Friday, July 13, 2007

The Second Coming

In the comments to the last post Lulu mentioned the differences between the actions of the people who disrupted the prayer in the Senate, and her understanding of Christianity as a youngster. Beth pointed out the fact that people like that seem to overlook some of the central teachings of Jesus.

Both excellent points.

Here's a snippet from the Operation Save America press release that illustrates what we're talking about perfectly:

"...They stood on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! There were three in the audience with the courage to stand and proclaim, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’ "

According to this story from Reuters, the protestors used the word "abomination" repeatedly. Now, here's what gets me. All this talk about "abomination" and the "Thou shalt have no other gods" bit is all Old Testament. Angry, fire and brimstone vengeful God stuff. It kills me when self-proclaimed "Christians" repeatedly cite the most bloodthirsty, angry parts of the Old Testament, while ignoring some of the most basic tenets of Christianity. Here's a version of the Beatitudes, the opening of Jesus' sermon on the Mount:

-Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
-Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land.
-Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
-Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
-Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
-Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
-Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
-Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Get a load of that--not an abomination to be seen. Go to Matthew Chapter 7, and read the rest of it. Here's the two that really jump out at me:

Matthew 7:1. "Judge not, that you may not be judged."

Matthew 7:12. "All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets." Recognize this one? It's commonly referred to as the Golden Rule; you know, "do unto others as you'd have others do unto you?"

So what part of all this don't these Kristians get? What am I missing? How frustrating, to the point of infuriating, is it for people of faith to constantly be identified with the worst and most intolerant of their fundamentalists? How sad that the kindest, most loving and moderate voices of faith are repeatedly shouted down.

When I was reading the comments to the last post I was reminded of a couple of lines from the Yeats poem "The Second Coming." I find myself, especially in the past few years, reading and re-reading this poem. I've highlighted the phrase I was reminded of:

The Second Coming

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

-W.B. Yeats


Johnny Yen said...

I'm reminded of a line from the great Woody Guthrie song "Jesus Christ"

This song was written in New York City,
Of rich man, preachers, and slaves;
Yes, if Jesus was to preach like He preached in Galillee,
They would lay Jesus Christ in His grave.

Chris said...

Couldn't agree more, Bubs! I would think that avid Christians would be more interested in what Jesus taught and would recognize his words supersede anything written prior. They really have a tough time with the beatitudes and the whole golden rule thing. Jesus didn't leave a lot of gray area in those babies.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Stunningly good post. I take back anything I may have written about you in public restroom stalls.

justacoolcat said...

Just goes to prove; people of all types and walks of life are idiots.

lulu said...

Thank you. *THIS* is what I grew up with in church. And you quoted Yeats. You know how I feel about Yeats.

Tenacious S said...

A little Yeats and a little grace. I think we need more of these things. Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

From a young Bobby Dylan's God on our side: And you never ask questions/When God's on your side...In a many dark hour/I've been thinkin' about this/That Jesus Christ/Was betrayed by a kiss/But I can't think for you/You'll have to decide/Whether Judas Iscariot/Had God on his side.

I find it unfortunate that so many people hide their terrible actions behind the bible. I mean, if you're gonna be an asshole, at least own up to the fact that it's yours.

I'm glad there was a hindu invocation, but in the bigger picture why have an invocation in the Senate in the first place?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Well said, Bubs! I guess by Yeats' standards I am one of the best.

wonderturtle said...

Yeats kicks ass. How about this from Frost's "Once By The Pacific":

The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last 'Put out the Light' was spoken.

Bubs said...

Wonderturtle, thanks for quoting that. I didn't know that poem, and it's spooky as hell.

Barbara, you're one of the best by any standard!

Sinverguenza, that's a good Dylan quote. Your point is well taken, why an invocation at all? The easy answer is tradition, and if there's a tradition of having a religious figure say a prayer, best to be inclusive. I think that the desire to experience and commune with the divine, to have those transcendental moments, is a pretty basic human drive.

Ten S, thank you.

Lulu, you're very welcome. We'll be seeing you soon!

Coolcat, only some of them. I try and remind myself of that--most people are ok.

Dr. MVM, it's too late. My phone's been ringing off the hook thanks to your "endorsement"

Chris, I agree with you. I am constantly amazed that something that provides so many people with peace and comfort--religion--simultaneously provides the fuel for rage and intolerance in so many others.

Yeah, Johnny, I was thinking of that song too. That's a good one