The First Annual Anchorage Christ-off

It is one thing to consider some apoplectic bozo sputtering about blood guilt, quite another to try to reason with someone who is ignorant of the history and theology surrounding “Jesus” yet is rabid about how they are “more Christian” than someone else (berating and verbally abusing, in the process, the other), especially when the other arguably deserves to be scorned for their heartless self-involvement and theological delusions?

Certainly, if the abuser chooses to argue that they are “true” adherents to the social gospels, then one would have to respond that their abuse is obviously inconsistent with both the “Christian” message to ‘turn the other cheek’, as well as the Muslim message (echoing the Old Testament concept) that justice is “the Lord’s” and humans should always treat other humans with patience and acceptance (see e.g. the Bee Sura.) 16_127

But for those who think that the gospels also portray Jesus as flatly revoking Deuteronomic law and rejecting the concept of a religiously ordered community, how does attempt to broaden their view of the complex issues of 2 millenia ago?  And to try to address such positions in the online “press” or on Facebook, of all places? The ignorance of history and theology so often seen online is disturbing; that it feeds a rather bizarre attempt at refutation of the claims made for a particular religion by others, such as we saw this past week (Shannyn Moore: These Christian churches wouldn’t vote for Jesus Christ | Shannyn Moore | is simply bizarre. While the believers in the myths of Christian America are possibly delusional (reserving judgement on the mythos proposed by Jack Balkin), their despisers, relying on the same or similar myths are no worthier.

Of course, as an aside, one is reminded of what a Richard Dawkins  might ask, “Why is anyone suggesting that we be guided in our modern ethical obligations solely on the basis of a deeply the massaged canon of a Roman demi-god cult which initially endorsed a continuation of stoning and other delightful practices and was largely devised as an instrument of the imperium?” Might we not come to the conclusion that putting people out to starve is wrong without trying to lift that instruction out of bizarre texts thousands of years old?

While I am indeed upset by the deplorable impact I think Jerry Prevo’s theology is haing on my community, celebrating a self-proclaimed forfeit over Dr. Prevo in a Christ-off will not have the effect of mending the ways of Prevo’s flock;  just to the contrary! Dudley’s “Broken Words” is a vibrant testimony to the response of the fundamentalist evangelical right to such controversy.  Persecution_Chagall_600 Nor will her screed push those in the “middle” away from the Puritanism of Prevo et al, as would any rational adult attracted by such teenage angst?  Would anyone pursuing a progressive agenda wish to really be associated with this tumultuous bellowing over whose musty magician does better magic? Is this even remotely appropriate?

No, no and, no.  The irony in “let my people go” is almost too much to bear…  It is just so unfortunate that “Christians” have lost contact with the allegorical tradition once extent in Christian thought. And it is that kind of public diatribe that also paints agnostics in a poor light (to the extent that others see “blue domers” as agnostics.) We may be able to do without religion (and do very well, thank you) but as E. J Dionne and others have noted, we don’t do well without community, and one of the functions of religion (perhaps the most important function of Jesus’ religion — and he was certainly and unabashedly NOT Christian) is the maintenance of community.

As far as I can see, the taunters and the tauntees are tools all.

A clash of iron; a season of irony

This is the season for vengeance, sayeth the “patriots”.  Over and over again Americans are assault with some form of prescription intended to stir our military loins in recollection of a the destruction of the Trade Towers. Most recently, I saw a primary school teacher accoutred in hand printed US Flag Tees with her students.  I have been thinking about that photo for almost a week now and am still not sure what the lesson was, nor am I sure that I want to know. Perhaps, in all the confusion, I am sure about one thing, that dressing kids up to wave the flag in this season is one of the most ironic images that I think I will ever live to see. How can one look at that image and not call to mind the images of children, murdered under the same flag.

ASD_kids_in_flagsLook on those kids (even the one picking his nose.) Not one of those cute children understand what took place on 9/11/73. Not one sees the stark irony in howling about the injustice of one 9/11 while ignoring the other.   Of my favorite authors, perhaps Vonnegut captures the irony of this season best. Like Vonnegut we seem to be masters of temporal distortion and disorientation, accomplished at auto-hypnosis and selective amnesia. As I sneak a peak in to the future, this is what I see for future Septembers,   “9/11” grief celebrations that extol military virtue not unlike Russian Mayday celebrations.

This year, the 40th anniversary of the American sponsored pusch that deposed the democratically elected President of Chile and ended with the installation of August Pinochet, takes place during ‘aseret yumei tschuvah”, the Jewish ten days of repentance between Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) with Yom Kippur taking place on shabbat. Amazingly enough, while the local School district still won’t allow activities on Sunday, it made a special arrangement to move high school football games to Thursday and Friday this week, indocating that it was hopeful that the Friday night game would be over by 8:00 pm (when Shabbat and Yom Kippur start.)

220px-Salvador_Allende_2The timing of the holidays this year poses much the same questions as the Holocaust did for our grandparents. Are there any innocents, and  can you forgive without being forgiving; can you expect atonement from others without owning your own misconduct?  What responsibility, if any, does the victim have in his own demise?  In a perfect world perhaps the taunt, “You asked for it,” would lose all meaning, but in the world in which I live, a world peopled by those with long memories, simmering resentment and deep anger, owning up to one’s responsibility seems unappetizing to people who wear the red, white and blue.

There are, I suppose, quite a few ways to look at “atonement’, but I tend to see it as requiring a willingness to forgive, as well as a effort seeking forgiveness. It is a process of reconciliation that is not addressed  by mailing greeting cards.

While Americans cry that they will never forget the trespasses of others, they might try remembering their own trespasses.