vendredi, avril 29, 2005

Where is the Outcry Against the Noisy Gong and Clanging Cymbal?, or: What Matters More than Faith?

To me, the absolute center of Christianity is embodied love. In my reading of the Bible and in my experience, that's it...hook, line, and sinker. In Genesis it is God's love embodied in Creation, with every part dependent on every other part for perfect function. When human beings couldn't seem to keep their part of the harmony going, God embodied love more specifically in human form, in the person of Jesus. Jesus thus becomes both the embodiment and the revelation of God's love. Christians consider themselves to be the Body of Christ...those who try to continue to embody God's love in and for the world. If it is not done in love, it is a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. It matters even more than faith, Paul says. When Jesus is asked in Luke 10 what must be done to inherit eternal life, the answer is to love. Love is at the center of Creation, because God is love. Embodied love is at the heart of Christianity because that's who Jesus is.

The Reverend Anne Robertson


You know who was a cool guy? Adlai Stevenson.

So, let’s pretend that it is 1952 or 1956 (by the way, I probably could not be married to my wife whose ancestry is traceable to Europe whereas mine is traceable to Africa and by the way, the majority of Americans would have easily passed constitutional anti-miscegenation measures – let me know if my point there is too subtle), and let’s pretend that Adlai Stevenson won the presidency either in 1952 or in 1956.

The reason for the hypothetical is simple: Adlai Stevenson was a Unitarian Universalist and so am I.

For fun, let’s pretend that Adlai Stevenson’s domestic and international policies and agenda were exactly the same as President Bush’s – except for one change: whenever Bush uses the word Christian, or promotes policies that benefit Christian churches, assume Stevenson promotes Unitarian Universalism instead.

My point is simple. The hue and cry from the UU community and against Stevenson's policies would be deafening. In fact, I would expect that the church would publicly protest against his policies and that they would undergo a massive effort to demonstrate how they were inconsistent with our beliefs and teachings. I personally would demand that he disassociate his policies from UU teachings, and that he state publicly that his policies are not guided by our inspired by UU principles.

The absence of this kind of outcry from the Christian community is telling. I’ll concede at the outset that Christianity is a varied religion with billions of adherents who share the same core beliefs but who deviate wildly on specifics. For example, there is a vast difference between Catholics and the Church of God in Christ, between Methodists and evangelicals and (these days) between Episcopalians and Anglicans. But there is also a tremendous amount of common ground. Being a Christian sets you up for a lot of nit picking from non-Christians such as myself, and I would be very forgiving if Bush were being nitpicked. But the response from most Christians (there are exceptions) has been silence or boisterous, enthusiastic and deeply, deeply ignorant, deeply ignorant assent.

Where is the Christian outcry against:

The war against Iraq?

The abuses at Abu Ghraib?

The lies supporting the war against Iraq?

Bush’s behavior in the campaign (Swift Boat Veterans for WHAT)?

Bush’s non-response to Rwanda?

Bush’s treatment of the poor?

Bush’s favoritism of the wealthy?

Bush’s treatment of the sick?

Bush’s (foreign and domestic) AIDS policy?

Bush’s treatment of the hungry?

Bush’s treatment of the meek?

The ostracism (and sometimes hatred), in the name of Christianity, of gay and lesbian people?

[Work through that for a second - ostracizing and hating in the name of Jesus Christ.]

Bush’s environmental policy (which favors corporations over the earth (the latter being God’s gift to us which we are charged with supporting, the former being a scourge and a menace))?

Where is it?

I could go on and on, but I won’t. Let’s just say that there is much in our current administration’s policies and behavior that I see as dishonest, murderous, prideful, non-loving, judgmental, ignoble to God (claiming to be a Christian for political gain, blatantly using Christ as a marketing tool) and, most importantly, unchristian.

And not unchristian in the details of Christianity - which day is the sabbath or whether Popes are infallible or not (there is respectful room for disagreement on those points) - but unchristian in the fundamentals: LOVE your neighbor. LOVE God. LOVE.

Bush has made it abundantly clear that he is a man of Christian faith. His faith guides his policies and his decisions. I wonder who would make the case that Bush is a man of Christian love. Who would argue that his policies are derived from embodied love?

I'm asking sincerely.