Category Archives: fundamentalsim

A Memorable Christmas

My most memorable Christmas happened in the early 1950s, when I was 11 or 12. At the top of my list to ‘Santa’ was  a Gilbert Microscope Set, with which I dreamed of discovering the wonders of the wee world cavorting below the range of my normal sight. Supposing this coveted treasure was in the largest package “Santa” had left under the tree, I saved it for last. I tried my best to hide my overwhelming disappointment when the microscope was not in the box, instead pajamas, slippers and a robe.

After we had devoted ourselves to the final rite of Christmas morning, burning the gift-wrap in the fireplace, I turned to open the can opener, screw-driver and broad blade of my new Boy Scout pocket knife, my second choice under the tree. As I laid it aside to enjoy a piece of candy from the sock hung on the mantel, my Dad, reaching behind the couch, uttered a surprised, “What’s this? Seems Santa has left something here!” It was, of course, the microscope set. My tears told Mom and Dad that I had, for however brief a time, been confronted with a lesson about expectations and disappointments.

By Spring the next year, the green, hinged case with the microscope, its glass slides and chemical reagents, was on a shelf in my room where it sat neglected until it was thrown/stored away probably about the time I graduated from High School.

This year an unexpected and new favorite present has arrived from the majority voters of Alabama. They have given us all the gift of hope that a republic being shredded by religious tribalism can begin to be restored by responsible citizens. They did not hide their gift from us though. Instead our own cynicism had kept their promise out of our sight. Our cynicism had insisted that a State that had not sent a Democrat to the US Senate for twenty-five years could not possibly put that nation’s best interest ahead of narrow party and pious loyalties. Their present shames our cynicism.

Now we must all make certain that we do not fiddle away our time with multi-bladed amusements but put to use the hope they have given us. We simply must not shelve their gift after a few weeks of marveling at it and let their bright hope drift into obscure memory. They have shown us that we can and must resist the further degradation of our values of justice and equality for all of us.

 

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Filed under ethics, fundamentalsim, politics, progressive, Republican, Resistance, Trump, voters

Jesus Saves

We have not been on the road for a couple of months but driving the highways and byways of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky when we were last traveling, I noticed that there are as many churches as there are the total of McDonalds and/or Dairy Queens. Nearly every one of these churches boasts an announcement assuring that ‘Jesus Saves.’ Since I am fairly certain that these notices are not meant as advertisements to encourage me to place my money in an interest-bearing account in one of the nearly equally ubiquitous lending/savings institutions along the way, one is moved to ask just what ‘Jesus Saves’ means?

The very number of these religious retail outlets offering ‘Jesus’ as a salvific event, consoling encounter or useful commodity leads me to assume that what is being offered is some kind of real advantage or bargain. This assumption comes from the similarities with other advertising signs regularly changed where economic specialties are offered. “Jesus Saves” appears to have a marketing appeal not unlike ‘2 Jr. Cheeseburgers/ $3.00.’

From what I know of the doctrines of the churches that advertise ‘Jesus Saves,’ a bargain is what is being offered. Apparently, sometime in the distant past, a couple of millennia at least, an itinerant teacher named Jesus invited people to follow him to participate in the emerging Kingdom of God, in which Kingdom the last would be first and the first last, in which Kingdom the meek, humble, poor and vulnerable would be highly valued and most esteemed.

This Topsy-turvy message of the itinerant teacher so threatened the civil and religious establishments of the time that he was publicly executed as a common criminal, by crucifixion.

Apparently, within a very short time, those who were adherents to the crucified itinerant’s values could see that there was going to be very little market for a story that insisted on championing the poor, the marginal and the vulnerable to one’s own self-destruction. So, they took up with another story, to wit, that the Crucified Itinerant was a god-incarnation whose death was a sacrificial atonement that offered salvific effect for everyone who deserved damnation but who could by saying over and over again, ‘Jesus Saves,’ gain a redemption from eternal punishment and receive instead eternal bliss, known commonly as ‘heaven.’

Down the street from many of these ‘Jesus Saves’ churches are other buildings identifying themselves as another kind of ‘Jesus follower type.’ If you were to inquire within these buildings, you could learn that the parent institution of these churches claims to have founded the whole enterprise. They are different though. They seldom have sign boards out front, except to announce times of ‘Mass’ and ‘Confession.’ The only advertising in front of these other churches is a statue or graphic depiction of the execution of the Crucified Itinerant.

My guess is that this latter type of church does not attract as many devotees as the ‘Jesus Saves’ type, except maybe if you are born into this group, you are inclined to stay. In any event, this other type of church offers the heaven bargain too.

What would happen to all these churches, I wonder, if they were stripped of the theological trappings they have entertained themselves with for these millennia and were left with only the notion that championing the poor and the marginalized was indeed, in itself, a way of life, not only noble and worth doing, but salvific.

I mean, imagine that ‘Jesus Saves’ could mean that existential salvation is to be found in humility and vulnerability!

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