Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Nailing Jesus to a Cross

The question which consumes me these days and for which I cannot find a suitable answer is why anyone in their right mind would vote for any Republican for any office anywhere in the world?

Okay, that's a bit hyperbolic and I'll admit there might be one or two good Republicans.  Nah.  If a person has any ethical standards, any morality, any goodness in his or her heart, that person just cannot be a Republican.

Recent days have also made clear to the world that Christian "evangelicals" or "fundamentalists" are not to be taken seriously when they speak of their religion or their religious beliefs because Christianity never did take the Jesus of the Gospels seriously and that still holds true today.

To be a Christian today means 1) that you believe something - like the trinitarian nonsense, or 2) you have been baptized (that's the Roman Catholic nonsense), or 3) you belong to some "Christian" organization.

What it also means these days, in most cases, is that you don't give a damn about following Jesus' teachings.  It may be that you don't know what Jesus taught even though you're big on how important the Bible is.  It may be that you know a few things that Jesus taught, but they don't interfere with your life and you can justify your perfidy so your conscience lets you off the hook, but you do NOT follow Jesus.

Donald Trump, his admirers, and most Christians are the antithesis of everything that Jesus taught.

Let's go back about 2,000 years.  The Christian church began before the Gospels were written. It had it's beginnings in a number of "Christ" ("Christ" meaning "savior" or "messiah") movements around the Mediterranean in the early years of the first millennium.  The Apostle Paul came on the scene after receiving a "vision" of the Christ who lived in the first of Paul's seven heavens.  [Most Christians today don't know that Paul believed in seven heavens.]   Paul began preaching about his Christ, visiting the aforementioned Christ communities, and identified his Christ with the Jewish tradition [Paul being a Jew].

Paul was relatively successful, especially after his big fight with Peter over the need for a Christian to be circumcised.  Paul said "No," and Peter more or less disappeared.

But, Paul needed more than just his word that his Christ was Jewish, so several writers compiled slightly different versions of a story about a Jewish man named Jeshua (Jesus).  Because the authors came at the story from different backgrounds, Jesus (as he became known) was presented alternatively as a teacher, or a healer, or a rabbi, or a guru, magician, or a messiah of sorts.  In some versions, Jesus was considered a inclusive character.  In others, not so much.  In fact, in one Gospel Jesus declares explicitly that his message and ministry was strictly for the "people of Israel" and not for gentiles.

It should be noted here that there were many Christ groups who had their own gospels which presented a different picture of Jesus than the gospels with which we are familiar.  But that's another whole article.

The point of this is to stress that from the very beginning of the Christian church the emphasis was never on Jesus or his teachings, but on a variety of theological notions, culminating eventually, in traditions such as the Mass, a worship service in which Christ is crucified again and his real body and blood are served to true believers (i.e. members of the Roman or Orthodox or Anglican church).

After several hundred years, "orthodoxy" had hardened and had gained control and church councils took the authority to determine what it meant to be a Christian.  In all cases, what it meant was to believe specific doctrines, a most important one being the trinitarian doctrine which stated that God is one but in three "persons" - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Bishops and others who disbelieved that publicly were quite often put to death and their writings were burned.

So much for following Jesus.

Pope Francis has tried to make some changes in the Roman Catholic tradition which would put slightly more emphasis on what Jesus taught but he has not been all that successful and faces a growing movement infused with hostility for these rather mild changes.

Today, we are reaping the benefits of this horrendous historical tradition.  Thus, Trump and millions of his minions, claiming the name of Christian, stand for and execute programs designed, not to help their fellow human beings, but to institutionalize and normalize laws and practices which will make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

A democracy, as Republicans like to point out, is a system in which the majority rule.  Thus, having the majority in Congress, they can do whatever the hell they want.  Unfortunately, they've forgotten or simply don't care about a core component of democracy.  A democracy cannot succeed unless the rights of the minorities are recognized and dealt with.

That is not happening today.  But then we no longer have a democracy.  We have a plutocracy where those with the most money win and dictate the policies and programs of the country by buying enough representatives in Congress to gain control.

But I've gotten a bit off track.  If you were to take a poll of members of Congress and other leaders of our government, I would guess that at least 75% or more would claim to be Christians. If you polled just Republicans, I'd guess that number would exceed 90%.

Trump and his minions may be Christians, but that is utterly meaningless, because they don't even pretend to follow Jesus.

Jesus said to love your enemies, to turn the other cheek if one strikes you, to pray for those who hate you, to feed the hungry, to clothe those in need, to care about people in prison, to take care of the homeless and beggars, to heal the sick.

He said that rich people have a big problem, because they're going to hell unless they give up their riches and follow him.

He said it's good to be meek, to be understanding, to work with others for the common good.

He said not to pray out in public where people can see or hear you but pray in your closet where only God can see or hear you.  He hated all public displays of religion.  He hated all dishonesty.

Jesus did not demand belief in religious doctrines, but actions on behalf of other people.

There are millions of misinformed and misguided Christians today who think that the US is special in God's eyes and that we must, therefore, become a Christian nation which they are quick to explain means that the United States must make Christian religious doctrine the basis for the laws of the land.

I'm sorry, but such nonsense would make Jesus puke!

It is incredible that all these Christians (a large and vocal majority in this country) do not give a damn about following Jesus!  They want power, they want to rule, they want to force their beliefs upon everyone!

But in fact, the Republicans currently running things are mostly Christian.  And sure enough, none of them follow Jesus.  It's just the opposite.  Everything they do, every piece of legislation, every law they propose, is set up to to make the rich richer and the poor poorer; to make the country suffer in favor of making the plutocrats more wealthy.

Health care:  Republicans don't care if the sick are cared for.  Their healthcare program is a boon to the rich and a bomb to the rest of us.  They are working to destroy Medicare and Medicaid.

They want to defund Planned Parenthood which is an organization dedicated to helping women in distress and saving their lives.  It's NOT an abortion factory in spite of Republican lies to that effect.  To hell with Jesus and his teachings is what they are saying.

Rules and regulations:  Republicans like to feign concern for the country by claiming all the rules and regulations are strangling businesses and endangering job growth.  That's bullshit.  But they use that argument in order to relax rules that make our food safe to eat, our drugs safe to take, our roads and bridges safe to drive, our water safe to drink, our air safe to breathe, etc.

And all of that, of course, is directly opposed to what Jesus taught.

Caring for the poor and elderly:  Republicans want to destroy Social Security which is the main source of income for millions of Americans today.

Caring for the unwanted:  Republicans work night and day to keep certain minorities from voting because these minorities know the Republican Party is their enemy.  Republicans want to build walls and use bans to stop people from coming to our country even though we are a nation of immigrants and Jesus specifically said that his followers will care for such people.

Caring for the earth:  In spite of incontrovertible evidence that global warming is a huge and massive and immediate threat to the United States and the world, Republicans are fighting all attempts to deal with it or mitigate these negative effects.

War and peace:  Over the past several decades, presidents from both parties have worked to reduce our nuclear arsenal, to reduce our weapons inventory and to entice other countries to do the same.  Republicans, led by Trump, want to increase our already bloated military budget and strut about threatening war to any any country that gets in the way of our "exceptional" righteousness.

Jesus said that's the way wars get started and all hell breaks loose.

Everything the Republicans/Christians are doing or proposing is directly opposed to what Jesus taught.

It's rather like nailing him to a cross!