Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Missing the Point

Well folks, the elections are finally over and I have heaved an enormous sigh of relief knowing that the Democratic takeover of the house means that I, along with all of my self-employed friends will still be able to purchase health insurance for at least another two years.

Perhaps my anxiety over this issue is overblown, but having watched so many people being denied coverage, or being charged literally twice their monthly income for premiums, I honestly don't think so. The orange beast and his minions can still do plenty of damage, but at least that one little piece of the puzzle is safe for the moment.

Anyhow, with that knot in my stomach fairly well dissipated, my mind has been set free to wander a bit this morning. So as I was scrolling through my Google news feed, I noticed an interesting article about a house for sale in Colorado - one inspired by Henry David Thoreau's classic, Walden.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Then I clicked on the link. Good Lord! I'm pretty sure Thoreau is rolling over in his grave. Call me crazy, but somehow I don't think that a lavish $29 million 10,500 square foot luxury estate with 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms is exactly what he had in mind when he penned these words:

It just sorta makes you wonder doesn't it? How could someone who claimed to be inspired by Walden, create something which is its absolute antithesis? And even more to the point, how could the people writing articles about the place fail to notice this rather glaring point?

I dunno, perhaps it's just another example of the enormous hypocrisy and contradictions that seem to permeate our society these days. As horrifying as I have found the political divide in this country to be, one thing is sure, a lot of true colors have come to light. 

I found it interesting and sad that as last night's election results came in, there was no repudiation by the evangelical community of the politics of hate, in fact, it was quite the opposite. I've never been a Christian, so perhaps I'm missing something, but it seems to me that the current administration, in terms of both policy and personal behavior, represents the exact opposite of what I understood to be "Christian values."

I'm curious to know what those of you who are Christians think about that. Do you consider it hypocritical to see people who consider themselves to be morally superior lining up behind a racist demagogue who seems to be actively working to harm as many people as possible? Or is there just some completely different interpretation of morality at work here... one that I'm obviously missing.  

Anyhow, those are my thoughts on this November morning. Hope you're all enjoying autumn. Here's the view from a recent bike ride - and I'm thrilled to report that I'm back on my bike - more on that lengthy topic later...


  1. In most circumstances, I follow the adage, "Never discuss politics or religion." However, I will make a couple of comments about being Christian that does not refer to anyone or anything in particular.

    Here's what I've been taught. (No scholar here, just lessons from Sunday School.) Being Christian or any other religion does not mean that you are better or will behave better than anyone else. Christians are humans and sin like everyone else who are not Christians. What is specific to Christianity is the belief that Christ come to give people eternal life when you ask forgiveness. Basically, Christianity believes in second chances. Hopefully, people who are practicing Christianity are trying to live a good life and to be more Christ like. Christ's teachings certainly encourage kindness and goodness toward all mankind.

    There are many variations on the details of this and how different denominations practice their faith. That's my simplistic version.

    And this small Blogger comment window is driving me crazy. I have to scroll constantly to see what I'm writing. Who knows what I actually wrote.

    1. Hmmm... so you're saying that Christians don't actually consider themselves to be morally superior. That's interesting because as a non-Christian, it's certainly not the message I see. But I think perhaps my view of Christianity is colored by the fact that I tend to only see and hear the loudest, and therefore probably the most extreme purveyors of the faith.

      I dunno, I try to keep an open mind, and I no longer believe the "Christianity is Evil" doctrine that I was raised with - I'm quite sure that the vast majority of Christians are good people, but I do have a hard time wrapping my brain around the enormous dissonance between the goal of "kindness and goodness toward all mankind" and the acts of hatred, bigotry and greed that so many who loudly and proudly display the mantle of Christianity seem to espouse.

      And I TOTALLY agree about Blogger's tiny comment box! I wonder if there's any way to hack that and make it bigger. Hmmm....

  2. I have always lived in communities where the majority of people were practicing Christians. I have found anyone who believes they are morally superior usually think they are superior in other ways. It's certainly not part of the doctrine that being a Christian makes you superior in any way.

    1. Perhaps what I'm reacting to is much more political than religious. I just don't understand the religious right wing - or the political right wing for that matter. But I suppose on some level it all boils down to insecurity. People who act superior generally do it because they're trying to compensate for a deeper but unacknowledged feeling of inferiority or helplessness - and I guess the same holds true for cultural groups. I guess the fear and insecurity trumps the whole "be kind to all humanity" thing - no pun intended!

      BTW - I couldn't figure out how to make the comment box bigger by default, but if you click on the little diagonal stripes in the bottom right hand of the comment box you can drag it to be a bit bigger which makes it much easier for the (ahem) long-winded among us.

    2. I'm not sure exactly how to word my thoughts, so bear with me. I agree with you that there is a difference between what I think of as "political" Christianity versus actually believing in Christ and following His teachings. I think there are many politicians who claim to be "Christian" because it garners political support but whose personal lives are diametrically opposed to what it means to be a Christian. I think Live and Learn did a good job of summarizing the core beliefs of Christianity. To add to what she said, there is a passage of scripture which I think sums up how I am a Christian should live (Micah 6:8 if you are curious). "He has shown you, oh people, what is good and what the Lord requires of you; to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God". Justice should reflect our concern for the weaker among us who need a voice ... mercy is kindness and forgiveness, even to those who have wronged us ... humility before God is giving Him credit instead of patting ourselves on the back or drawing attention to ourselves for our "good" deeds. I am not a great scholar or theologian so bear that in mind when you read my comments!

