Shame On Us…….

postchristian1April 15, 2013 — The rise of the so-called “Nones”—the increasing percentage of adults who claim no religious affiliation—has been a much-discussed trend in American religion. Is the nation moving away from Christianity and other forms of conventional faith?

To provide insight on this topic, Barna Group analyzed 42,855 interviews conducted in recent years, looking at 15 different measures of non-religiosity. In other words, the research explores the emerging post-Christian landscape of the nation.

The above words are from an email I recently received from the Barna Organization.  For those of you who might not know Barna is a Christian oriented research/polling organization. The trend away from Christian religious denominations is getting almost to be a panic with them. They are now researching and reporting on the top ten Christian cities and the bottom ten. I debated whether to put this post on this blog or my other one that addresses spiritual stuff. For some reason, maybe because this blog gets more attention, I decided to post it here.

This trend has been going on for some time now. Long enough to have been given its own moniker “Post-Christian”. Anyone who has been reading my blog over at RedLetterLiving knows that I have been reporting about this trend for some time now. To me most Christian denominations are “shooting themselves in the foot” so to speak. We have splintered into 39,000 different versions of Christ’s church. Could that be one of the causes for us becoming a post-Christian society? As fractured as we are there is just no credibility anymore.

It is utterly a shame that the messages of Jesus Christ have always been lost on younger generations to one degree or another but now the trend is also moving to those who are older. They are just not coming back to the church as they have in the past.  This trend is very likely to increase until the church either implodes or comes to its senses regarding its message. When we say “come to us as we are the only ones who have it right” most can see through this veil of hypocrisy.

One of my favorite boat-rocking followers of Jesus is Shane Claiborne. Check him and his books out on Amazon or Wikipedia if you are not familiar with him. Shane seldom minces words and here is what he says about the church losing it younger generations:

I remember asking in disappointment, “What happened, bro? What went wrong?” He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I got bored.” Bored? God forgive us for all those we have lost because we made the gospel boring. I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it’s because we don’t dare them, not because we don’t entertain them. It’s because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. Kids want to do something heroic with their lives, which is why they play video games and join the army. But what are they to do with a church that teaches them to tiptoe through life so they can arrive safely at death?

Claiborne, Shane (2008-09-09). The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical (Kindle Locations 2024-2032). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

The statistics show that not only are we losing the younger generations but all generations are starting to fall away in numbers never seen before. If the church hopes to survive this proclaimed “post-Christian” period they must move outside of the ultra conservative political realm and address the troubles of the world today.   It needs to get out in the world more instead of hunkering down in their often lavish cathedrals waiting for the end-times.

But I am just a simple guy who happens to be an avid follower of Jesus but not particularly religious right now so what do I know….

Jefferson And The Gospels….

This is a continuation of our study of Thomas Jefferson to discount the belief that he intended the United States to be a Christian nation. He started out and spent much of his life as a deist. That is he believed in the presence of God in the world but did not proclaim it as a Christian presence. Later in life after he was president he undertook a serious study of the Christian Bible and other religious documents.

He took this study to the point of making his own version of the New Testament. Many are confused by the Jefferson Bible. They wonder why he as a faithful Christian would even attempt to redo such a holy document. Below is part of the explanation why he did this:

JeffersonThe whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.  —Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814.

Jefferson was a person who took things seriously when he decided to get involved in something. He spent many months studying Scriptures and current church doctrine before he came to the above conclusions.  It is no small statement to say that his words above go very counter to many versions of current day Christianity. But it turns out that two hundred years later there is a large and growing group of Christians called Emergents that are coming to much the same conclusion that he did.

The emergent movement, like Jefferson, proclaims that scriptures are very valuable part of Christianity but are not God breathed or without man’s fingerprints.  These words above are very typical of Jefferson, he did not parse words when it come to disagreements with man-made beliefs or institutions.

