Friday, December 20, 2013
A dear friend of mine posted this meme poster on Facebook. I admit I found it fascinating.... a wonderful example of how out-of-context half-truths about Christianity can be used as a club to whonk on what are clearly meant to be (in this case) Mr. John Fugelsang's political enemies.
Mr. Fugelsang needs to spend a little more time becoming more closely acquainted with the person he thinks he is describing. (Of course so do we all.) Nevertheless, let's discuss his points:
Radical? "Render unto Caesar...."
Nonviolent? Ask the moneychangers about that.
Revolutionary? Pilate disagreed. He sentenced Christ to stop a riot, not because he thought He had done anything wrong. He said precisely this as he washed his hands.
Hung around with lepers/hookers/crooks? Okay, that's one valid point.
Wasn't American and never spoke English? Not American? No He wasn't. (That's a second valid point.) Never spoke English? Hmn. He can speak any language He wants..... leastwise if His followers could do so a few weeks after His crucifixion (as related in Acts), He surely could have communicated in any language He wished Himself as well.
Anti-wealth? No, He just warned it was very hard for the rich to get into Heaven, not that it was impossible to do so. He reached many rich people, particularly Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph was so rich he had a spare grave to give away. I do not recall Him telling either of them to turn over their wealth to the block committee for equitable distribution because wealth was evil (although 'to be made perfect' one might wish to do so). Christ DID strongly urged people--not the Galilean Department of Human Services, but individual people on their own--to take care of the poor man at the gate with the open running sores. Not to mention the guy in the ditch who had been set upon by robbers.
Anti-death-penalty? Being son of God He could have avoided his own easily, not to mention released a couple of other guys with him. Clearly the death penalty is part of a larger moral schema. (See also below about 'torture'.)
Anti-public-prayer? No, just those by hypocrites. He praised the widow who contributed a mite to the most important site of public prayer in the world at the time, remember. And He praised the guy in the Temple who stayed in the back row and begged God's mercy. It's not public prayer He is against, but bogus prayer. (He also didn't like bankers outside the gates, either, although I am sure they would have been welcome if they bothered to come inside.)
Never anti-gay? The concept of "gay" is a modern invention. He didn't mention internet porn either. He came not to abolish the law, He came to complete it. And the law He did not abolish includes some clear statements on the subject of sexuality between the same sex which He didn't exactly public denounce or modify. (His statement on the permanent, very binary and heterosexual nature of marriage is BTW right there in Mark 10.)
Never mentioned birth control? Since it hadn't been invented yet, He didn't mention it explicitly. He also didn't mention human cloning. But see above about the Law, which clearly mentions something about "be fruitful and multiply."
Abortion? "If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Matt 18:6). Methinx being killed and flushed down a toilet before birth qualifies as 'stumbling.' At least I am certain He would take a dim view of this most peculiar institution. (See above about His approach to 'moneychangers.') PS He didn't say anything about gas chambers either. I think even Mr. Fugelsang would agree He wouldn't like them.
Never called the poor 'lazy'? No, but He DID say that they would always be with you which seems to indicate that this is an ongoing problem unamending of abolition. (PS He never called the poor so incapable of caring for themselves that a supernannystate needed to be created to care for them, either.)
Never justified torture? "....Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.…" Lesson here: Forgive or else. (Gulp.)
Never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes? No, but He didn't advocate marijuana use either. Again, let's stick to valid, non-contemporary issues, please.
Never asked for a copay for a leper? No, but He DID expect those cured to thank Him for curing them... which means they owed *something* for their treatment.
"Long haired"? Okay, that's another valid point. (How do we know? The Shroud of Turin, which clearly shows Him literally both crucified and risen. Which means Mr. Fugelsang might wish to take Him a bit more seriously.)
Brown-skinned? True but so what? So is everyone who lives in the Middle East, sooner or later, unless you're Edgar Winter. (Example: First wave Crusaders were indistinguishable from the natives by the time the Second and Third Crusaders showed up.)
Homeless? Temporarily, yes, He spent a lot of time on the road. But He had so much money coming in to help Him out that He delegated the ATM duty to Judas.
Community organizing? Try community *disorganizing.* "For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;…" Matt 10:35
Anti-Slut-Shaming? Yes but. He didn't want to kill The Woman Taken in Adultery, and thought nobody else should either--but He strongly advised her to stop being, um, dissolute. (Though He put it much more gently, the message is undeniable.) He didn't shame her... just told her to behave herself.
Middle Eastern Jew? Okay two more valid points.
Nice try, Mr. Fugelsang.....
One thing I don't doubt: while Jesus is not necessarily a middle class American, his reaction to those (few) Americans from the other side of the aisle than those criticized in the poster, i.e., those who pretend they're on His side while advocating revolution, fascist statism, the killing of the unborn, wild libertinism, expropriation of other people's wealth, and the silencing of those who quote His words in context would probably be very similar to He said he'd one day say to the goats...... or at least turning over tables and freaking out would likely be on the agenda.
Ergo: although Mr. Fugelsang is running around with cleats and a jersey.... let's not join him in using Christ as a political football, 'k?
Posted by (c)2014 Richard L. Kent, Esq. (MichiganSilverback at gmail dot com) at 3:58 PM