don't know if I'll get on one but, if I do it should be fun and educational -- in a curious sort of way. This is really a great town and wonderful place to live. :)
So ... here's a link to a very interesting article I think some folks will like. Or not. Y'all will please be sure to let me know. ;) I’m linking and not quoting because the article deserves a full read and I could never do it justice by summarizing. It’s a good, balanced, fair, honest look at America's founding, something we desperately need and get way too little of in our lives. It was linked from a post at Political Cortex.
The article also got me thinking. By the length of this post, way too much.
Honest American History is taught less and less in all sorts of schools these days, public and private, and the result is that too many people are gullible to common liars and charlatans who come dressed as leaders, priests and prophets. They twist and tell outright lies about who our founders were, what they believed, where and how they were educated and where they got their ideas for establishing a democratic republic on these once Colonial shores. NONE of that stuff came from Christianity, the Institution.
Our national ideals of "civil tolerance", "justice for all" and a rejection of "cruel and unusual punishment" (all of which the current culture of Rightwing 'Christianity' seems to dispute) may indeed come from the teachings of Jesus, but NOT the structure of our government. I would submit that the structures of our governmental systems were drawn primarily from classical (pre-Christian) Greek and Roman ideas and models. So does the author of the article I linked at Public Eye.
Additionally, our culture may indeed be predominantly Judeo-Christian, but our laws and government structures are, without doubt, pre-Christian Greco/Roman. That's the reason I'm such a pain in the ass with my friends about history, stupid forwarded emails, and issues of God in our pledge, our anthems, our courthouses and our schools. It’s also probably why preachers have often preferred that I not show up for adult Sunday school. And it is unfortunately why I stopped going to Bible Study and cannot tolerate regular church attendance anywhere I've yet found in my home county. I do not buy and will not be quiet about historical lies told to innocent people, primarily my children, who can't know they're being led down a garden path.
As the linked article asserts, the U.S. Constitution and the American legal system came NOT from the Ten Commandments but from a radically LIBERAL interpretation of 18th century British Law, which had been going through a post-Feudal revival for two hundred years, taking more and more ideas from pre-feudal Roman law. Our Founders simply blew the box wide open and totally rejected all notions of inherited or divine Royal or Aristocratic privilege within the legal system. They reasoned that a man should be able to gain for himself some small privileges of reputation and stature, but only by merit through work and ability, NEVER through inheritance. They also reasoned that one man gaining respect and stature did not necessitate the removal of the same from another man. In other words, all Men were created equal. All men were endowed with certain inalienable Rights; Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. (Heard that somewhere, I know.) Happiness is defined by each man or woman for herself. It is not defined by others for her. Therefore, all people from all walks deserve all opportunity for happiness that can reasonably be provided in a civil society.
Watching a person in power lie about something when I know they've read enough real history to know better (e.g., Robertson, Rushdooney, F. Graham, etc.) used to confuse me when I was younger. Now it just makes me red-eared-tingly-scalped pissed as hell rant-i-licious.
It is truly disgusting when radical preachers and leaders claim falsehoods as truths when they speak about the Constitution and our nation's history. Their outright lies about American history tell me all I need to know about them; namely that they are quite comfortable telling lies and they are likewise quite comfortable tolerating liars IF their tolerance can buy them a few demands met in exchange:
1) Re-criminalize abortion and homosexuality,
2) Boundless money to church accounts (preferably through Federal Government grants),
3) Endlessly tax-free income from media and publishing
businesses, errrrr ministries.
The current Radical Rightwing of the GOP (which claims to be Christian) truly believes the ends justify any means. Some of them are a little cool to W at the moment. But that has little to do with the Administrations lying cheating bribing scheming manipulating and general all ‘round corruption-ing. Mark my word, if this administration managed to get all of the above things done the 'Christian' leaders in the Radical Rightwing would fall in love with the GOP and this administration all over again, regardless. They would close their mouths about lies, bribes, retribution or un-American ideas and goals of George W. Bush, Rush Limpbaugh, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, little Patty McHenry, Sean Hannity, Sue Myrick, Virginia Foxx, Ann Coulter, Sam Brownback, Bill O'Reilly, Alberto Gonzales, Art Pope and Fred Smith, etc. and they would start raising money for Republican
candidates PACs once again.
