Saturday, 19 November 2016

"Jesus Loves Me..." So How Can You Hurt Your Neighbour?

The above pic depicts the starving children of Brasil. The contrast between their lives [probably dead now] and the Olympics there is too real for them!  The quote is from James 5. Read it. Live it. But don't water it down.

"Jesus 💜 me
this I know
for the bible tells 
me so" - you sing

Yet you hurt
your neighbour
whom Jesus said you must love
and DIE for

You pollute
her water
her air
her land

Your investments
devour the land
where the resources
are stolen from

"You cannot love money and God"
Jesus said
But you say "God blesses me with what I stole
from the poor here and there"

"Go sell all your possessions
and [then you can] follow me"
But you accumulate
more and more

You read the bible
But you ignore most of it
You constantly read irrelevant passages
And ignore those that require you to live as the poor or to BE poor

You are sheltered
with lame intellectually dishonest
Let us pray

You have no shame
Pride fills your heart
And mouth
Smothered by your full wallet

You plan your next vacation
You FLY, drive
Using more resources and polluting
More than most of the planet

You build your wealth
upon the backs of the poor
Your cell phone enslaved
so you can have convenience

You don't care
about equality,

Your comfort is your god
Your greed
Your oppression of people
and all of creation                                                         thrives

To avoid shame
and keep the "free market"
free for the rich
and privileged

You lie:
Your cult-r-r-e, church, priest, synagogue, mosque, chief, professor, economist, "spiritual" leader, ...  

But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the LORD,
and with justice and might, 
to declare Jacob his transgression,
to Israel his sin....

who build Zion with bloodshed,
and Jerusalem with wickedness. 

Her leaders judge for a bribe,
her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets tell fortunes for money...
- Micah 3

Again, the bible condemns the sin of the religious/state: Israel [not to imply only this state/religion]. Note it's about oppression, power, money, greed...all things that many "christians, jews, muslims, economists, doctors, atheists"..."follow" .... how oft have you heard these sins condemned in a religious service? Isn't it time? [Likewise politicians, teachers, parents might show some concern!]

It's rather ironic that Jesus was a peasant Palestinian. A Jew. Most of his followers were peasants. He condemned the status quo and the rich. And yet today most of the churches/shopping malls, universities, ... are emptied of the out-casts: cast out. And the interpreters of a radical bible/church are middle/upper class....the very ones Christ condemned. Hence the radical-ness of the bible/church gets twisted, ignored and put to rest. "May the peace of Christ be with you."

It's time to shut down PAC [pick and choose] theology/philosophy/economics, etc. It's time to live love [the requirement/test of the christian: no love = no faith = not a christian]. This must extend to how we live: our transportation, food, jobs, investments, police, economics, social issues....It's time to die for our neighbour: giving up our own greed and turning, instead, in com-passion and act-i-on. Without change and sacrifice, the 1000000000 will continue to starve DAILY! while you pack your bags for the winter. Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Preachers Co-op The Gospel While Smiling

Have you ever wondered how a preacher or anyone takes an entire book of the bible [for e.g. the book of Mark] and reduces it to a few nice things about Jesus? How does Christ's life get re-duced to a "he died for your sins, believe and you go to heaven". Is this much worse than the terrorist who is told "blow your-self up and 70 virgins will be waiting for you in heaven"? Not sure if the Christians promise virgins...let's hope so!

So the Prince of Peace was foretold to bring down the haughty, the powerful and heal the poor, the blind, and the rejected! Hmm. Sounds pretty radical to me! But have you ever heard that from a church pulpit? No, no...keep politics, economics, sociology and challenges to hierarchy out of the pulpit and the platitudes of the pleasant "gospel". 

One must wonder why this man of peace was murdered as a traitor and a terrorist [to the state and religious leaders]? Certainly his constant challenging of religious authorities - who represented the State: the Romans, and the authorities in Jerusalem - might play a role. While he condemned the rich, the powerful and the purveyors of the status quo, he reached out with com-passion [feel with] to those rejected by these very authorities. He "hung out with" prostitutes, the poor, the sick, women: all forbidden by the Jewish authorities. We see similar things continue in most of the world and the three "great" religions of today! Ok, most in the West think it's ok to talk to women today - but don't give them equal pay or an equal hearing when raped or abused!

So how does all this get ignored when the preacher is supposedly "sharing" the "gospel"? In most cases, s/he is the very authority that Christ challenged in his day. S/he wants those listening to conform to society, the church, to the status quo. "Don't rock the boat" "Don't challenge" "Don't think about your sins beyond lust, speeding, yelling..." - lame excuses for sin.

