We Hate To Say We Told You So, But…

…we told you so. DuggarsThe people most obsessed with policing the private morals of others are typically those with the most skeletons in their own closets.

Seriously, who didn’t see this one coming?

If you didn’t, if you thought these were good and blessed and wholesome people, then you are a major part of the problem.

It’s time we Christians start discussing the very large elephant defecating and trumpeting loudly on the altar:

Modern mainstream Christianity has become infiltrated by a bunch of pious conmen who are in it for their own benefit -- financial / political / emotional -- and not to share the teachings of Christ.

When we’re lucky they are merely lying sociopaths who are putting one over on the rubes.

When we’re not lucky they are very dangerous, very delusional people who truly believe the obscenities they spew & do.

The Church -- i.e., the body of believers -- needs an exorcism.

Now, let’s be clear that I am using the term metaphorically but accurately. Classic demonic possession could only occur when the person possessed invited the demon in.

We invited our legion of evil doers in long ago.

The tension between the church of power and the church of piety had existed since the earliest days of humanity, but we are now at a crucial nexus in our faith’s history.

More and more people are abandoning religion.

By and large, these are not people who never grew up in a religious background, but people who were raised in so-called “Christian” homes and churches and have turned their back in disgust on what they have seen and experienced.

These people can read.

They see what Christ taught in the Bible, and they see what those who have crowded onto the pulpits and in front of the cameras and over the Internet claim is what Christ taught, and what they see is the difference between a life of love and compassion and service to others and self-serving / self-enriching / self-empowering drivel spewed from the lips of liars and sociopaths.

The more famous a minister, the more widespread his or her reach, the more intense their “moral” message, the more likely they are undermining the teachings of Christ and they are the ones actually destroying the fabric of our culture.

[“Surely you can’t mean Billy Graham!” I hear some say. Fuckin’ A I include Billy Graham: He endorsed and enabled two presidents’ lies that got us into and grossly extended one unjust & unjustifiable war, and said nothing as another president openly embraced white bigotry as the base of his party and yet another president lied us into another unjust & unjustifiable war, all the while lining his own pockets to the tune of $25 million. Jesus taught very explicitly on this topic, folks; it don’t bode well for Billy to be enjoying anything past the millions he’s already raked in. And full disclosure: I am acutely aware of what I might have done to contribute to the gestalt that produced Iraq et al, as well.]

So what do we, the people who do want to follow Christ’s teachings, do about the situation?

First, we have to live the kind of life Christ taught.

That means we cannot put our nation, our race, our culture, our city, our church, our friends, or our family above justice. This is not to say we must treat any of those with contempt, but they have to be second to the calling. If we love all equally and with compassion then our own will be well taken care of, but if we favor our own at the expense of others, we are just perpetuating the misery of the world and guaranteeing a fraught-filled future for those we profess to love.

Second, we have to be vocal when people attempt to practice injustice in the name of Christ.

When I grew up in the Old South, polite Southerners refrained from calling out bigots and haters because it was impolite to do so to people in our social circles. As a result, the victims of those bigots and haters who were outside of our social circles suffered and died. We Southerners failed our duty as Christians. When we see hate and exclusion and supremacy and selfishness being extolled from pulpits and blogs today as virtues, we need to step up and challenge those viewpoints point-blank and loudly.

Finally, we need to acknowledge that the institution of churches as we in North America have used them (i.e., ersatz social clubs for local insiders) is over and done with.

We need to shutter the doors -- literally -- of any institution that is self-supporting. Churches should be charities at all levels, not businesses. Stop supporting multi-millionaire pastors. Stop buying “Jesus junk” (their own term, not mine) at “Christian” stores. Stop consuming “Christian” media that’s just watered down imitations of secular pop culture with the occasional reference to Jesus thrown in.

[Seriously, there should be no “Christian” media whatsoever. Some of the greatest works of art and literature and music were created by Christians who put their faith into what they were making, not fast buck artists hoping to ride a fad to riches. Stop it. Stop trying to put Jesus into everything you do; put Jesus in your heart and you won’t be able to keep him out of what you do.]

The concept of church as it existed in the 19th century began splintering in the early 20th century when the first means of mass media were introduced. The old idea of church was a local meeting place where like minded people gathered to support and comfort one another, and to learn how to apply what they had learned in their daily walk.

That concept has been supplanted by the Internet in all its myriad forms.

Where it was once possible to silence critics and doubters with double talk or hand waving vagueness in local 19th century churches, now in the 21st those people can find others sharing their thoughts and concerns with a minimum of keystrokes.

The people clinging to the concept of 19th century church are the ones who have resolutely refused to enter the 21st -- mainly because they can’t figure out how to commoditize it.

We don’t need any more professional preachers and teachers and youth ministers, we need people who are willing to walk the walk and support others trying to do so. We need amateurs in the truest sense of the term -- people who do what they do because they love to do it, because they cannot fathom not doing it.

Today only 77% of the nation self-identifies as Christian, down from about 85% around 2000, and over 90% in the 1960s.

Honest to God, I wish the numbers were truly reversed. I would rather have 23% genuine dedicated Christians who live lives of love, compassion, mercy, and justice (not retribution!) in a nation that’s 77% non-believers, than 77% who claim to follow Christ but deny everything Jesus stood for.

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