In my opinion, these people's first loyalty is not to this nation, this state, her people, or our Constitution. They are loyal to the goals of their benefactors -- be they church based or money based. The GOP's power now comes from a very weird unholy Frankenstein-like mix of billionaires, business moguls and radical affiliated 'Christian' groups who seek power over our civil government -- and that is all.
Now, when you ask any Christian about their loyalties they will deftly recite, "God, family, country, in that order." That’s fine. I'd actually say that's appropriate. But the radical Rightwing politicos aren’t just Christian folk. They are Christians who want to run your government. What you cannot know and what they may not even be willing to admit to themselves is that "god" in that priority list (which they have been taught to recite since Daddy got saved) means "My Church and its doctrine", not God.
So let's review:
It is my personal assertion that the loyalties of the radical Rightwing of the Republican Party are:
first - My Church and It's doctrine,
second - My own family,
third (LAST!!) - The Constitution of the United States of America and all it stands for.
The greedy billionaire patrons who employ those who promote this nationalist 'Christianity', publish their crap, and otherwise pay their way are shredding our Constitution as we speak; they have lied us into a stupid war and want nothing more than to keep us "at war" because their companies make more money when we're at war than when we're at peace; they've doubled our war-making capability, essentially beating our plowshares into swords, which I'm sure makes Jesus REAL happy; they've cheated all Americans out of our birthright as "free in our persons, property and papers", and they have stolen OUR tax money right out of the U.S. Treasury for the entire six years -- and longer -- of this Administration's tenure.
It is useful here to note an interesting phenomenon within the current radical rightwing Christian movement. The righteously macho "fighting martyr" mentality of a Church under harsh persecution -- which is precisely the self-image religious leaders of all stripes from all centuries sell their followers to make radicals of them (see Bill O’Reilly, Americas latest angry culture martyr) -- brings in a lot of men who just do not get the "seventy-times-seven" forgiveness, agape, grace, mercy and "turn the other cheek" teachings of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately for the Church, that is about 99.999% of what Jesus taught.
Well, sometime in the 60's or 70's the men who wanted to grow the church's money figured this out. They realized that they were going to have to play down the kind, meek, tolerant, merciful, cheek-turning, cloak-giving, for-giving, poor, least-of-these-my-brethren part of Christianity if they wanted to reach powerful men with resources ... and money ... to give.
Yes indeed, though they claim that "real men love Jesus", in truth these guys know that "real men" love Joseph, Moses, David, John and the Apostle Paul a whole lot more than they liked that Jesus guy.
Honestly, who the hell gives a thief their shirt after they've had their cloak stolen? pfft. A wimp, that's who.
What REAL MAN is content to NOT aspire to and chase after wealth ... and a bigger flat screen tv? Are you kiddin' me? A girly man, that's who!
The only Jesus they really like is the one that got mad and turned over tables in the Temple one day. They forget or ignore that He turned over those tables and attacked the small business people selling stuff in the Temple that day because they were making a handsome profit on the backs of poor ignorant people by selling doves to worshippers who only knew they were supposed to offer some kind of animal for sacrifice if they wanted forgiveness from God. They were selling God's favor at an enormous profit. They were selling that which was not theirs to sell. They were thieves.
Here is where you stop reading and draw parallels in your own mind between this Biblical story and the notion of 'Prosperity' churches. If you don't have that experience, let me relate a few things I've learned about Prosperity church teaching through the years.
My father once related a story to me that I'll share with y'all.
Back in the 70's he was once told by a loud, roundish, self-described Christian businessman, who happened to actually be one of the early Amway Titans, that he (my father) was not a real man because he didn't want to become an Amway distributor so he could get wealthy, provide more stuff for his family, give more money to the church and retire early.
Furthermore, there was a secret to the wealth. You were told you had to accept Christ and submit yourself to God's will to get the wealth. Of course, they didn't know that. It’s just what they said. Of course, submitting to God's will meant also submitting to the Amway guy's tutelage (because that was assumed to be God's will) and from that point on living eating breathing drinking sleeping and washing with Amway products and other Amway distributors (because that was assumed to be God's will), but those are small details. Yes, they are disturbing details, but they are small. The point is, this man was claiming, with confidence and a straight face, that he possessed God's favor to sell ... at a profit to himself, of course, else why run all over the Southeastern United States for twenty years promoting the pyramid plan in the first place, right?
But, God's favor was not his to sell. (See Biblical Temple story above.) I pray for his soul.
