In The Name Of God, What Are We Doing?
Few things are as disheartening as realizing the faith one has followed since childhood is debased with superstition.
Before anybody thinks this means I don’t believe in God…well, I don’t believe in the symbol we have conjured up for the divine, the bearded flying white man plastered to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (I mean, let’s not have any lectures about violating the 10 Commandments while this blasphemy remains intact).
I believe there is a greater / grander / higher intelligence behind this universe, responsible for it (and all the multiverse and previously existing universes that can / will / have exist/ed).
But I prefer to call that intelligence the divine, “God” as a name and term having been denigrated into a simplistic tribal deity by far too many of my co-religionists.
We have debased the gospel -- the literal “good news” -- by focusing on power over love, authority over service, judgment over justice, piety over virtue.
We do this because in our frantic desire to succeed we confuse numbers with strength, and instead of focusing on broadening and our knowledge and spiritual wisdom -- admitted at the cost of losing most enrolled members -- we stay stuck in a simplistic fear based superstition meant for pre-literate children.
We are not purse puppies that “God” totes around, protecting us from the rough edges of the world, rewarding us and loving us as long as he lap up to him affectionately.
No, we’re draft horses, meant to shoulder the great work.
The great thing is we get to chose to be draft horses.
We recognize at some point we have the opportunity to be involved in the divine kingdom, that we can make a difference, we can matter even if we’re never ever recognized for what we’ve done.
It’s the reward of being part of something greater and grander than we can ever be on our own.
We don’t need treats.
We don’t need toys.
We don’t need cuddles.
We just need the chance to do the work.
The perversity of modern Christian churches is they have not merely lost sight of this, but they actively work against it by fighting all efforts to enlighten their membership.
Memorize Bible verses? Recite arcane rules? Jump through elaborate hoops?
Oh, sure, all that they’re more than willing to do, because in doing so they can pretend (if we’re being kind) that they’re doing “God’s will”.
(And if we’re not kind but honest? “God swill” is more like it.)
This perversity has been going on since day one in the church. Even Jesus had to deal with it. “The kingdom of God is here, NOW!” he kept telling people…
…and they kept asking, “How can I get to heaven?”
Fool! This is it! Eternity isn’t something waiting for you -- you’re already in the middle of it!
Quit mucking around and get to the task.
And the task is not playing Bible trivia, or seeing how many people we can pack into a service.
All that’s for naught if it’s done in the hope God will reward us, either in the next life or this one.
Be. Here. Now. As our eastern cousins would say.
God has no body but us.
If we aren’t helping, people will be hurting.
If we’re waiting for candy, people are hurting.
If we’re playing Bible trivia, people are hurting.
And if people are hurting, and we can do something about it, and we aren’t, then we are the ones hurting them.
Organized Christianity has sold its congregants a bill of goods.
“Only Jesus can get you into heaven, and only we can get you next to Jesus. If you don’t do what we say, you’ll never get to heaven.”
Jesus never said that.
He said he was the way and the truth and the life, but when he said “way” he didn’t mean he was a door or a road or a path or a passageway.
He meant he was the manner in which one should live.
And, yeah, I’ve checked:
The Aramaic word translated into Greek and then into English as “way” can mean either a door or a manner of doing things in all three languages.
“You can’t do this because the Bible says so” is bullshit.
The Bible in general and Jesus in particular teaches love and compassion and kindness.
Do that and you’re doing the divine will.
You don’t need a threat of hell or a promise of heaven to do the right thing.
You just need a sense of doing something bigger and better than you are alone.
Penn Jillette once said, “The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine.”
What is causing the implosion of organized Christianity is the clear disconnect and hypocrisy between what we say and what we do.
People who reject Christ’s message cite that as the very specific reason why.
Our numbers decline, and we freak out, because how can we show God we love him if we don’t get a bunch of other people to love him, too?
We don’t care if the other people truly benefit from the experience or not; we will, in fact, crush any sign of negativity or individuality to keep that person in the confines of the church.
We do this because we want our Scooby snack from God.
We want him to make us healthy and wealthy (but not wise, oh, no, not that, because wisdom hurts).
We want other people to admire us and envy us and want to be like us.
And we’ll pass laws and condemn anyone who differs.
Our churches dry up because we’ve hit the saturation point:
Everybody who can be “saved” has been “saved” and what’s happening now is that the chumps are wising up and leaving the worst abusers.
Let me amend that:
The smarter chumps are wising up and leaving, the real chumps are finding even more abusive churches to adhere to.
Stop being afraid.
The divine presents us with a golden opportunity.
Love one another.
Show kindness and compassion and mercy to others.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
It’s no more complicated than that.
© Buzz Dixon