Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Religion, Not Politics

I found this on a friend of a friend's myspace. I went ahead and googled it, and found that this image is approved by more than one person. Needless to say, I was offended greatly. If anyone thinks this country is a theocracy, they should take a hard look at a genuine theocracy. I won't talk politics too much in this blog, but I will never shy away from religion.

The event pointed to by this link is a genuine violent theocracy. Notice the removal of individual property, and teaching religion as an exclusive alternative to secular philosophy.

When I was in high school, I went to bat for my Muslim friends. I was called an imperialist by self-conscious atheists, and on many more occasions, a Nazi. I defended the rights of Palestinians in a community with a large percentage of Jews. There were a lot of Christians who liked to call me Hitler Youth, too. That happened a lot after I publicly disagreed with a gospel prayer-concert held in the auditorium. They called it black history month; I called it establishment. I still do. That stand made me very unpopular, but if you know me, you know I'll stick to my ideals until I independently determine those ideals to be wrong. Hurt me, go ahead. By my fruits, God will know me. He will judge me, not the rest of you.

I changed my ideals on September 11, 2001. I was three and a half years removed from high school, getting over a C-Span addiction, and had just been told by my brother that they took down our towers. Immediately, I looked around the Muslim world. There was no outrage. The mullahs were not disgusted at the despicable acts of murder perpetrated in their god's name. They were leading celebrations in the streets. Until confronted with obvious evidence otherwise, I considered Islam to be a religion with some good ideas, but some very deep flaws concerning women's rights. I thought that when push came to shove, Islam would own its mistakes, and make amends. Instead, at the first sight of weakness in what the cartographer at the top of the page calls "Jesusland," they took to the streets in celebration. That was when I decided to take a longer, harder look at the Koran. Read the ninth Sura. It pretty much says it all. I don't need to put words in Muhammad's mouth; he poisoned his opinion himself.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That is the law I live by. I don't make a complicated scoring system based on 1/40th of the incomes of my neighbors that follow a different path, nor do I have a list of contracts drawn up set to expire and coordinated with my firearm. Let me go to church, and I'm cool. Killing in the name of the Lord is not something I find tolerable. If someone with different religious ideas wants to live next door to me, that's cool. I'm not going to interfere with his journey to and from God. I am not a minister. I am a poet.

Back before the State of Maryland decided to limit my driver's liscense, I drove past a mosque from time to time on my way to my brother's house. I didn't honk my horn, carry around a crucifix in front of them, or burn crescent-laden flags for their displeasure. I just kept on driving. That's what free exercise is all about. We have it here in "Jesusland" whether a bunch of inconsiderate jerks want to admit it or not.

After my change in opinion, I get called a Zionist and an American imperialist pig. I also hear a lot of people call me a "fundie," whatever the hell that means, and they use the word "Christian" like an insult. As far as I'm concerned, that just makes things clearer. I don't want to be a warrior for God; he doesn't need my help there. I want to be a good person with a good heart; I want to believe in the fashion I choose to believe. I want transubstantiation, public confession, adult baptism by immersion, and a place that lets me do all those things. Right now, I have that. So if I love you, and you call me a bigot, so be it. I loved you before those words left your lips, and I'll love you afterwards. If you're a friend from high school who practices Islam with or without your family, you're still a friend of mine. I had to be born again myself, and I was raised in the surroundings I choose now. My journey to God would be a lot harder and a lot longer if it hadn't been beneath my nose the whole time.

So what of "Jesusland?" Take a good look around, people. It's getting near Christmas time, and the Salvation Army is collecting money in buckets. There's no gun, bayonet, or even a sermon behind those buckets; there's just a bell. You can choose to give, or you can choose to keep for yourself. By those fruits, the Lord will know you. I'm not going to break open the bucket to dust for fingerprints and count, not even in "Jesusland."


Anonymous said...

Stop right there, and do NOT let anyone call you a Fundie! You are not a Fundie. They are talking about Fundementalists, which from what I have heard, take the bible very literally, right down to stoning and outspoken hatred towards others.

Thomas Jackson said...

I take the Bible more literally than anyone else I know. When Cain asks God "Am I my brother's keeper?" I take it as a genuine question.

A lot of people go wrong with the epistles of Paul. They lose sight of the fact that those letters are specific letters to specific churches, none of which remain in their Biblical form. Paul isn't talking about everyone in Corinthians; he's talking about that church in particular. Furthermore, just because Paul says something doesn't absolutely make that statement correct.

Even Peter, the first pope, denies his relationship with Christ in the scriptures to save his own neck. Human beings are deeply flawed. We don't deserve God's love, but we have it anyway. We're not supposed to throw stones in a glass house, so I avoid doing so. We're also supposed to turn the other cheek. I try to do that, but usually fail.

However, the one area where I follow Christ well is my insistence to treat others as I would have them treat me. I can be harsh, but I like to think that I'm harsh on myself, too.

I also like to think I'm not a follower of Paul, Peter, James, or any other mortal man. I'm a follower of Christ. I look to the Beatitudes for guidance, and I look to the epistles of Paul only for context. Paul's word isn't law to me; it's just a good set of ideas to use as I see fit.