Monday, December 19, 2005

Christian Battering Rams


As most of you know, I am a Christian--spiritually born-again, accepting and proclaiming Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I am also a non-supporter of the Bush administration, and live in a "red" state. That makes me something of a minority, both in my community and in my own church. But that's OK, because my personal church home is a very comfortable place because of the well-observed separation of church and state there. Our pastor doesn't politicize, nor should he. I don't want politics involved in my worship, nor do I want matters of faith imposing on matters of government. I DO want freedom to worship as I see fit.

What is weighing heavily upon my mind of late are what I am calling the "Battering Ram Christians." I'm looking at you, Focus on the Family, American Family Association, James Dobson, Pat Robertson (ugh), Concerned Women for America, et al. Why not look to examples such as Billy Graham, Rick Warren, and Jimmy Carter? And do you realize who started all this "War on Christmas" tempest in a teapot? Bill O'Reilly. That's right--from FOX News, "Your Source," as reported in a recent episode of "The Simpsons"... "For Evil." This Bill
O'Reilly, paragon of Christian values.

What I want to say is, KNOCK IT OFF. Just stop. Shut UP, already. Take a deep breath, and STEP BACK. Realize that you are doing more harm than good to Christianity and its real mission. Did The Great Commission mention anything about protesting dollmakers or boycotting retailers? If Jesus were here now, resuming his work, would he be more interested in A.) SpongeBob and Tinky-Winky, or B.) bringing ever more people into his fold to enjoy eternal bliss at his side? Would His primary concern be to wage a war of hatred and intolerance against homosexuals and peoples of other faiths or of no faith...or would he be among them, ministering and witnessing unto those very people?

Would Jesus be more concerned over man-made labels such as "liberal" and "conservative", or over bringing all people together in a spirit of love and compassion? YES, He would desire to bring all people to the Father, through Him, but I doubt that the battering ram favored by many fundamentalists today would be among of His tools of choice.

This idea was perfectly illustrated on last night's episode of, of all things, the animated T.V. series, "The Family Guy." Peter's father, a devout, near-maniacally observant Catholic, is visiting, and once again berating his son for marrying a Protestant and for not having baptised the infant Stewie. Brian (the talking dog) asks him:

"You really think splashing (air quotes) magic water on Stewie will keep him outta hell?"

Grandpa: "Watch that kinda talk, or you'll getcher heathen head SMACKED!"

Brian: "Well, that's very Christian: 'Believe what I say, or I'll HURT you.' "

Grandpa: "NOW you're gettin' it!" (smacks Brian off his chair with a Bible)

I just think that we, as Christians, could be of a lot more use in this world and beyond if we did a bit more ministering and witnessing--to everyone--and a bit less "smacking of heathen heads."

And as for this "War on Christmas?" Squash that noise, too. Just stop it. Don't throw a fit about the use of "Xmas," instead go and learn how it came about, and that 'X' is the first letter in the Greek word for 'Christ,' and came to be a symbol for Christ. Wanna learn more about Christmas and its traditions? This is an excellent place to start.

In short, in this season, my fellow Christians, celebrate, contemplate...consider deeply the meaning of the occasion we are marking, arbitrary as its date may be. Follow the example of Mary, who "...kept these things, and pondered them in her heart."

I love that.

26 comments:

  1. A point well worth making; and you made it well.

    Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, and helping others find that relationship.

    There is only one thing God is taking out of this world, people.

    All else is noise.

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  2. I'm not Christian, but wow, you said some things that needed to be said, badly. I've been less than patient with good Christians in the past because the battering rams had treated me horribly.

    But now I'm finding that there are many beautiful Christians who can love me for who I am and not feel like they're trying to convert me every time we talk. It's rather enlightening I must admit. I support your choice of faith and I say more power to ya... not something I could have said before.

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  3. Sing it.

    For all its coarse humor and irreverence, Family Guy hits the nail on the head more often than not.

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  4. Bless you, Belinda. I thought it was against blogger rules to write about Jesus and not mention the ACLU. If you get throwed off, will you write us?

    I remember a conversation about this at my church in Atlanta, that it was very bad evangelism to place Jesus as the standard against different kinds of people. That wasn't what he meant by "so must the Son of Man be held up."

    I really think the key passage might be Acts 10:28
    "And he [Peter] said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." (KJV)

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  5. Wow - what a great post. I think you said it best. One of my close friends is devout Christian also and she has a very difficult time with all of this fundamentalism/evanglism that she says seems to have hijacked her religion (Goodness as a Muslim I know that feeling, oh do I ever!).
    I think people like Billy Graham and Jimmy Carter represent the true spirit of Christianity.
    If you ask me this war on Christmas is a just a ruse to try to rally the President's supporters and bring up GW's ratings. First it was the homosexual issue now they are going to use Christmas, I see Karl Rove's manipulations continue...

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  6. Some of my best friends are Christians. And I love them because of, not in spite of it -- they believe the more you live like Jesus the better a Christian you are, instead of following the "believe me or I'll hurt you" Battering Ram style. Makes them good people that way.

    I always have big love for people like you with a strong faith and yet also a big heart. I guess it's hard for some to manage both.

    Also. O'Reilly can suck it.

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  7. Jesus was a Democrat.

    You rock, Belinda :-)

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  8. Belinda
    You have taught me so much about compassion and humanity

    I thank you for that, and more

    You rock, and some!

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  9. I'm so grateful for your message!!!

