Pastor Pillow here!
I’m back and abundantly pleased to place my hands squarely again on the sacred wood altar (with apologies to T.S. Eliot).
Joyful though I am to rejoin my flock over a round of Sabbath morn mimosas at the local brunchery, I approach you humbly with a laden heart. Hold me up in your thoughts and prayers, as it is indeed a spiritual burden to present time and again the news of the misguided Radical Right.
Brethren, pray for me. And, Bartender, while you’re at it, another mimosa, please. Hold the citrus.
There, much better.
The march from abiogenesis to archaea to eukaryotic sentient being was a long one. Very long. Several billion years, in fact.
And precisely how long is several billion years? Well, just consider the fact that a good bit of our planet’s oxygen-rich atmosphere was created by single-cell microbes pooping out oxygen atoms a few at a time. Earth’s troposphere alone stretches to well over 10 kilometers above terra firma. That’s a lot of excreted oxygen, or: a bloody long time.
(By the way, remind your Creation Museum member friends of this fact the next time the subject comes up.)
Life in those early days was simple enough. Replicate, replicate, replicate. We had limited worries, and even more limited sensory capacity. Neither moon nor stars nor even terra firma itself were mental constructs. In fact, not even mental constructs were mental constructs.
Which perhaps was a good thing, as we and our fellow colony neighbors were held harmless with respect to religious conviction and political philosophy. “Be fruitful and multiple” was the only divine Prime Directive. The Golden Rule need not yet apply.
Fast forward to a point roughly 200,000 years ago. A life form on our Little Blue Planet had achieved the evolutionary superpowers of an increased braincase, opposable thumbs and a just-so angled larynx. And perhaps the Imago Dei—which to my mind is sentience, or the capacity to engage the world subjectively.
Then suddenly (at least in evolutionary terms) these advanced hominids found themselves domesticating cattle and maize, crossing continental land bridges, and living just long enough to figure out that the Giant Yellow Ball in the Sky, along with its lunar and stellar companions, were making predictable patterns across the firmament. Also, there were shiny rocks which, when melted and turned into ingots and jewelry, turned people into fucking greedy snots.
The biological blueprint of Pin the Sperm on the Egg was still a bit beyond the comprehension of our ancient ancestors, but the idea of Cause and Effect was catching on. Humans realized that if they themselves possessed the magic to produce other human beings, then something had probably caused their own existence. The most likely candidates again were that Giant Yellow Ball in the Sky and its nefarious friends of the night, along with thunderclouds and rivers and mountains, plus the spirits that controlled jackals, hawks and their ilk.
And as these external forces and beings so often presented themselves in an unfriendly fashion to human beings—such as when Cousin Knet was chopped in half by a grumpy hippo or when Aunt Ningal was swept away in a torrential flood—the whole idea of Propitiation came about.
Aha! If we merely present something very valuable to us—such as a vixen vestal virgin or this year’s fattiest bull—to the Giant Yellow Ball in the Sky & the Mack the Knife Gang, perhaps we can assuage their rancor.
This Age of Propitiation lasted quite a long time and was occasionally innovated with concepts such as the Great Wise Spirit and Monotheism. Actually, to hear a good many Southern Baptist pastors preach it, we’re still squarely in the Age of Propitiation. (Jehovah, it appears, fancies eternal barbecues.)
Yet two millennia ago, along came a lowly Carpenter born in a barn on the eastern outskirts of the Roman Empire. This Carpenter started suggesting that bloodletting virgins and cows was not nearly as important as being kind to one’s fellow human being. And, he added, while you’re at it, why not share the things you have so that everyone stands a fair chance at avoiding the miserable fate of hungry-hungry hippos and what-not.
The Carpenter’s teachings upset a good many power-mongering, greedy bastards, who did their best to extinguish such a humanistic flame. But even following the Carpenter’s murder (and resurrection, for those who believe in such things, as do I), his ideas continued gaining strength. Ultimately, the Romans, who for some time had turned the Carpenter’s followers into decorative upside-down crosses and lion Lunchables, finally conceded that the Carpenter’s ideas were better than anything Zeus had ever come up with, which included raping ladies at will and turning innocent passersby into shrubberies.
Still, while for centuries the peoples of Europe and the Levant acknowledged the Life and Times of the Carpenter as plausible Propitiation Therapy Replacement, most human beings didn’t really buy into the whole “be nice to everyone and share your possessions” message. Acknowledging that the Carpenter was the Son of God seemed to be the safest bet to avoiding hippo mastication for all eternity.