Jefferson sincerely embraced the “diamond” parts bible as being truly inspiring writing by extraordinary men but as he said other parts were “dung”.

Being Told What To Believe……

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JeffersonThis is a continuation of my mini-project to strike down some of the myths around Thomas Jefferson. The myth at hand is that he intended the United States to be a Christian nation.  If anything can clear up the misconceptions of Jeffersonian history, it must come best from the author himself.  Here are some of his words about things religious:

About Heresy Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

Anyone who has visited my other blog at know that I believe the heresy and the resulting Christian church divisions over beliefs is one of the major reasons that there are over 39,000 versions of Christianity around today. The history of the church abounds with the things that Jefferson mentioned here. It was somewhat surprising to me that people so many years ago realized the same thing I have just recently discovered.  Jefferson was astounded by the fact that Christians just couldn’t seem to get along even in his day.

Most think that heresy and such are relegated to earlier times but history has shown us that people in several of the thirteen colonies were killed because of  their beliefs This fact did not escape Jefferson’s attention. I want to step back a little and tell you that Jefferson, like so many of the founding fathers including Washington, was for most of his life a deist. That is he believed that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God. He rejected the idea of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge. In other words he like our current Quaker brothers was creed adverse. Here is another quote from him about that.


I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789

In other words Jefferson believed that it is up to each of us to think for ourselves and not have others to tell us what to believe. Again this is a stand that I took very early in my life and in my studies of the church. When we allow others to think for us and then insist they we pledge to a creed of their beliefs it is the “last degradation” of being a moral agent. Pretty strong words for one of the fathers of our country.

This post is primarily about Jefferson’s ambivalence toward being told what to believe.  As we can see from history since his time being told what to believe has gotten mankind in all kinds of troubles….

Happy Holidays….


Being a Christian I was taught to be very much offended when I ran across the words “Happy Holidays” as that somehow diminished the real meaning of the season. But after I came across a blog post recently I have changed my opinion on those words. I wish I had kept the explanation as I’m sure the original author explained it much better then I can but since I can no longer find it I will have to do the best I can in justifying his idea.

Read more

And Its All Small Stuff…..

This is a post that I have carried over from my other blog at RedLetterLiving. It is about an epiphany I had several years ago about my spiritual beliefs. I wanted to share it with my readers here.

Posted on October 22, 2012 at

In 1997 Richard Carlson wrote a very popular book entitled Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…. and it’s all small stuff. In that book he listed one hundred things to make our lives more peaceful. Some of those topics that I took to heart included: Read more

Ayn Rand – Mr. Ryans Hero….

Source: Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them | Alternet.

Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping “moral philosophy” that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

Her books provided wide-ranging parables of “parasites,” “looters” and “moochers” using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes’ labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O’Connor (her husband was Frank O’Connor). As Michael Ford of Xavier University’s Center for the Study of the American Dream wrote, “In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest.”

This is an ongoing study of the new vice presidential candidate in the Republican party. It is well-known that Mr. Ryan, like several others in his party, is a huge fan of Ayn Rand. He says when his loses his focus he picks up her books to rejuvenate his path in life.  So, I wanted to learn a little more about his hero. I knew from hearing about her in college in the 60’s that she was a radical and an enthusiastic McCarthy supporter. But what I have learned about her since is even more telling.

One of her most famous quotes is:

Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. – Ayn Rand

I don’t know if, being an avowed atheist, she was mocking Christ who basically said the opposite or just what were the circumstances of this quote but I just can’t put a benevolent spin on it in any circumstance .

A final quote I want to present of Ms. Rand is her beliefs about altruism. For those of you who might not know what an altruist is the definition is  person unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others. Here is the quote:

If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.

I know Ayn Rand is also a hero of an elder in the Lutheran church where I was a member a few years ago.  He prided himself in his beliefs that he got from her that there are two types of people in this world  “makers” and “takers”. The makers produce things and the takers are just a drain our society. He included everyone in government service as a “taker”. His philosophy, which seemed to be agreed upon by several others there, was one of the reasons I decided to not challenge my expulsion from that congregation due to theological differences (I think the earth is more than six thousand years old and  the Bible contains stories that are not always literal and without error).

