American Christianity Has Turned Into Jesus Junk
There’s one silver lining to the evangelical right’s embrace of Trump: It will speed up the much needed collapse of American Christianity.
Many are wondering why I, a professing Christian, want to see denominational membership rolls implode.
Seeing as how American Christianity has utterly failed to follow the teachings of Christ, we who desire to stay true to those teachings serve humanity better by steering people away from the rapacious, carnivorous wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing of organized religion.
Organized religion -- on all levels, among all denominations -- has perverted itself in the pursuit of Mammon, the almighty dollar.
When we were publishing the Serenity novels, we attended numerous Christian booksellers conference.
They were filled crotch to sternum with what the Christian booksellers themselves called “Jesus junk”: Cheap, gaudy, trashy, tasteless yet ultimately meaningless trinkets to fob off on weak minded, spiritually immature, fearful rubes.
The very existence of such crap flies in the face of Christ’s teachings, because Christ taught that what was freely given to us, so we should freely give to others.
Christ detested money taking priority over humanity, yet the modern churches are caught again and again and again violating Christ’s teachings.
If you need to wear
a sign that says,
“I’m a Christian”,
“Jesus junk” is just the most painfully obvious perversion of Christ’s teachings. The bogus prayer rugs and anointing oils and cross-shaped jewelry and sneakers and tchotchkes and T-shirts and other crap puts a dollar sign on salvation, but at least it’s open and honest about its scam.
The fact that so many churches need to meet a high monthly house nut to stay in operation reduces them to just-another-business.
That is not what Christ taught -- quite the contrary, in fact!
Christianity needs to regain its amateur status. It needs to turn its back on making a living and refocus on just plain living.
No, I’m sorry, but all you nice, liberal-leaning, mainstream churches don’t get a pass, either.
You should have shut this bullshit down generations ago.
You should have jumped straight down the throats of the televangelists and the chautauqua con-artists and the cult leaders and the racial bigots and the snake-oil salesmen and the snake handlers every time they popped their ugly heads up, and you should have done a better job of communicating the teachings of Christ to the world but you didn’t and the reason you didn’t is because your only metric was the amount of meat in the seats, not the quality of belief, much less the quality of the believers.
There’s an old joke about two Southern Baptists getting shipwrecked on a deserted island and the first thing they do is set a Sunday school attendance goal of 3.
That’s what you all did.
See how many people you could sign up so you could budget more accurately.
Jesus didn’t teach that.
Jesus taught that not everybody was going to grasp his message.
In the parable of the sower and the seeds, he gives 4 possible outcomes for those who hear the good news: Some will get it, but then become distracted by the worries of the world; some will get it but only superficially, turning their backs on it almost immediately.
Some won’t get it at all.
And only a few will truly grasp it, truly understand it, and apply it in their lives.
(I know there are some Calvinists out there who are eager to jump in at this point, but have patience, have patience; we will deal with your particular theological error in another post at another time.)
Yeah, we are supposed to go out and make disciples of all nations, but organized religion has not been doing that.
Organized religion by and large has ignored real discipleship and instead curried the spiritual fears and social anxieties of millions of people to get them to keep coming back and putting money in the till.
Because real Christians, true disciples of the way, don’t need that weekly spiritual massage.
They know where they belong.
They know what they’re doing.
Discipleship is not jumping through a series of arbitrary hoops and taboos some uptight anusoid claims represent God’s will.
Discipleship is Christ’s teachings.
There aren’t that many.
They’re pretty simple.
They’re very basic.
The golden rule.
Jesus’ point was that we were to be the salt and the light of the world, the persons who bring hope and joy to others by the manner in which we live among them, and in that same manner, offer guidance by example.
As he showed with the parable of the sower and the seeds, he didn’t expect everybody to get with the program.
But he knew enough would follow his way that they would end up making a profound difference in the lives of those around them, and by affecting those lives for the good, affecting the world at large as well.
Now here’s where people start asking, “But what about love God with all your heart, etc.” and the answer is: “What can you give to God that isn’t already His other than showing love, justice, mercy, and compassion to His creation?” The only thing God can’t do is force you to act morally, because such coercion would itself be immoral.
You have to choose to love others as you love yourself; that’s the only way to demonstrate your love of God.
If you don’t love others,
everything else is bullshit.
If you do love others,
nothing else matters.
Organized religion has lost sight of that message, because when people love others they don’t spend their time worrying if God’s bouncer is going to keep them out of heaven.
They’re already in the kingdom of God.
Nothing else matters.
UPDATE: The biggest problem writing about contemporary issues in Trump’s America is that you scarcely get the first paragraph written before some asshat comes along and craps on the altar anew, requiring comment on that.
Franklin Graham recently delivered a prayer for Trump’s latest race rally in Phoenix. Among the many risible things he said was this:
“We have flaunted sexual immorality to the world.”
He’s standing there as an exemplar of American Christian leadership, uttering an invocation at an event for twice-divorced, thrice-married Donald “Grab ‘em by the pussy” Trump, and he has the utter gall to claim we as a nation have flaunted sexual immorality?
Folks, that is it. American Christianity in its current form needs to be shut down.
Text © Buzz Dixon