Which brings us to today. The Planet Earth. A celestial body inhabited by 7 billion sentient beings, a full third of whom acknowledge a Christian worldview.
And the mighty tug-of-war between those who think that being a Christian means:
(a) ascribing divine lineage to the Carpenter and then basically looking out for oneself,
versus those who think that being a Christian means:
(b) insisting that following the Carpenter’s teachings about sharing and self-sacrifice for one’s neighbor, and even for our Little Blue Planet itself, matters just as much as, if not more, than believing in the Galilean’s preternatural genealogy.
I don’t know about you, but one of the above positions reminds me of our ancient past: the era of primordial archaea and soulless creatures vying with fangs and claws to horde and gobble resources under a pre-Imago Dei, “be fruitful and multiply” biological directive.
Anyway, all that champagne might be getting to my head.
I hope my historical survey has left you with something to think about while you munch on chips and queso during the Bears and Lions big match this afternoon. (At least this time the Christians are squarely on the sidelines.) Soon the 5:30 p.m. service will be upon you; as you head there later this afternoon, consider the following words:
Which kind of Christian are you?
Hell, what kind of human being are you?
Are you just another conscienceless creature, or will you rise above your animal instincts and work to relieve suffering, to protect others, to sacrifice something within yourself to revere life?
Sorry to get all soap boxy. Now feel free to lose yourself in the vapidity of the following articles.
As ever, I am not making up any of this stuff. That said, maybe you’ll forgive me this week if I attempt to find a few redeemable qualities about Christian fundamentalists: a sign or two that provides some semblance of hope that we aren’t all headed into a devolutionary tailspin back to mindless bacterialism.
5. National Religious Broadcasters Member Equates ENDA with Promotion of Pedophilia, at the American Family Association: “The ENDA the First Amendment”
So much for redeemable qualities. The American Family Association, for what it’s worth, is a member of the National Religious Broadcasters, and a decidedly “Christian” organization with a bona fide Statement of Faith.
Yet Bryan Fischer and the American Family Association have no problem placing on the Propitiation Altar a statement such as the following:
“The AFA last week exposed the APA for classifying pedophilia as just another ‘orientation’ (their word, not ours) in its diagnostic manual, the DSM, the Bible of the therapeutic profession. Caught with their hand in the deviancy cookie jar, the APA is quickly seeking to backpedal, saying it was all just an unfortunate mistake, don’t you know, and promising to make corrections in subsequent print editions.”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is being presented to Evangelicals across the country as nothing less than a liberal, satanic ploy to allow child sex offenders into the workforce.
Sheesh. I think I’m ready to switch from mimosas to Bulleit Bourbon.
Christian Fundamentalists of the World, heighten your cochlear nerves: Some human beings like human beings that resemble their anatomical selves. Other human beings identify as another gender. Get over it.
I’m pretty sure the Carpenter would agree.
Bryan Fischer & Co., rather than tell you to kiss my heaven-bound hominid ass, I’ll just let you speak for yourself, and with your own words dig you and your fellow, cruel Tea Party Christians a little closer to the religio-political grave:
“It is not only likely but a matter of virtual certainty that transvestites will begin applying for jobs at values-driven businesses just so they can get turned down and then immediately file the mother of all discrimination suits against businesses such as Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A.
“If you don’t think that’s a virtual certainty, you are clueless regarding the meanness, vindictiveness and cruelty of homosexual activists.”
Make that a Sazerac, Manny Schewitz!
4. Africa’s Billy Graham Set to Hit U.S. Shores, via Christianity Today: “The Crusader: Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke Brings Old-Time Gospel Back to America”
Reinhard Bonnke is about to become a household name in this country, or at least as famous as any East Prussian has been since the days of Kaiser Wilhelm.
If you take Christianity Today at its word, Bonnke is responsible for the conversion of 55 million African to Christianity, including a 1.6 million-person crusade more than a decade ago in Lagos, Nigeria.
We have no idea yet where the German Godzilla crusader will be making landfall, but we’ll keep you posted.
That said, I’m willing to cut the guy some lederhosen slack until we learn a bit more about him. Apparently he is coming just to “preach the simple ABCs of the gospel.”
If that’s the case, let me be the first to invite Herr Bonnke!
Herr Evangelist, please consider making your first pit stop in Washington DC. There’s a “Fellowship” there which I think really needs to learn a thing or two about die Lehren des Schreiner.