Ayn Rand seems to almost be the anti-thesis of Jesus Christ who she loathed so much. It seems totally ironic to now see Ms. Rand as a hero of the political party who deems themselves to be so Christian. How can this be?

So, here I am looking for reasons why a very good clergy friend of mine from the past has such a high regard to Mr. Ryan. Could my friend be one of those one-issue voters? Paul Ryan is very consistent in his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Could that be the sole reason for my friend’s endorsement?  I hope not….

It’s Hard To Make a Fine Wine When All You Have Is Sour Grapes….

The title of this post came to me as I was recently reading the book Falling Upward by Richard Bohr.  In this book the author says each of us has two distinct parts of our lives. The first is making the container and the second is filling it with what we were meant to do.  Although I don’t necessarily agree with some parts of this book the thought of having two distinctive parts of your life is thought-provoking for me. It just makes sense.

How much of your life you spend building the container and how much filling it with what you are meant to be varies with each of us. Some probably spend most if not all making the container and then have no time to actually fill it.  While others build their container very early in life and then have more time to do what they were meant to do.

I personally believe that I am probably one of the first group. I grappled with who I was (i.e. my container) for many years. I just couldn’t decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I mean I was in my fifties and still asking that question. I just couldn’t decide the shape of my container.  It wasn’t until I managed to get free from the corporate world that my container really started to take shape. So here I am in the later part of my life finally filling my container. My container was always meant to be filled with compassion for my fellow-man.  I discovered that I am an altruist to my heart. I just didn’t realize that for so many years. I spent so many fruitless years building what others told me my container would be. I never really looked into my heart to discover my true container’s shape.

That brings me back to the title of this post. It seems that there are so many people today who have filled their container with nothing but sour grapes. Their purpose seems to be making sure that no one  gets anything they haven’t worked for or somehow don’t deserve.  Our current political process seems to be overrun with these types of containers.

I find that fact so bitterly ironic because many of the sour grape people adamantly claim that we are a Christian nation. Everyone who has studied even the slightest levels of theology know that one of Christianity’s foundations is that Jesus died for our sins so that we can go to heaven. Our dogma tells us that we absolutely don’t deserve what he did but he did it out of the love for us.  So these sour grape folks are basing their eternity on unearned grace while denying those around them of their own personal grace.  This totally confuses me. How can they possibly reconcile the two attitudes????

Being Broad Minded….

Nothing makes a man broad-minded like adversity  –  Will Rogers

I can certainly understand this quote from Will. The adversity in my life, although coming more frequently than I would like, has certainly made me more broad-minded. Coming from humble beginning has made me sensitive to the daily plight of the homeless and financially challenged around me. Going deaf in mid-life has made me more aware of the challenges others face with handicaps every day. Being asked to leave a church because I didn’t have the “right” beliefs has made me aware of all those who are gun-shy about anything spiritual.

I’m pretty sure my personal warranty expired when I turned sixty. Since then more and more of my body has become worn out so I sympathize with those who have it even worse off than I do. For these reason I have progressed from a young conservative to a socially progressive liberal. In other words I have matured as I have aged. I am also a follower of Jesus Christ and by following his examples I have tried to have love for the orphans, the widows, the homeless,  and even those brought down my stresses of the day that resulted in various addictions. Yes, they might have brought their problems upon themselves but haven’t we all screwed up once in a while and don’t we all deserve love? Jesus was my example; he loved the loveless!

I readily admit that I am now a “bleeding heart do-gooder” that many of my conservative friends seem to despise so much. Where they rail against providing healthcare for all I dream of the day when that is a reality. Where they rant about people getting something for nothing I  take Jesus’ words to heart giving without question for the “least of these”.  Where they fear those among us who have gotten themselves in one form of trouble or another I try to cautiously reach out to them as well.

