Posted by: silverback | 2010/09/07

sermon

let me first admit honestly and wholeheartedly that i am NOT a Biblical scholar. i know where to look if i’m looking for the Ten Commandments, or if i want to read (or tell) the story of Moses being set afloat on the Nile, or to read about Christ’s birth. i’m aware of the general order of the books, and in general, who wrote each of the various Letters. recently, i’ve been considering breaking it out & putting in a little bit more study, even going so far as to consider becoming Ordained. my motives would not be pure. honestly, i would only do this to beat it over the heads of those i judge to be doing it wrong.

my introduction to and adoption of Religion in my tween years was fairly tumultuous; my mother was very adamant that my sister and i should be introduced to The Church, while my father was rather cheerfully antithetical about my mother’s choice of the Southern Baptists. this friction, among other things, eventually led to a trial separation for them, and emotional confusion on many levels for my sister and i. i ended up turning my back on the Baptists, but not before becoming baptised and saved by the Lord Jesus Christ, for whatever that’s worth. it came to an end when the Pastor claimed John Lennon’s music was categorically “of the devil,” because of the one line in “Imagine” that begins, “…imagine there no Heaven.”

my father, once sequestered in the boarding house, introduced me to the faith of his youth – the Episcopalian Church. if anything, this was diametrically the opposite of the passion of the Baptists with its ritual and incense and the Stations of the Cross and all the other sit-kneel-stand rote worship. i enjoyed the sermons, though. they were much more accessible to me as a young teenager; they contained much fewer absolutes. the Baptists had loved their absolutes. i am also, for what it is worth, a confirmed Episcopalian. as an infant, i was also baptised as a Presbyterian. i suppose all my bases are covered, at least on the Protestant side of things.

as i have stated, my knowledge of the Bible is patchy. i believe my understanding of it is above average. i view it as a reference book for the Christian religion. i don’t believe one can take its words too literally because it has been translated from the original text at least five different times. from the ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts to Latin, then from Latin to Old English, then to the King James text, and then to the “New English.” also, the fact that it was compiled from so many different people and places into a single book, arguably still incomplete. in short, i believe the reader needs to exercise literacy and a strong sense of context to parse the Christian ideals from the white noise of the various human dialects.

i’m disappointed in us, lately. us, as in US – the white people (and those of color, for that matter) who have taken the religion of Christianity and distorted it into a weapon to be used against anybody whose ideas don’t align. those who have taken it and turned it into a vehicle of hatred and fear. those who have turned it into a tool of divisiveness and separation. those who, at the same time, have left me breathless with undirected rage. i don’t think Muslims should be hated or punished for belonging to another faith; i don’t believe holding an “International Koran-Burning Day,” is an act of Christianity. i don’t believe God favors any one political party over another, nor do i believe He cares if the President holds a National Day of Prayer service in the White House.

i don’t claim to be a Christian at this point, perhaps for some of the above reasons. it almost feels as if the very name of my childhood faith has been misappropriated, and i no longer want to be associated with “them.” all the bases of my own Faith are rooted in Christianity. i call my deity “God,” if only for lack of a better word. my moral compass is pretty firmly calibrated to the Ten Commandments, and to the Golden Rule from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 7:12

seems a pretty simple Rule to live by. nowhere in the Bible (that i know of) does it say we get to choose to whom this should apply. the language, while archaic, is very clear – all things whatsoever that you would have men do unto you, do unto them also. it even sounds proactive, as if i’m not supposed to wait until others treat me well before i treat them as i would like to be treated. if this were the only verse in the entire Bible, and those of us claiming Christianity were simply to try to abide by this single rule, the world would be a much different place, wouldn’t it?

for me, Christianity should be based on a collection of principles including, but not limited to ideals such as Love, Forgiveness, Patience, Faith, Tolerance, Charity, Compassion…

what i’m perhaps most disappointed in is that Christianity was originally based on Love – unconditional Love, the Love of an all-powerful God towards His creation. a God, who according to the Gospel of John, gave His only Son that whoever believed in Him would not die, but have everlasting life. too often in the last few decades, it seems to be misused and turned around to an instrument of Fear, which is the opposite of Faith by some definitions. FEAR, in turn, begets hatred. i firmly believe that God is a being of pure Love. Love ties things together. Love makes humanity tolerable. Love is Eternal Life. we have been trained that there is a heavenly reward beyond this plane, in an afterlife – that we just have to set the stage in this life with some set of rituals, and all is forgiven once we depart this mortal coil.

i think this idea of Separation – that God is UP THERE, and our reunion with Him will occur at some point in the future, is a fatal misconception. i think it excuses bad behavior in the present. if i can be forgiven (again) tomorrow, then why should i treat others as i’d lke to be treated today? instead i can fuck them over, and so long as i’ve subscribed to the proper ritual, all is forgiven, and Heaven bound am i.

what if this is Heaven? what if Love is God is Love, and the feeling of it is the key to Heaven? have you ever held a newborn child, or a puppy? have you stopped to appreciate the ten-thousandth successive sunrise in your life? have you witnessed the miracle of the perfect balance of the atom? have you taken a minute or two to be grateful for walking this beautiful, infinite, fractal, chaotic Earth, spinning in vast infinite space, today? for me, embracing the moment, realizing it, feeling it, is my connection with God. my most earnest hope is that i can treat each person i meet today as i would like to be treated.

and then, i would really hope to feel like i’m worthy of better treatment.

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Responses

  1. Sainty sent me this. I think from now on I am going to follow your blog as best I can. You brought up some very good ideas that I think about and toil with on a daily basis. One thing I thought of, how did we (humans) have any morals before Moses came down off the mountain with the 10 commandments? I am pretty sure we had a good idea that killing each other was not a good thing…our parents deserved respect…

    I could go on and on. I am going to take some time to go through some of the archives.

    You guys need to come visit again!

  2. Well,I’d have to agree you aren’t a Christian as well. I think you missed the whole “Christ”- part of it.

    Not that I’m criticizing you- the Golden Rule holds for every religion in the world as far as I know. I’m satisfied with that- which is why I don’t look down on other faiths…. which is hard to do when you’re Catholic! 🙂


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