And if you have the time, can you please lay hands on Senator Ted Cruz, former VP candidate Sarah Palin, Representative Michele Bachmann and the rest of the screwball bacterial politicos within your reach?
3. Canadian Bacon Begs American Evangelicals to Chill Out, according to the Christian Week: “Learning the Language”
Tim Perry is rector at Church of the Epiphany in Sudbury, Ontario. In short, read his article to get a sense of what Evangelical Christianity might look like if a maple leaf flew over the White House.
How is it possible that our neighbors to the north—with the exception of Toronto Mayor Rob “Drunken Stupor” Ford—always have the commonsense upper hand on us?
Just listen to these words:
“Evangelicals would be wise to remember that between exegesis and public debate is an important step—prudential judgment.”
“On the other hand, the language of public policy, public debate, thoughtful, reasoned reflection is the language outside the wall. We need to learn to speak that language, too.”
Dang, and the good rector even uses terms like “the common good” and concludes with a reference to William Wilberforce.
No retreat to archaea life forms here. The Carpenter would approve.
2. Beware the Lair of Zuckerberg, over at the Orthodox Christian Network: “13 Facebook Sins You Might Need to Confess”
I confess I have a soft spot in my heart for the Eastern Orthodox Church. That might mean nothing to you. Essentially, the Eastern Orthodox Church is Roman Catholicism east of Italy stretching all the way to Russia. Only their priests have beards, wear dresses, get married and get funny looks on their faces when you use words like filioque.
And, in general, Orthodox Christians subscribe to a more apophatic theology, which is complicated and might make a good future “X-Rated Bible” series article.
What I have always appreciated about Orthodox theology and philosophy on just about any subject is how it straddles the “old world” and the “new world.” There’s always just a hint of “well, did you ever stop to think that spending a few weeks meditating on a Greek mountain and letting your beard grow might not be such a bad idea” kind of perspective.
We’re all on Facebook and other similar social media websites. Kudos to Christina Pessemier for creating the ultimate commonsense Ten Commandments for Facebook Protocol, including:
“When you share a political post, make sure it is as respectful as possible and for the purpose of inspiring intelligent conversation and healthy discussion.”
Wait, do you think that applies to my above remarks about Ted Cruz?
1. Yes, Virginia, There is a Freedom of Religion Problem—Just Not Here, via Christian Broadcasting Network: “Twenty-Three Senators Urge Obama to Save Saeed”
Usually we like to end on a positive note—which, thanks to all these Canadian and Orthodox articles, should be a little easier this week.
Then again, we forgot about Iran.
Is religious fundamentalism an issue in our country? Yes. Is it as bad as religious fundamentalism in other parts of our world? Not yet.
It’s never a bad idea to remind ourselves what life would look like if Evangelical Mad-Hattery were permitted to reign from sea to shining sea. And don’t just take CBN’s word for it; here’s the same story at the Washington Post.
So if you’re looking for a good deed for the day, please consider signing the petition at the following link, which requests that President Obama plead for the life of Reverend Saeed Abedini, imprisoned for his religious beliefs in the Land o’ Ayatollah.
If you need some reassurance before you sign the petition, here’s a Huff Post article about Secretary of State Kerry calling for Saeed’s release.
If you really want to get bold, go ahead and contact the Iranian government here—though you might need a Persian translator for the page.
Pastor Saeed, we’re praying for your safe return.
Well, folks, that’s a wrap!
And just why do we present the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up each week?
According to Forbes, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) alone brings in nearly $300 million per year in revenue. CBN isn’t alone in the 9-figure Radical Right Revenue Game. According to the website Ministry Watch, CBN is dwarfed in comparison to the nearly $900 million raked in annually by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
But TBN and CBN are mere bright stars in a galactic empire of hundreds of Christian news and media organizations. If you have a few minutes to spare, review the membership lists of the National Religious Broadcasters and the Evangelical Press Association.
Each and every one of these Christian media organizations have one thing in common: they report news to members of the Christian Right across the Fruited Plain. And the Christian Right account for nearly one-third of America’s voters.
Not only that, but here’s a list of what’s on the line in November 2014:
—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives
—33 seats in the U.S. Senate
—46 State Legislatures
—And 38 State and Territorial Governorships.
Sorry to preach politics from the pulpit, but if that doesn’t scare the shit out of you enough to submit an early 2014 ballot, I don’t know what will.
See you next week.
And a final message for people everywhere, don’t forget: the November 2014 election is this many days away.
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