Like Will says my adversity has made me broad-minded. Those who have been given everything in life need to get a taste of real adversity to realize just how just much they have. They need to quit complaining about not having the latest (you name it)  and start showing some compassion for those who have much less than they do.  They need to realize that although they pretty much eat whatever and whenever they want there are those that struggle to put even one meal a day in their family’s stomach.

For those fortunate enough to have discretionary money they need to be willing to fork over a little of that money  in taxes for those who are not as fortunate at they are. They need to realize that the Bible saying that “it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” is not so much about riches as it is about being broad-minded and compassionate for their fellow human beings..

But what do I know.

Outrageous Things

Old age is an excellent time for outrage. My goal is to say or do at least one outrageous thing every week  – Maggie Kuhn

I guess I am old at least as far as this saying goes. But it does seem as though when you get some years under your belt you have seen more of this world that warrants getting outraged about. Let’s face it most of us have seen some pretty stupid things in our lives.  We let our government spend our tax dollars for some pretty dreadful things like our obese military establishment while denying healthcare to many of our citizens and say nothing about it!

We, like Maggie Kuhn before us, should all be saying outrageous things when in comes to much of what is wrong with our society today and that includes our religious establishments.  We Christians claim to love God but then go on to totally ignore his very direct commands to love our neighbors. We would rather fixate on someone’s sex lives than concentrate on giving the poor kid down the block  a nourishing meal once in a while.  We would rather spend our church money building lavish clubhouses for ourselves rather than get out in the community and help those less fortunate than us and yes there are less fortunate are around any church in America. This I find outrageous and worth shouting about.

We all seem to praise our war makers and totally ignore our peacemakers. We do some pretty outrageous things in the name of patriotism. So yes I do believe that old age is an excellent time for outrage. I seem to have plenty of it lately and don’t mind spouting it off at least once every week.

About the Author: Maggie Kuhn was born in 1905 in Buffalo New York. I remember her best as being the founder of the Grey Panthers. She is one of my heroes. Here is what Wikipedia says about her Maggie Kuhn (August 3, 1905 – April 22, 1995) was an American activist known for founding the Gray Panthers movement in August 1970, after being forced into retirement by the Presbyterian Church. The Gray Panthers became known for advocating nursing home reform and fighting ageism, claiming that “old people and women constitute America’s biggest untapped and undervalued human energy source.” She also dedicated her life to fighting for human rights, social and economic justice, global peace, integration, and an understanding of mental health issues. For decades she combined her activism with caring for her disabled mother and a brother who suffered from mental illness.

What Is An Altruist??

I am going to put on my teacher’s hat now.  Although I have never been an official teacher I have taught at several seminars in both the professional arena and the religious arena. So here is a lesson about altruism.

On the right side of my blog I proudly proclaim that I am a passionate altruist. But what does that really mean? As usual there are varying definitions of the term. Here is what defines as an altruist:

altruism  (ˈæltruːˌɪzəm) 1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for the welfare of others

2. the philosophical doctrine that right action is that which produces the greatest benefit to others

While this short answer gives you an idea of what altruism is let’s look at Wikipedia for a longer explanation.

Altruism /ˈæltruːɪzəm/ is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of ‘others’ toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.

Altruism was central to the teachings of Jesus found in the Gospel especially in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain.

Some Christian denominations use altruism as the very foundation of their beliefs. Quakers are one example of that and Catholics to one degree or another. Other Christian denominations very much downplay altruism and instead favor personal salvation, human unworthiness and helplessness as their foundation. From personal experience I believe Lutherans are part of that group but they are by no means the only ones in that category.

