Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Some New Year's Tidbits

Happy New Year, one and all!

I have no long, coherent entry to post -- only a few brief musings.

This past Sunday, our local Fiesta Bowl Parade blocked the route to church, so I went to the church where I grew up. Nobody I remember was left there, and few in attendance looked to be under seventy. In the ushers' pew, in back, an old guy of about ninety sat there, playing a harmonica through the entire service. It was somewhat bizarre. In the church courtyard afterwards, I saw the scariest statue of Jesus I have ever seen. It was life-sized, and he looked like he was ready to strangle somebody.

The congregation probably paid a buttload for that statue, so no matter how much like a demented homeless person, or a mauler, Jesus looks, I guess they're stuck with it. Had that been there when I was a child, it would have caused me nightmares. The whole experience was still further proof, to me, that you can't go home again.

Has it occurred to anybody else that the U.S. Patriot Act might come back to bite the Right-Wingers who support it in the ass? History shows that few of the rights or freedoms we surrender ever come back again. What happens when some future President, hostile to the Religious Right, decides to wiretap conservative churches and use the "evidence" he or she compiles to revoke their tax-exempt status or toss certain believers in jail? When they cry about how persecuted they are, I, for one, do not even want to hear it.

You simply cannot attack the rights of others without also endangering your own. I only hope and pray the American people remember that before we've turned our entire Constitution into toilet-paper.

My folks weren't much into organized religion. I had to play church, when I was a kid, because they almost never wanted to go. And when I told my dad I wanted to go to a Southern Baptist college, he just about had a fit. "Why do you want to hang around those people?" he asked me. "Don't you realize that religion attracts the very worst kind?"

Unfortunately, he was a long way from wrong. It's remarkable, how nasty a lot of so-called Christians are. When he was young, my father had a problem with alcohol, and the first place he turned (silly him) was to the church. All he found there was judgmentalism and condemnation -- nobody lifted a finger to try and help him, nor did anybody give the least evidence they would bother to offer him so much as a prayer. Finally, he found A.A., and they gave him the support he needed to get sober and stay that way. I can't blame him for never trusting the church again.

Why is it that so many Christians never seem to stop and think about the witness they give to others? Whether it's a statue of Jesus so scary it makes kids pee in their pants, a law that threatens to destroy everthing America stands for or the gleeful damnation of somebody who comes to them for help (but they judge not quite worth the effort), these phoney-baloneys are a disgrace to Jesus and everything He ever stood for.

For the record, let me make one correction. The congregation that commissioned the psycho statue of Jesus does not deserve to be singled out for any righteous wrath. They seemed to be very friendly and welcoming people, and the pastor was so nice, and such a dynamic preacher, that I will probably go back at least a few times just to hear some more of his sermons. I merely mention that statue because it so neatly symbolizes the nightmarishly ugly mess that so many "Christians" are making out of the faith Christ gave to the world.

"When the Son of Man returns," Jesus once sadly asked, "will He find faith left on earth?" Thanks to the Holy Spirit He promised would abide with us 'til He comes back, we can rest assured that He will. But it will certainly be no thanks to many of the sick jokes who call themselves Christians.


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