19 Concluding Response to Georgia

Georgia, you mentioned about how much liberal politics and religion had dominated family e mails.  Whether or not it has dominated, I would like to explain my heavy contribution, if that is necessary.

I have observed over the years that fundamentalist-sounding language was a regular part of e mails exchanged with family.  That is the language that our family is familiar with and it is the underpinning of much of our values. It is to be expected that many of the family have gotten to love and acceptance of others by that path, and others have gotten there by other paths.  (I don’t think anyone of us would be accused of being uncaring of other people, although I, at least, can be accused of having faults, generally or in specific instances.)  In recent years I have noted an increasing globalization and with that the need for us to understand that all the world, whatever their ethnicity, religion, culture or even sexual orientation are loved and accepted by God as they are.  If we cannot accept that, we will never be able to get along.  I cannot escape the message of Matthew 25:31-46: it is not just a proclamation that one loves another that brings one into the kingdom, but acts of compassion for all those in need, for whatever reason, those in prison for whatever reason, even those deserving prison because they did bad things.  Jesus, in that passage does not make entry into the kingdom conditioned upon right belief but upon loving action, compassionately drawing the outsider into the circle of loving community.  This story further interests me because those who were righteous and were told to enter the kingdom were surprised: “when did we see you?”  They clearly did not act compassionately “in order to be saved,” but out of genuine love.  And those who thought they belonged in the kingdom but were told “to go to Hell” are also surprised and ask the same question, “when did we see you.”  To me the message is inescapable: that compassion is what brings one into the kingdom of heaven, without regard to race, orientation, creed or even religion.  I don’t know what the judgment would be if we are compassionate to some but not to others.  Since it is our lot to be forever working on sensitivity and compassion for others,  I suspect that it is not just “either/or” but that there is some degree of becoming in that process and, just as in life, we get second chances to “get it right” and a good dose of grace.

I have noted a polarization of the Christian community along lines of “right belief,” often used as a justification for excluding some from what ought to be, in my opinion, our inclusive and loving communities.   The world cannot thrive, to my mind, with such judgmental exclusion.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an expression of this polarization on the basis of a sense of entitlement bestowed by God Almighty, which, in that view, trumps compassion and justifies clinging to things.

I voted for President Bush (both of them).   When the second was elected upon the decision of the Supreme Court, there were those who supported Gore who were upset, but in a short while the rancor evaporated from public view.  When Bush led us into two wars, he was supported by both parties and by the public.  The people of the US backed him and the Supreme Court win to election was no longer an issue.  When he used religious labels of evil to mark rogue nations, I thought it was a mistake.  I saw it at risk of falling into the same line of false sense of altruistic commitment as when Islamic terrorists took down airplanes to sure death of all on board with cries of “Allah is great!”  I became concerned with some of his cavalier responses to serious situations, such as “bring it on.”  It concerned me that we were alienating much of the world community that we, in truth, are part of and that we ought to be in community with.  But, I didn’t begin bashing Bush or preaching the imminent demise of our country because of what I believed to be some unwise positions.  In fact, I also wondered if indeed we were fortunate in the wars we found ourselves in that we had experienced people guiding the President such as Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powel.  Time will tell if we were fortunate or if that was the beginning of our path to demise.  And that is how I feel with President Obama – time will tell.  But I get frequent e mails, not just of the usual political banter and humor, but mean-spirited and claiming that we are heading to ruin.  I hear mean-spirited political commentary on the radio and on TV.  I see lies as a means to oppose legislation to reform health care instead of honest, lively debate that our framers intended.  Now, I see many of the same labels that Bush used for rogue nations being applied not abroad but to our own president, who, like it or not, has been elected as our leader.

I believe that I should use much of the same language of our religious tradition – my roots and inspiration, also – not to undermine the faith of others, but to call for compassion, as Jesus taught.  And so, I have been willing to bring to the light some of those who have been judged as undeserving of our compassion, not just an idea of such people, but real people I know.  These people bear good fruits, and Jesus said good fruit does not fall from a bad tree.  “By their fruits you will know them.”  I know there are other scriptures that say that right belief saves, but if the Bible is inerrant, then those beliefs must not violate these commands to be compassionate to the outcasts, to all our neighbors.  I happen to have a different view of the scriptures and of their truth.  But that is not important to my mind – Jesus calls all those who show compassion to others into the Kingdom, whatever the path that takes them there.  That is just what I believe, but I respect that you get there by another path.

