Saturday, July 14, 2007

THIS WEEK'S PASTORAL HOMILY-- AND A DAY EARLY!

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When I think what has caused the most grievous and heinous damages to humanity I would say that authoritarian religionism probably beats out the secular authoritarianism of the Nazis or of Stalin, Mao, Atilla or anyone else. Whether Christian or Muslim, when you're convinced "God" has a goal for you, anything goes, from burining people alive to disemboweling little children. Fortunately, the latest from Satan's home on earth, is not about disembowling. Instead it's just a neo-fascist throwback of a Pope trying to assert primacy over the followers of Jesus Christ.
Twice in the last week, Pope Benedict XVI acted to clarify what he described as mistaken interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the landmark conference in the 1960s that modernized the Roman Catholic Church.

But those actions, which were cheered by Catholic traditionalists, have raised concerns among leaders of other religious traditions that the pope could be taking the church in a more conservative direction, and away from a period of more open dialogue with other faiths.

In a document approved by the pope and released Tuesday, the Vatican reasserted its position that Roman Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation and that other Christian denominations suffer from "defects," or are not true churches.

The statement, which was released as the pope began his summer holiday, repeated many of the controversial elements of a document issued in 2000 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican body that enforces doctrine. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as he was known before being elected pope in 2005, led that panel for more than two decades and signed the document.

Has there ever been a greater evil on this planet than the Catholic Church? Probably not-- but militant, fundamental Muslims and Protestants are every bit as inherently dangerous to society and pleasing to Evil Incarnate. Yesterday Joe Bageant, author of Deer Hunting With Jesus, published an essay about the meaning of the widely popular radical right "Left Behind" series at Talk To Action.
If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of the last book in the Left Behind series, Glorious Appearing, and publish it across the Middle East, Americans would go beserk. Yet tens of millions of Christians eagerly await and celebrate an End Time when everyone who disagrees with them will be murdered in ways that make Islamic beheading look like a bridal shower.

I don't know how many of the 26% of Americans who still approve of the job Bush is doing as president confuse the Bible with the Left Behind series. But I expect the confusion is verfy widespread. The violent even monsterous version of Jesus in the series, after all, is far more in tune with what that 26% prefers to worship. But dangerous to society? Like Hitler and The Inquisition? You bet.
This may be some of the bloodiest hate fiction ever published, but it is also what tens of millions of Americans believe is God's will. It is approximately what everyone in the congregation sitting around me last Sunday at my brother's church believes. Or some version of it. How can anyone acquire and hold such notions? Answer: The same way you got yours and I got mine. Conditioning. From family and school and society, but from within a different American caste than the one in which you were raised. And from things stamped deep in childhood -- such as coming home terrified to an empty house.... This kind of Christianity is a black thing. It is a blood religion, that willingly gives up sons to America's campaigns in the Holy Land, hoping they will bring on the much-anticipated war between good and evil in the Middle East that will hasten the End Times...

Whatever the case, tens of millions of American fundamentalists, despite their claims otherwise, read and absorb the all-time best selling Left Behind book series as prophesy and fact. How could they possibly not after being conditioned all their lives to accept the End Times as the ultimate reality? We are talking about a group of Americans 20% of whose children graduate from high school identifying H2O as a cable channel. Children who, like their parents and grandparents, come from that roughly half of all Americans who can approximately read, but are dysfunctionally literate to the extent they cannot grasp any textual abstraction or overall thematic content.

Why should normal people care? I mean let these people wallow in their own ignornace, self-righteousness, misery and filth... and die. Right? Well... not so fast. "They have built their own massive media, and... educated middle class folks are noticing them now because they vote and a major political party is willing to violate the church-state boundary to get their votes... That lead-footed prose and numbing predictability that Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye grind out in the Left Behind series might not even be called writing. But whatever it is, at least 65 million folks that our nation failed to educate find deep meaning and solace in it.
The truth is that LaHaye is among the most influential religious writers America ever produced and is the most powerful fundamentalist in America today. He is the founder and first president of the eerily secretive Council for National Policy, which brings together leading evangelicals and other conservatives with right-wing billionaires willing to pay for a conservative religious revolution. He is far more influential than Billy Graham or Pat Robertson and was the man who inspired Jerry Falwell to launch the Moral Majority. He gave millions of dollars to Falwell's Liberty University. He's the man without whom Ronald Reagan would never have become governor of California and the man who grilled George W. Bush, then wiped the cocaine off George's nose and gave him the official Christian fundie stamp of approval. He created the American Coalition for Traditional Values that has mobilized evangelical voters, putting neo-conservative wackjobs into political offices across the nation.

