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Why Republicans CANNOT be Truly Christian, Introduction.
Where I'm coming from
First let me say that I am not here to be provocative. I was raised in a very fundamental religion, and while it didn't turn me into an atheist, it certainly made me view many so-called Christian religions with a skeptical - some could argue cynical - eye.
To clarify, I was raised in the Mormon (aka LDS) church. The first thing that made me suspicious was the fact that those of African descent were not allowed to hold any of the higher offices of Mormon priesthood. This was explained away by stating that black people were the descendants of Cain, the first murderer, a twisted take on the concept of "Original Sin." Even at the age of 10, that didn't seem right to me.
As I grew older, I was drawn toward leftist culture. Even though I was born in 1970, well after the heyday of Hippie culture, I was fascinated by the teachings of love and acceptance preached by these long-haired weirdos, and the attitudes of the movement seemed to me to jibe far more with New Testament admonishments than the clean-cut, expensive suit wearing Bible thumpers preaching Hellfire and damnation for anyone who didn't think as they were told under the Aegis of it being "God's word." And didn't give them money. All signs point to the financial factor being the true motivation behind most of those that hide behind holy words.
But before I get too "out there" for some of you, let me assure you that this is not an unfounded series of diatribes meant to cause sensation. I will be using philosophical formulae, the Republican platform and the Bible itself to prove that my argument is valid, cogent and logical. Not, as many would dismiss it, simply my opinion.
But before I get to the meat of this, there are a couple of concepts that need to be addressed first.
This is the primary hurdle I'll be facing with this treatise. I'll either be preaching to the choir, i.e., those who already feel the way I do, or I'll be viewed as an iconoclastic mind-terrorist who only wants to tear down the walls of modern civilization. The latter are the ones that will feel the effect of cognitive dissonance the most.
Cognitive dissonance is defined as:
"The mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values."
The concept and phrase were conceived by social psychologist Leon Festinger, who went on to say this had a two-fold effect:
1. The existence of dissonance [or inconsistency], being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance [or consistency].
2. When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance.
What this usually leads to is a dismissal of the new facts in order to maintain the comfort zone that most of us crave. How many people do you know that will willingly admit when their wrong? Chances are not very many; a lot of people prefer a state of so-called "blissful ignorance" rather than rethink a concept they've held close for a good portion of their lives.
In other words, new facts will be dismissed as fallacious or too trivial to be taken seriously. This is easier than change.
Though the concept has been around for a while, prosperity theology gained prominence in the US during the "healing revivals" of the 1950s.
It essentially states that:
"Financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will increase one's material wealth."
Yet nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus say anything remotely like this. In fact, he says quite the opposite.
Matthew 19:24 - And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (KJV)
Why? Because it is nearly impossible to gain wealth without stepping on others.
Just take a look at some of the,leading proponents of prosperity theology today. People like Oral Roberts, Robert Tilton and Joel Osteen have made the concept a central platform of the beliefs they hope to foist on their followers. But who's really prospering?
The people advocating it, that's who.
But don't take my word for it:
I hope I didn't lose too many of you with that. I'm no fan of Driscoll, and I find the concept of an interventionist God to be approaching superstition, but I think he makes a good point.
The Bible as an instrument of hate, not a document of Love
Too often, "Christianity" (to be referred from this point on as "Churchianity," a term coined by religious philosopher and occultist Paul Foster Case) focuses on the negative, preaching against sin, and, more commonly the alleged sinner. A timely example would be homosexuality. Vilified in some circles even more so than Islamic terrorists. gay men and women have become synonymous with pederasts, sexual deviants and *shudder* liberals.
But read the New Testament. There is no caveat to "Love thy neighbor as thyself" that states "unless said neighbor is a queer."
And whatever happened to "hate the sin, love the sinner?" Does that only apply to minor transgressions committed by someone who is probably a family member and is therefore cut more slack than a stranger?
Gary Oldman says what many Churchian leaders won't admit to their flocks in the under-appreciated film, The Book of Eli.
(Forgive the potty mouth on Oldman, it was an R-rated flick.)
Slightly visceral and more than a bit hyperbolic, but it does hit the nail on the head.
The point of all this
Okay, so at this point, some of you may be dismissing this entire thing as the ravings of a lunatic, giving in to the "easy way out" when it comes to dealing with cognitive dissonance. The above may seem erratic and approaching to makings of a manifesto, but I'm not here to threaten, merely cajole and possibly enlighten. I spent years suffering from spiritual conflict that stemmed from a deep-seated fear of God. It wasn't until I realized that the God Jesus refers to is not to be feared. God wants nothing but the best for Its children, but by the best I don't mean wealth. Axioms are based in truth and the axiom that money cannot buy happiness is one of the fundamental truths of life.
Over the next few articles, I will focus on specific elements of the Republican platform that are in direct conflict with the words of the New Testament. I may lose some of you along the way, but I hope to reach even one person who may be having issues reconciling the feelings in their heart and the feelings they've been told to have.