It may surprise some of you to learn that in Buddhism altruism is also a foundational item. Here is Wikipedia again on that topic:

Altruism figures prominently in Buddhism. Love and compassion are components of all forms of Buddhism, and both are focused on all beings equally: the wish that all beings be happy (love) and the wish that all beings be free from suffering (compassion). “Many illnesses can be cured by the one medicine of love and compassion. These qualities are the ultimate source of human happiness, and the need for them lies at the very core of our being” (Dalai Lama).

So to be an altruist is to care about others as much or even more than you care about yourself. I’m not sure that a person can learn to be an altruist. I think maybe you have to have that in your soul or at least your DNA 🙂 . Here is a study about the neurological origins of altruism/selfishness.

An experiment funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted in 2007 at the Duke University in Durham, North Carolina suggests a different view, “that altruistic behavior may originate from how people view the world rather than how they act in it”. In the study published in the February 2007 print issue of Nature Neuroscience, researchers have found a part of the brain that behaves differently for altruistic and selfish people.

Why some have it and others don’t is a mystery to me. As mentioned above the opposite of altruism is selfishness. It is not hard to find examples of selfishness almost anywhere you look. The current political arena is gushing with it.

Are you also and altruist? If so have you always been one or did some life event push you in that direction?

Tolstoy and Christianity….

After watching the ending of a movie about Leo Tolstoy the other day I got interested in his life and writings. It surprised me to learn that he like Thomas Jefferson had written his own version of the Bible called the “Tolstoy Bible”. He again like Jefferson believed that the Christian church had strayed too far from the words of its founder Jesus Christ. I also learned that much of what Gandhi practiced come from Tolstoy’s writings.  Here are some words about that from Wikipedia:

Tolstoy’s Christian beliefs centered on the Sermon on the Mount, particularly the injunction to turn the other cheek, which he saw as a justification for pacifism, nonviolence and nonresistance. Various versions of “Tolstoy’s Bible” have been published, indicating the passages Tolstoy most relied on, specifically, the reported words of Jesus himself.  Tolstoy believed being a Christian required him to be a pacifist; the consequences of being a pacifist, and the apparently inevitable waging of war by government, made him a philosophical anarchist.

Tolstoy believed that a true Christian could find lasting happiness by striving for inner self-perfection through following the Great Commandment of loving one’s neighbor and God rather than looking outward to the Church or state for guidance. His belief in nonresistance (nonviolence) when faced by conflict is another distinct attribute of his philosophy based on Christ’s teachings. By directly influencing Mahatma Gandhi with this idea through his work The Kingdom of God is Within You, Tolstoy has had a huge influence on the nonviolent resistance movement to this day. 

Before this study the only thing I had credited Tolstoy with was his very long book “War and Peace”. It is interesting to see the more complete man now.  Much of his spiritual understanding are my own as well as the Quakers that I so admire.  To get a better understanding of Tolstoy’s Christian beliefs here are some of the words from the above cited book entitled “The Kingdom of God is Within You”. It now resides on my Kindle for a future read.

From: The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy  1894 But Christ could not have founded the Church, that is, what we now understand by that word. For nothing like the idea of the Church as we know it now, with its sacraments, miracles, and above all its claim to infallibility, is to be found either in Christ’s words or in the ideas of the men of that time. The fact that men called what was formed afterward by the same word as Christ used for something totally different, does not give them the right to assert that Christ founded the one, true Church. Besides, if Christ had really founded such an institution as the Church for the foundation of all his teaching and the whole faith, he would certainly have described this institution clearly and definitely, and would have given the only true Church, besides tales of miracles, which are used to support every kind of superstition, some tokens so unmistakable that no doubt of its genuineness could ever have arisen. But nothing of the sort was done by him. And there have been and still are different institutions, each calling itself the true Church…..