Bageant sees an inherent danger in the Left Behind books as extremist propaganda. "Just as the propaganda value of associating Jewish people with rats in Nazi Germany helped the German populace accept persecution of the Jews, the Left Behind books foster a morality that excuses horrors done to 'non-believers.' Forget about sanity and reason. Christian fundamentalist media promotes a hermetic worldview cut off from reason. From the standpoint of those who consume such media messages, it is not so much propaganda as it is an abundant offering so complete as to be a parallel bizzaro world of its own"... a bizarro world affirmed and legitimatized by their very own bizzaro version of a president of the United States of America.

Yesterday's OpEdNews carried a very different essay very much worth considering in this context, W. Chistopher Epler's The Core Abomination of the Human Condition is Still the Abyss Between the "Haves" and the "Have Nots." It sounds a lot more like what I thought Jesus was all about than what these popes and televangelists and politicians have distorted his message into. But what do I know?
The have and have not distinction is the supremely repressed truth of human existence.

It's what Good and Evil is all about. It's instructive to remember that the only time Jesus Christ lost his cool was when whipped the money changers out of the "temple".

It's also instructive to remember that the compassionate teachings of Jesus Christ MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE addressed the have and have not obscenity. Yes, Jesus touched many spiritual bases, but he HAMMERED the vampire rich over and over again.

So why was he doing this? In what cultural/religious context did Jesus witness the pig rich (always 1% or less) grind vulnerable and suffering humanity under their heels?

Jesus' heart went out to the poor in spirit (and pocket), and can there be any real doubt that he was crucified not for tinker toy theological reasons (who gives as rat's ass about geezer theology?), but because he got too close to the greed power structure of that time and culture?

The greed and power structure? The Bush Family? Cheney? The Religionist Establishment? The Media Monopolies? Halliburton? The scandal of the American "health care" system? The corporate fleecing of America? Epler claims Jesus was crucified by "RICH PEOPLE because he was genuinely threatening their B.S. rationalizations for vampire greed." LaHaye's contemporary Rambo Jesus of the Left Behind series is the Jesus those same rich have recreated for their own purpose. This one is not only not a threat to their rationalizations; He bolsters them and legitimizes them.


UPDATE: OH, AND BY THE WAY, PRIESTS ARE STILL SEXUALLY PREYING OF CHILDREN AND THEIR CORPORATE CHURCHES ARE PAYING OFF BIG TIME TO KEEP THEM OUT OF PRISON

Monday's NY Times is reporting that the Catholic Church got off the hook again. After years and years of serial child abuse and rape, the Cardinal wasn't tossed in prison but allowed to pay an inconsequential fine and say "I'm sorry." They fought it every step of the way, of course.
A day after agreeing to a record-breaking $660 million settlement with 508 people who said they were sexually abused by clergy members in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony apologized this afternoon for “this horrible sin and crime” and said he hoped the settlement would bring a “final resolution.”

The Church pays no taxes in the U.S., routinely and unconstitutionally interfers with elections and it's officials rape small, defenseless children at will. Parasites, they suck money out of the population and then use it when they get caught raping the sons and daughters of the parishoners-- mostly sons-- the very people who they get the money from. They've paid $2 billion dollars in the U.S. to the victims so far.

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9 Comments:

At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent.

 
At 5:42 PM, Blogger Bruce said...

A brilliant post! If there have to be religious people, I wish there were sane and more moderate religious people who would speak out against these crazies. However, it doesn't seem that there are. IF there are, they are acting like the Democrats in Congress, cowering behind their desks, afraid to speak out. Things must change. Where is the Michael Moore of political or religious leaders who will speak truth to this evil power?

 
At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DWT, this is the best. Joe Conason's column on Friday in our paper, "Conservatives are holier than whom, exactly?" is quite related. I wrote Joe that Jesus taught healing the sick, feeding the hungry, visiting prisons, etc. and it seems to me that traditionally Democrats have promulated those values, while at least from the time of Nixon, Republicans have promulgated cronyism, tax breaks for rich friends, oil and pharmaceutical companies, and personal greed. Remember Katrina?

I don't know what is wrong with the Pope, but clearly he is moving the church backwards. Wonder how Rudy is feeling about that?

 
At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of your very best, Howie.

TSF

 
At 10:39 AM, Blogger Morris said...

Tens of millions read/sop-up that drival (Left Behind)!? You gotta be BS'n me.
I submit there is a large subset of what is 'counted' as the religeous right that do not subscribe to that fictional crap. Why don't they speakout? Maybe because they make a living elsewhere? They're not playing this media marry-go-round game.

 
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