Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
One of life’s odd conundrums is how the Religious Right squares its support of guys like Paul Ryan. Somehow, on this Easter Sunday, I cannot see how Jesus, the ultimate egalitarian, would find himself registering to vote Republican. He probably couldn’t though, as he would definitely have problems with his birth certificate.
Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare, and kick back trillions more to the wealthiest Americans, who already enjoy such prosperity as has been unseen on this planet at such levels in modern history, seems out of step with the teachings of Jesus.
Anyone who heals the lepers is probably going to support health care for the poor, and Head Start to get children without the means a better shot at a future.
I would also think, as no one was compelled forcibly to join the faith over its early millennia, and the times in which he lived were filled with many, many faiths, that Jesus would probably be okay with people voluntarily finding his word. He would not have had a problem with the pluralistic, multi-culutural, multi-faith society of tolerance which the Founding Fathers established on this continent.
People of faith from the most devout corners, prior to the 1980s, largely supported the Democrats, not the Republicans, in pre-Lee-Attwater Texas and throughout the South. If you look at it, it made sense. Democratic policies espousing a society where we all help each other out are far more in keeping with the fundamental teachings of Jesus than the agenda driven by the monied self interests behind the Republican party.
What do I mean by the “fundamental” teachings?
In all faiths, there are a lot of “addititives.” Religious texts, copied by hand over the millennia, develop and change with the editorial eye of the people who control the copying. It is kind of like the child’s game where you whisper something in the first child’s ear, and have them whisper it to the next child. By the time that it reaches the end, what was said generally bears little resemblance to what was first said.
Take for example the turn of phrase “The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon their sons” in the Old Testament. Most folks whom you would speak, especially those who are very devout, would see it in the Bible, and say: This is the word of God, because it IS in the Bible.
Problem: It is the word of Eurpides, a Greek playwright who lived from 485 to 406 BCE. The original, appearing in a tragic play called “Phrixus,” read: “The gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children.” It also appears in 405 BCE as a lift by the playwright Aristophanes in a comedy called “The Frogs.” It was a catchy moralistic turn-of-phrase that seemed to work.
Both were referring, of course, to the Greek Gods, who only find themselves myths because their culture, like the Vikings, Etruscans, and countless others, was absorbed into the greater Roman, then Roman-Christian conquest.
There are tons of such snippets and mangled interpretations in all religious texts that go back for centuries. They convey the fundamental character of the idea. Such hand-copied tomes varied widely, even from book to book in the same region, until Gutenburg developed a printing press that standardized the texts.
All of this goes back to the point, though, that, even with all of the jeremiads from the Medieval period, where the concept of sin and guilt as a means of population control was honed to a dark art well before Attwater and Karl Rove picked up that ball politically, the purity of Jesus’ most fundamental teachings, of charity, of love, of compassion for your fellow human, seem somewhat lost on a large swath of people blindly following the Tea Party. They seem to have gone a bit “off-message,” reacting more out of fear and hate than charity and compassion.
I ask the most religious amongst you to tell me if Jesus would require the poorest amongst us to be left to find thousands of dollars that they don’t have to pay for their medical care?
Should seniors in the richest nation on the face of the Earth be forced to live in chicken coops again because the few thousand that the government gave them in a Social Security voucher isn’t enough to help people who contributed mightily to society, but were not amongst the well remunerated lawyers, bankers, athletes and entertainers?
What would Jesus not do?
I would think that he would pass on any political party or orginization or Koch Brothers-funded think-tank that reduces humanity to commodity-consuming corporate slaves.
That is a worshipping of idolatry most out of keeping with his teachings, and the better angels of that faith.
Something to think about before you load up the RV for the next Tea Party shindig.
My shiny two.