It is terrible to think what the churches do to men. But if one imagines oneself in the position of the men who constitute the Church, we see they could not act differently. The churches are placed in a dilemma: the Sermon on the Mount or the Nicene Creed–the one excludes the other. If a man sincerely believes in the Sermon on the Mount, the Nicene Creed must inevitably lose all meaning and significance for him, and the Church and its representatives together with it. If a man believes in the Nicene Creed, that is, in the Church, that is, in those who call themselves its representatives, the Sermon on the Mount becomes superfluous for him. And therefore the churches cannot but make every possible effort to obscure the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount, and to attract men to themselves. It is only due to the intense zeal of the churches in this direction that the influence of the churches has lasted hitherto.

Let the Church stop its work of hypnotizing the masses, and deceiving children even for the briefest interval of time, and men would begin to understand Christ’s teaching. But this understanding will be the end of the churches and all their influence. And therefore the churches will not for an instant relax their zeal in the business of hypnotizing grown-up people and deceiving children. This, then, is the work of the churches: to instill a false interpretation of Christ’s teaching into men, and to prevent a true interpretation of it for the majority of so- called believers.

Some very interesting words from a very influential person of his time.

James The Brother of Jesus – Faith Without Works is Dead…..

I want to get back to our study of the Book of James in the Bible.  To me this is one of the most important books in the Bible as it tells us most directly how to live our lives. Here is an extended quote from the second chapter for our discussion today. I have underlined a few places that I will be discussing further.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?  As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

For the matter of this discussion I also want to bring up a quote for Paul in Ephesians 2:

For it is by grace  you have been saved,  through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works,  so that no one can boast. 

The first quotes obviously shows that faith and deeds (works) are inevitably linked. As James says a body without a spirit is dead and faith without works is equally dead.  Can dead faith save you? James answers that in a very emphatic way. The second quote seems to directly contradict the first.  This is one of several places where one author contradicts another in the Bible. Who are we to believe? Unfortunately many current day Christian evangelical denominations, particularly my Lutheran friends, latch onto the second quote as a means to treat Christianity as a fire insurance. To them just by saying you have faith you are therefore saved from any consequences of your actions, or maybe more appropriately lack of action. All you need to do is cash in that “faith” when you leave this earth. This is what saddened me more than anything else during my extensive three year study of current day Christianity. It is very clear to me that one of the purposes for Jesus to come down to earth was to teach us how to live and love each other. To ignore that basic fact is almost to ignore Jesus himself!

I don’t pretend to know why Paul apparently said something that seems to directly contradict what Jesus’ brother James said?  But I know what side of this controversy I will land on.  Let’s not deceive ourselves into believing that Christianity is a “something for nothing” religion. When you sign on to be a Christian you also sign on to the duties of showing that you are a Christian and that usually means living a very different life than others around you and that just isn’t visible in the world today. Words without action just don’t hack it. Don’t treat your Christianity as a fire insurance; do what Jesus says….

Conservatism and….

Source: Column: You can’t reconcile Ayn Rand and Jesus –

The source article is about how many conservatives have put Ayn Rand on a pedestal lately. It goes into how much of her philosophy runs very contrary to espoused conservative values. The graphic I attached here from that article is pretty neat. It does a good job of showing the broken link between Ayn Rand and supposedly Republican party principles.

Here are some words from the reference article:

Turning the tables on traditional Christian morality, Rand argues that altruism is immoral and selfishness is good. Moreover, there isn’t a problem in the world that laissez-faire capitalism can’t solve if left alone to perform its miracles

Looking at the graphic also got me to thinking that even the right side of the graphic is an oxymoron to me.  I just can’t see how so many Christians can be so aligned with today’s version of conservatism?  With the exception of two issues (anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality) conservatism and Christianity seem to be very different to me.  That is what this post will primarily be about.

