Some of you are still listening to yesterday’s audio. (It’s long! Take the whole weekend!) Others of you couldn’t find it.
Randy Barney: ‘Here‘s the direct link to Godless America. The whole show was terrific. I even chuckled at Sweeney’s gentle ridicule of my Mormon faith.’
And some of you chose to weigh in further on the topic of questioning fundamentalism.
Kevin Clark: ‘I hate to nitpick about one of the two things you know about religion [that it should be separate from government – and that Jesus was the original liberal], but I can’t find any examples of Jesus endorsing huge government social programs. You might just as well argue that he’s the original compassionate conservative (10% flat tax). But the best description is probably apolitical, ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ etc. Which reinforces your first point: keep God and Caesar separate.’
☞ Anything to reinforce my first point. But I think we have to look to his underlying principles rather than his lack of support for Medicare or the earned income tax credit. I suppose we could have a society that left us all dependent on nothing more than private charity if we encountered adversity. No public schools, no health insurance, no flood insurance, no unemployment insurance, no worker’s comp, no accommodations for the disabled, no old-age stipends. But why would we want that? I think it’s in almost everyone’s interest to see themselves and their neighbors afforded some basic security – and the human dignity that comes with not having to beg. ‘There but for the grace of God,’ after all – and all that.
John Leonarz: ‘When we talk about the right-wing evangelicals who stretch politics to a narrow, supposedly religious-based agenda, we should enclose the word ‘Christians’ in quotes to show that, while they think they are Christians, they have probably misunderstood. Christ did, indeed, give us the great commission to go into the world and make disciples of all, but He did not seem to intend that we should do this by confrontation and hell-fire battering. He gives an example of how evangelism is to be done in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John, where He meets the woman at the well. He has done His homework and knows this woman’s background. He is compassionate, gentle, reasonable, and she becomes the channel through which the whole town comes to Him. Many who think they are Christians (it pains me to say) have only the kind of faith of which Our Lord’s younger brother, James, spoke in the second chapter of his letter (v.19): ‘You believe that there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.’ In Matthew 25, Jesus describes the Judgment Day when the people are to be separated one from another based upon their record – those who fed him when he was hungry, gave him drink when he was thirsty, took him in when he came as a stranger, etc., and meaning when you did this to ‘the least of these brothers of mine’ you did it for Him. This group is accounted righteous and have eternal life. But for those whose faith was not strong enough to carry over into works (I was hungry and you gave me nothing; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing; I was a stranger and you did not invite me in…)… then they will go away to eternal punishment. This result pains me because as a Christian (no quotes) my mission is to love my neighbor as myself (and I acknowledge that I am NOT very good at it), so I must love you, and I must love them, feed them if hungry, visit them in jail and all the rest. And I must do it with a cheerful approach so that the doing of it honors God. Until I see the compassion, I have to describe them with quotes.’
☞ Tony Blair came to America to beseech George Bush for $25 billion over ten years in aid to the impoverished nations of Africa, he got not quite 3% of it – $674 million. ‘I was hungry and you gave me nothing; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing; I was a stranger and you did not invite me in.’
Which ties nicely into Monday’s post. Stay tuned.