    WarKo
    Chile, "in the end of the world"

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  10. Celena & Jon--thanks.

    Allan--Glad you stopped by, for I am enjoying your blog now! And yes, in today's world, the noise-to-signal ratio is quite high. Good input.

    Crystal--thank you, and there is a lesson there for all of us. It is in the nature of Christianity to share our faith, and plant seeds of faith in others, and hopefully add to our eternal kingdom...but that goal is not well-accomplished with a steam-roller.

    Dan--yes, that whole episode of FG was fairly on-target!

    doug--I was hoping you'd chime in. I pray there never comes a day when I need to invoke the aclu to discuss Jesus in my own space! Good additional input from you.

    VG--It has fascinated me over the last few months, as I discovered how very much you and I have in common in our faith and our lives. Thank you for that. And I agree with your observation about "diversionary tactics," naturally.

    Supa--coming from one with a "big heart," that means a lot. And yes, Bill O'Reilly CAN suck it. Did you click all three links on his name? Whoa.

    laurie--YOU rock! I think Jesus would have declared himself an independent, and stayed well clear of the muck of politics!

    Pia--You have taught me much, my (your words) "New York Jew" friend!

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  11. Warko--thank you, and thanks for visiting all the way from the end of the world!! You are the 100th person on my Frappr map, and for that you must be rewarded somehow!

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  12. AND--I hope everyone clicked on the Jimmy Carter link. It's his own very timely words from just a couple of days ago, about the separation of church and state.

    And did anyone else notice, in the first Bill O'Reilly link, that he is talking about commiting lewd acts upon this young woman in the shower with a falafel? I found that just hysterically delicious.

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  13. great, great post- I wish we heard more messages of tolerance like this from all faiths...
    I'm not a christian but by the end of your post I was ready to shout hallelejiah! :-)

    you have a fantabulous blog xxx

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  14. In the words of the great Margaret Cho, regarding the hatred and intolerance spread by "battering ram Christians", I can't wait for Jesus to come back and say THATS NOT WHAT I MEANT!!!!!

    Great Post

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  15. Belinda, did you know I worked at The Carter Center for six years? I was as proud when Jimmy C. won the Nobel as he looked. Of course, our first close contact was when he shoved me because I was standing stupidly in a doorway he wanted people to use. That, and I once let his Aunt Sissy spit orange pips into my hand.

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  16. Um.... just how cool are you, anyway??

    I LOVE this post.... thanks for the smile.

    **HUG**

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  17. The exact reasons you addressed are part of why I've lost a lost of respect for the Christian religion.
    But you & a few other bloggers have helped me to acknowledge that there still are some true Christians whose desire is to serve Jesus & not hate others.
    That was a very beautiful post & especially appropriate right now. I consider it an honor to know you.
    Have a very merry Christmas.

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  18. b, you rock. i'm not a christian, and those fundies just bunch my undies. this post perfectly sums up the vibe i got from your writing that kept me reading after i found out you're a christian. i'm sorry i let the battering rams give me pause.

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  19. check this out:

    http://falafelfactor.blogspot.com/

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  20. Belinda,

    LOVED this post...so much that I copied it and sent it to Paul Smith who wrote back that he enjoyed reading it too!

    Lisa

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  21. diane--you can shout "hallelujah." I won't tell! I think that would be considered a non-denominational expletive anyway.

    Britt--Yes, and I think He'd pretty much say it to EVERY ONE of us, because I seriously doubt there's any human being on earth who has it all right.

    Doug--why am I not surprised? Has the Aunt Sissy story been told on "Doug Drones On?" You are SO neat!

    Tony--I am liquid NITROGEN, Baby! Ha.

    Jane--thanks. The feeling is mutual. I must admit I feel a little pang when I read that you are "no longer" a Christian, but what you exhibit, what you put forth of yourself, and how giving you are of yourself to others...well, that's what we should all strive for.

    jen--thanks. I didn't put it "out there" at first, because I saw how other bloggers who I know to be Christians, didn't, but then the more the "fundies" went afield, the more pressure I felt to at least show a glimpse of what I feel the majority of us are about. While my political leanings may not jibe with many of my church members, I can guarantee that my feelings about my fellow man and how we should treat them DO jibe with the "real" majority. Why are the whackos always the loudest?

    laurie--that is hysterical. Seems as though it would fall apart in the shower, but what do I know?

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  22. lisa--that is high praise!! thanks, friend.

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  23. I like your skewering of "battering ram" types, Belinda.

    Jesus knew precisely what he believed, but he didn't spend his time trying to reform the Roman government or organizing protest movements outside the local synagogue.

    Instead, he aimed to win people's hearts. He worked to persuade, because he knew that it takes more than social reform to change the soul, and make us fit for heaven. We should take our cue from Jesus.

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  24. I've always been baffled by the typical evangelical Christian, filled with smug religiousity and demonstrating nothing that would make me think "Jesus" is the way. I'm an agnostic with Jewish tendancies and that's not going to change. But you'd think the logical approach would be to demonstrate, not TEll ME what Christ had done in their life. I.e., but showing abiding patience and goodwill toward others.

    Never seen it, yet (with obvious exception of the blogger at Ninja Poodles.)

    Anyway, the whole War on Christmas is so tiresome. The Oval Office is occupied by a Christian and Christians are "oppressed?" Puh-lease.

    I, un-Christian me, have a Christmas tree and one of my favorite decorations is a little creche my mom (an atheist) got me.

    War on Christmas. Zzzz.

    Awesome posting.

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