Thursday, October 4, 2012

Striving Against the Right Wing in Christianity

I don't know how Christians think they are supposed to reach the unbelieving world when they constantly belittle and disrespect the unbelievers in their own country.

 Forget for a second, the ideology.  Forget the opinion that business should be of primary importance in the economy.  Forget the view that government should operate with no debt.  Forget the idea that greed is good or that poor people are moochers or that black people only vote for Obama because he's black.  Forget all that.

How do you reach someone?  How do you get someone to come over to your point of view.  How do you dispel myths about your position and draw people into your enlightened way of being?  Do you do it through insults?  Do you mock them into seeing things your way?

 Jesus said you are supposed to love them and by your love, they will know that you are his disciples.  And he was all about making new disciples.  'Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you, and I will be with you always.'

For some reason, and I can't figure out why this is the case, but people who call themselves Christians are making right asses of themselves today.  Assume for a minute that their political opponents, the Democrats are among the unbelievers they should be so desperate to lead to Christ.  Then why are they so vehement in their ridicule and dishonorable speech?

 I don't say these things lightly.  I have struggled with calling myself a Christian for several years now, going back and forth.  Today one of my pastors compared our president Barack (a name which means blessing) Obama to Chewbacca from Star Wars.  Why are Christians so vicious today?  It's one thing to disagree with people, I do it all the time.  But there is no need for this name calling and flatly dishonorable behavior.

Are you against abortion?  Great!  That's fantastic, but how can you be most effective?  Is it by standing outside an abortion clinic hurling insults at poor women who come trying to escape their problems?  I'll tell you this.  Pro-life liberals get way more positive attention and frankly, they get way more done.  The enemy is not going to let you into his castle to pry the ears of his advisers.  But if he's not your enemy, he'll let you in and offer you a meal and let you try to change his mind.

 Paul had some great things to say about how you reach people.

"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became mas one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings."

Is it possible that Paul in his wisdom may have said something like "to the Democrats, I became as a Democrat for the sake of the gospel that I may share with them in its blessings"?  That sounds like something he might say, if he were a republican which I dare say he wouldn't be.

I am in a tough spot.  I have been in a tough spot for a number of years.  I feel uncomfortable where I am.  Though my service is strenuous and valuable, I feel like I'm working with the wrong people.  I have become more and more withdrawn because the words of my 'friends' and associates are so repulsive to me.  I feel like it's all coming to a head.  I feel like if my small group leader says that 'all these regulations are in the way' again, I'm going to burst.  And I'll tell you this much, if my church participates in 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' I will be leaving it.  Because you don't draw people to the truth with hateful and insulting language.  You don't win people to your side with partisan bickering.  Jesus hung out with hookers and tax cheats, sailors and radicals.  And all he told them to do was stop sinning.  That's it.  Not that they were bad people.  Not that they were ruining their country.  Not that they were a drag on society.  And he didn't compare them to hairy creatures whose speech nobody understands.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Collectivism vs. Individualism

 I have mentioned a number of times one of the main drivers that pushed me left was hearing Rush Limbaugh elaborate on the 'greed is good' thesis. It thoroughly disgusted me in a way I remember to this day. I remember what I was doing when I heard it, and I remember where I was when I told my other people about it. The singular repulsion to the idea has weighed on my mind that much to this day.

I believe in a fundamentally collectivist society. Let me be clear, that by fundamentally, I mean by the real definition 'A leading or primary principle, rule, law, or article, which serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part'. I don't mean pure communism, or pure anything. It is self evident that human nature directs itself to operate both collectively and individually, but collectively is its basic nature outside of a very small proportion of the species which finds anything but total solitude to be unacceptable. We naturally group into cities, towns, communities, churches, races, tribes, socioeconomic rungs on the ladder. There are so many groups to which we align ourselves that it makes me believe that it is the inherent nature of humanity. It goes back to the Middle East or Africa from which humans arose. A single person will be taken in the night by a jaguar. A group can keep watch while others sleep, hunt for food while the night watchers sleep, and designate a few to guard the women and children, what is necessary to pass along the genes of the species.

At the same time, we have a drive to achieve, for one to be better than the other. Some wish to be leaders of men. Some become drunk with power. We want to work to make things better. We dream of more stuff, or better stuff, or a prettier mate. We acquire things of value and sell them. We acquire things of little value and work to make them of more value. There is an inherent nature of selfishness, at least some, and naturally some more than others. But ultimately, that selfishness is still relative to the collective, the group. A man cannot become blindingly wealthy without utilizing the work of other men.  Ayn Rand's philosophy was that the man at the top didn't get paid for all his genius because he had to pay those below him. The reverse is true. He cannot make anything without denying something from those below him. The optimum, I say, is a collaborative and symbiotic relationship where he pays them well for their ability to make him more money and both parties are happy to be providing their part and both think the other is fairly compensated for their work.  Or better yet, the company is owned by its employees and they work together to make a profit they all can share.  That's the heart of socialism, returning the means of production to the control of the workers.

But that's not the attitude we have in the US. Our attitude is to use the measure of the market to extract the very last dollar we can get, the last penny that a commodity is worth, the company car, the company jet, deny the fans of the movie the opportunity to see their favorite actor star in the sequel to squeeze another million out of the contract. It goes both ways, the employer, the employee, the spouse, the government, labor and management.

Funny thing. In the US, they say you are unique. Nobody is like you. You have something special to offer. In Scandinavia, they say you are the same. Lots of people have been through what you have. Lots of people have had to do what you're doing. Again, I say, both are true. But inherently, our good as a people comes from working with the group, guiding the group, shaping the group so the group as a whole can achieve what loners cannot.