Prosperity preachers (and Amway guys) still use those marketing tactics, the selling of God's favor. I know this. I go back to their churches now and then. I actually attended an Amway convention in the 90's. The Sunday meeting was a good old fashioned Come to Jesus Alter Call, and ‘the secret’ was whispered into my left ear.
Bells and whistles blare:
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!
::: shakes head as the otherworldly memory fades out :::
Nope, if Church leaders wanted to reach the money men, that whole camel, needle, wealthy man anecdote Jesus told would have to GO -- or be severely reinterpreted.
As you can see from the above recounting, somebody figured out the reinterpretation. You should ask about that some day if you get the chance just to hear the dance done by Prosperity churches to get around Jesus' tricky little needle-threading hazard. Of course the apology boils down to, “Well, that’s not what He meant.”
But their work was not done. They would also have to start playing up the rough and tough, live off your wits, take no shit, push back when pushed, invade and conquer Old Testament side of things, ignoring any moderating teachings of the Torah or Jewish tradition. This was how they would make Christianity appealing to more men, but especially to the Captains of Industry. It worked, to an extent. At least they attracted a lot of ambitious exterminators, lawyers, doctors and businessmen. And those incomes really did boost those tough talking evangelical Church budgets once they found the keystone ... the Gospel of Prosperity ... the financial plan that instructed the follower to turn over at least 10% of their incomes to the church collection plate so God would bless them. If they wanted something out of the ordinary, like a nice vacation or a new boat or something they’d have to give more next week. No. shit.
That always seemed odd to me, having read only the Gospels as a child, that God required money in order to dispense blessings upon people. As odd as that was it got worse as the ‘Ministries’ grew and multiplied. As a kid, "Life, More Abundantly" and "Abundant Life" were phrases I heard all over the place. It came from the PTL club, the 700Club, the preachers we went to hear, the concerts we attended, everywhere. These were veiled calls to give more. You see, one was to tithe faithfully if one was content to just be happy. But, in order to prosper and gain wealth, now the teaching was that you actually had to give a little more than that. Inflation, I guess. And all red-blooded true Americans want to prosper, right?
This whole shift occurred from the mid 70’s to the late 80’s. You get the picture? This was the birthing of the Gollum that is the Radical Religious Rightwing of the Republican Party. In this man made monster a Christian’s obligation to support the work of God was melded to the greed inherent in seeking wealth by the teaching of the Gospel of Prosperity in big evangelical mega-churches.
And then there was the killing of the Unions and the vilifying of the poor and the sanctifying of inherited wealth.
And then we got Fox News.
Natural progression, if you ask me.
In my mind, Prosperity teaching in church is just code for "You, too, can bribe God and get rich." These people claim to possess for sale that which is not theirs to sell. Some have paid a price for that offense. Some continue to sell. No matter. They are all still the same as they were when Jesus got mad back in the day and cleared the Temple.
Going back and thinking about this Prosperity (divine bribery) phenomenon, I wonder now if this is why so many self-described 'Committed Christians' in politics have so few internal ethical objections to bribery and the taking of bribes by public officials; Unless of course the bribe getter is a Democrat. Republicans are supposed to be allowed a bribe (or three hundred) in office. Democrats go to prison for it. Because, well, Democrats are all Liberals of course, and Liberals are ungodly so they don’t get to take bribes. That's what the whole business with all the U.S. Attorney's getting fired in December was, no?
I know it sounds absurd but when Karl Rove is involved, the absurd becomes the acceptable. As Voltaire (I think) once advised,
“One who can make you accept absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
By the way, has anyone checked the computers and offices of North Carolina's U.S. Attorney corps for pressuring emails from GOP Senators, Representatives, and/or Party leaders last election cycle? I’m just curious, the timing of everything being so sweet for the GOP.
But I digress.
In the end, unfortunately (again) for some Churches, all the self-serving chest-puffing tough-talking money and wealth stuff ain't even close to what Jesus said a Christian was supposed to be about.
As a result, what we see coming from politicians who climb into political office by climbing into church pulpit after church pulpit, claiming the name of Jesus but none of His characteristics, and rejecting His teachings altogether, (i.e., Republican zealots) is not goodness or justice or grace or charity or honesty or decency. It is just a big, bumbling, destructive, confused, self-congratulatory, self-serving, wooden hearted, empty headed clanging bell.
It is the opposite of Christ-like.
Do I really have to write the word?
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