Love, Rob

I have spoken out not to divide us, but to strengthen our community of love and to enrich it with even the outcasts of our society.

 

Next blog post: 1 On Gay Marriage: Love and Do Not Judge               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/488

19 Concluding Response to Georgia

“Fundamental” Problems

I am thinking of the awful fruits of the massacre of innocents in Norway by a Christian fundamentalist gunman.  How is this evil different from that of the Muslim extremists in the 9-11 atrocities?  How is it different from the attacks of the Christian fundamentalist and political right against the GLBT community?

At least in my lifetime, “Christian fundamentalism” has been used in reference to Christians who believe the Bible to be dictated by God to humans who wrote it into books that, by Divine guidance, came to compose the present Bible.  Being God-dictated, they believe the Bible to be literally true, both historically and scientifically.   Catholic fundamentalists may expand that dictation to include the Appocrapha and Mormon fundamentalists may expand it further to include the Book of Mormon.  Likewise, fundamentalist Muslims and Jews consider their scripture sacred and literally true as they read it.

“Fundamental” is perhaps an unfortunate choice of words.  I would consider that the word, fundamental, would describe my own view of the Bible, the “word of God,” and the “will of God.”  I seek to get to the core of the messages of the Bible, some of which might be a mix of history, reflection of the  writer or editors’ observations, inspiration, ignorance or even prejudice.

To my mind, the core of Jesus’ teaching that is fundamental to my Christian belief and practice is expressed in these statements which provide: 1)  a simple command: “Love God and your neighbor as yourself;” 2)  A measure by which you can recognize the validity of actions on the claim of faith: “By their fruits you will know them.”  3) how we show our love of Jesus: “Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me;”    and lastly, 4) the present and eternal reward: “The kingdom of Heaven is at hand . . . enter into your reward.”

I will accept the current use of “fundamentalism.”  Jimmy Carter addressed it and its consequences across various religions when asked by Trista Tippet on National Public Radio’s Speaking of Faith why so much violence in the post Cold War era has a religious dimension.  He responded:

I think it’s because of fundamentalists. Fundamentalism is a characteristic of dominant males who, first of all, subjugate women and derogate women’s rights. Secondly, an aspect of their fundamentalism is that they assume that they have a rare or unique relationship with God Almighty, whatever god they define, and their beliefs, therefore, are ordained by God. And since their beliefs are God’s beliefs, they are infallible. They cannot make a mistake or acknowledge a mistake. Anyone who disagrees with them, by definition, is wrong because ‘the disagreement is with me and with God.’ And being wrong, you are inferior and, in extreme cases, you are considered to be subhuman. And so that’s where violence erupts and condemnation erupts and value of a human life within a person who disagrees with you has little or no value. And that’s where the violence comes out, and that’s where the unnecessary war comes out, and that’s where what we define as terrorism comes out.

I think of the fear and hateful language and acts by American “Fundamentalist Christians” against the GLBT community.  That isn’t so different, other than in lethal scope, than the horror and pain inflicted by that Christian fundamentalist in Norway.

 

Memorial to the Norwegian Victims of Judgment, Hate, and Fearhttps://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/211

“Fundamental” Problems

A Fundamentalist Protestant’s Condemnation of Homosexual Christians

See http://www.ovrlnd.com/FalseDoctrine/Gay_Christians.html for a fundamentalist Response to the ‘Gay Christian’ Movement.

Scripture

John 8:3 –  Woman Caught in Adultery

Matthew 18:21-22 – Forgive

 Discuss

We often hear Christians soften the message of “neither do I condemn you” by emphasis on the last parting statement, “Go and sin no more.”  If that person, in our judgement, does sin again, do we then have the right to condemn the person?  To punish?  What is the meaning of forgiving 70 X 7?

Who is really affected by the act?  Whose job is it to forgive?  What is the significance of forgiving?  For the forgiver?  For the forgiven?

What then is the significance of judging what is sinful if we are not to judge others?  Does it mean that we must judge what is right action for us, but not judge for others?

 

Next blog post: Dr. Dobson’s Position on Homosexuality                  https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/39

A Fundamentalist Protestant’s Condemnation of Homosexual Christians