Why doesn't the preacher of any religion, ideology, philosophy ask if what they are doing is loving? While this is the most important command, according to biblical writers, it is not  part of the preacher's gospel. If I drive to church, which pollutes my and my neighbour's air, wipes out the eco-system with highways, is the root of war [for oil, etc.], kills more children than anything...shouldn't people be told to bus, ride a bike or walk to church [or mosque, synagogue, work, base-ball games, etc.]. This is just one issue which, of course, as illustrated, is not limited to Christians nor religion - but it illustrates the abstraction of religion today. As religion reflects and sustains cult-u-r-e, we see the similar lack of real-i-t-y "check" in terms of climate change. How many are willing to get out of their cars, big houses, jet skiis, jet trips, etc.?

Lastly, isn't it ironic that the gospel, through a filter of PAC  [Pick and Choose] Theology, ignores the central message of Jesus. He consistently tells people to die for others: to put others first - even when it is inconvenient and uncomfortable! Yet many preachers promise "blessings" for obedience. But they fail to obey the greatest command: love thy neighbour...and this entails "sell all your possessions and give them to the poor". This is very different from the fundamentalist neighbour who lamely says "oh it's ok to have great wealth, live in luxury and self indulgence [condemned by the writer James] - as long as you share". Compare such lies with the meme in this post!

Many issues are merely touched upon here. See other blog posts for more specific details. Let us not merely preach but LIVE the gospel: loving one another!This in-volves our entire life and society. We must look at the sins of unequal income/land distribution, hierarchy, all levels of injustice, destruction of our home: the eco-system...just to name a few!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Abortion Sanctified In/By Bible

You may wonder why many Evangelicals, especially in the Southern U.S. deny a woman the right to abortion. Most are not aware of any biblical basis but just follow some leader or church dogma. Let’s look at some interesting and ignored passages that pertain to the topic. 

Numbers 5 outlines what a man is to do if he is jealous and suspicious of his wife sleeping with another man. He is to take her to a priest to be examined/tested for her purity. The priest writes curses on a scroll and then washes them off with bitter water. The woman is forced to drink this bitter water “that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering [v.24 NIV]. If the woman is guilty, the drink will cause her abdomen to swell and her “thigh waste away” [v.25 NIV – or the footnote: “she will have barrenness and a miscarrying womb” – perhaps an ideological choice to only footnote that translation]. She will be accursed among the people. 

It’s clear that a fetus has no value. What is of value here? The man! Forget the health/rights of the fetus or the woman! Considering that the man owns the woman, this should not surprise anyone. Let’s look at another scripture for further clarification.

Exodus 21 deals with laws pertaining to rights. “When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child [pregnant], so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows [to the woman], the one who hurt her [the woman] shall be fined, according as what the woman’s husband shall lay upon him, and he shall pay as the judge determines [v.22 RSV]. The fetus has no value. In this case, the woman does have value. The NIV is the only version that mistranslates the word “miscarriage” – probably for ideological reasons, again. Slaves also have little value as v.20-21 show, but we don’t have room to deal with that presently.

The above reveal the inequality of men, women and fetuses. It was a very patriarchal and authoritarian culture/religion. But this, in no way, excuses or justifies the message. Men had all the power to determine the fate of a woman and a fetus.

Today, men still want to control women’s bodies. Banning abortion doesn’t stop it – it merely makes it more unsafe for the poor who can’t afford to pay a doctor. A large number of women are dying as a result in areas of the U.S. where people have made it very difficult to get the procedure. The rich can always pay for the best medical care so they don’t resort to coat hangers and the like!

 If one says the bible is inspired by God, then that includes the verses above. It is “surprising” how some will hold tightly to a verse against homosexuality but then ignore these ones. It’s called PAC Theology: Pick and Chose Theology. Rather than being honest about the faults of their religion/ideology, most will ignore what they want or project their values onto a text. 

One solution is to see this, as all “holy texts” as CERTAIN peoples’ version of their reality at the time. Remember it is the power-full who [literally] write history – especially when it was only a few, of a certain background and class that could even write or read! Fortunately, some of us can now, being more “en-lightened” by humanistic values, condemn injustices and authoritarian ideologies/systems. 

 But if believers claim that the bible is the final authority, then they cannot simply ignore the difficult messages of these texts because they don’t fit into their ideological box.