Let’s approach this issue with discussing what conservatism is about vs. what Christianity is about:

  • Conservatism is about being a “hawk”
  • Christianity is about being a peacemaker
  • Conservatism is about keeping your own money
  • Christianity is about giving a stranger the shirt off your back
  • Conservatism is about a strong work ethic
  • Christianity is about helping the poor and downtrodden
  • Conservatism is about strict enforcement of the law
  • Christianity is about giving freedom to prisoners
  • Conservatism is about a strong national patriotism
  • Christianity is about being a citizen of another place

As is obvious with these directly opposite characteristics I have my doubts about how sincerely conservatives cling to the cross of Christianity. But for me the most pointed example of the lack of Christian compassion by conservatives is the current crop of Republican presidential candidates. There is almost nothing in any of their platforms that indicate that they will be compassionate presidents.

  • They talk continuously about taking back Obamacare and leaving the uninsured to the mercy of the insurance companies.
  • They talk about reducing Medicaid allocations to eliminate even that safety net for the poor.
  • They want to eliminate agencies like the EPA and Education
  • They talk about cutting the safety net for everyone and yet leaving our extremely bloated military budgets unscathed.
  • They talk about defunding the U.N. which is the last vestige of peacemaking  left.
  • They take great pride in the governors in their party who are making massive cuts in State level funding for the poor.

I wish someone would point me to just a handful of things that could be considered compassionate about any in this group. I really don’t want to believe that these guys are intent on turning us into a “survival of the fittest” nation. I know they almost exclusively are saying what they are against; I wish they would show us what they are for or at least on occasion show a little compassion.

But what do I know…..

Waiting For God…

I heard an interesting sermon this Sunday. It was about waiting for God. As you know this is a topic dear to my heart. Some examples given in the sermon were all the prayers to stop the BP oil leak and the many amber alerts that take place in the U.S. nowadays. The sermon thread seemed to be that we are always disappointed in the silence of God when it comes to our prayers. Why didn’t God stop the leak earlier? How can he allow children to be molested and murdered when there are so many prayers coming to him for a better outcome. Why doesn’t God answer our prayers?

The seeming answer to this dilemma at least as this sermon went was that Jesus’ resurrection was the answer to all our prayers. It should give us hope that all our pain and suffering will go away once we are called to heaven. So, we are to endure all our present suffering because of the future glory Jesus’ resurrection promises. Unfortunately, or maybe sadly, this type of conclusion is all too familiar in many of today’s churches. “Just hold on until the next life and everything will be wonderful”.

To me this is not what Jesus taught. He taught us that we as faithful Christians are God’s representatives here on earth and we are to take action in his name. When a child goes missing we are to do everything in our power to help assure a good outcome. We are also to support those who are activated by these alerts with both our time and our tax dollars. We should not be stingy with our tax dollars when it comes to our neighbor’s health or well being; especially the least fortunate among us. If a good result doesn’t come in these situations then it is our duty to console those who grieve. In other words we are to be our brother’s keeper. Christ did not intend us to passively wait until our death so we can see God’s glory. He meant for us to show His glory through our every day actions.

I do believe that God does from time to time give us miracles but those times are rightly very rare indeed. If he was constantly fixing our society’s and our personal screw-ups would we indeed have free will that he promises us? Instead of bailing us out every time adversity strikes us he intends for us to rally around our neighbors to assure good results or to at least ameliorate their pain and suffering. That is how people know we are Christians and that is how we show God’s true love in this world. We should be doing the work that God gave us to do and not be fixated on sitting around and waiting for the next life because it will be better than this one. Christianity is not a sit back and wait religion; it is a call to action. At least in my mind.

And the journey goes on….

I Believe:

  • I believe that each of the 39,000 Christian denominations believe that they most faithfully follow Jesus. Each believes Jesus imagined the church as looking just like them.
  • I believe that it is arrogant for any of us to suggest that we alone have most accurately discerned the true intentions of Jesus.
  • I believe that we tend to root around in Scripture until we find a verse that supports our preference, then crown our view the only biblical one, even when other verses contradict it. This is why theological claims purporting to be biblical must always be given a very careful examination in light of the whole gospel and especially the words and commands of Jesus.