      Please remember that the religious right wing is not necessarily the viewpoint of all of those who are Christians. They are just louder than the rest of us.

    3. Oops, meant to say "as a Christian", not "am a Christian"

    4. Hi Kris, Thanks so much for such a thoughtful reply. I do know that the right wing wackos are not representative of all Christians, and my comments/criticisms were intended toward that community, not toward Christianity as a whole. Or maybe there are evangelicals who are not right wing and don't support the politics of hate? I don't really know, to me the terms "evangelical" and "conservative right wing" seem synonymous.

      Anyhow, I still have a really hard time understanding why this sort of thing doesn't strike any of them as problematic. I guess extremism is like that - people conveniently see only what that want to in order to justify their own prejudices and behavior.

  3. i too am non christian and my views are very similar to yours. i have trouble understanding why my neighbor actually told me she is a better person because of her beliefs. im sorry, but God does not make garbage and i dont think He cares how we worship Him, just that we do thank Him for everything we are given in life.

    1. I'm sorry for your experience with your neighbor, that's just unacceptable IMHO. I've been fortunate not to have had many of those sorts of encounters - of course I tend to surround myself with left wing hippies, so there aren't too many people in my circle who adhere to "traditional" belief systems!

  4. As a Christian, I second what Kris and live and learn have said. And yes, you are only noticing just a small part of Christianity - the loud, angry, spiritually immature ones perhaps. And sad to say, just because a person proclaims to be a Christian doesn't mean that mental health issues are immediately taken care of.

    All of the Christians I know either are appalled by Trump and would never vote for him, or they hold their nose and vote for him because they believe that a Republican-led government is the best. Don't shoot the messenger; I'm just reporting what I see.

    I too get dismayed by Christians when they don't act how I think they should. But I also get dismayed by any human that doesn't act right - whether they proclaim to have more noble aspirations or not. For example, did you know that as Thoreau was inspired by nature and solitude, his mom and others would cook his food and clean up his laundry ( Good for Thoreau, but the same old drudgery for the women in his life.

    So believe me when I say there is a lot more variation out there in the Christian faith than evangelicals. (They aren't my spokespeople!) And even within the evangelical movement, there is more variation than mindless ones voting Republican. It's just not so black and white.

    1. Ha! I had heard that Thoreau's retreat to the woods was not quite as "rugged" as it may have seemed, but I didn't know that it was the women in his life doing the dirty work. I guess "enlightenment" only goes so far, eh?

      Anyhow, I really wasn't trying to criticize Christianity or Christians as a whole - I'm just trying to wrap my brain around the contradictions that I see in the behavior of the Christian right... I mean, how does it not make smoke come out of their ears?

      At first I thought it was all about abortion, and that at least makes a little bit of sense. But what doesn't make sense about that is that if you thought abortion was horrible (which I sorta do even though I think it should be safe and legal) then wouldn't you be trying to do everything possible to make sure women had access to birth control, and/or to make it economically feasible for poor single women to deal with raising a child? But instead they do the opposite. And why are they so dead set against policies that would at least protect a woman who was having a miscarriage or whose life was otherwise put at risk by the pregnancy?

      I dunno... perhaps I just need to stop expecting people to make logical sense. We're not logical creatures after all.

      My father (who was raised as a strict Catholic) has always said that Christianity is evil because it teaches people that the only way to salvation is by believing something which is obviously untrue - which is actually a tactic used in torture. So once you've gotten them to deny reality in one way, it makes it much easier to get them to deny it in others - and thereby to be controlled and manipulated by people who do not have their best interest in mind. I always thought that was overblown, but honestly this stuff makes me think that at least where a certain portion of the population is concerned, he might have a point.

    2. I love it that you are asking good questions, Cat, and I wish more people, both Christians and non-Christians, would do the same. I think we should try to build bridges, not walls, and no, that wasn't an overt political statement, but if the shoe fits .....

      In full disclosure, and usually I don't "go there" with anyone outside my immediate family, I have the same concerns about the whole abortion thing .... to me, logic would say that we need to be concerned about life throughout the whole life cycle and I agree that there are inconsistencies with the overall political mindset.

      If you look at the life of Christ, there are a lot of the same kinds of issues that you are talking about--the powerful Jewish religious leaders didn't like Him because they saw that the masses were drawn to His message so they tried to discredit Him (I think that many of the messages in the gospel section of the Bible about hypocrisy was aimed at them--the religious leaders of the time used their "faith" as a power expedient rather than allowing it to change who they were for the better). Many of the Jewish community thought that Jesus had come to improve the political system with Rome. To me, the over-arching message of Christ was that God had bigger plans in mind than addressing politics and the power structure--He wanted to change lives through Christ, and He was reaching out to all people, not just a small segment of the population. Again, looking at the life of Jesus, He consistently reached out to the under-represented (women and children, the lower class population i.e. Samaritans .... ) and sought to elevate their status.

      I feel like I am getting into deeper waters than I have the knowledge or ability to talk about, so I'm going to wind up my long-winded comments. Again, thank you for asking questions--you have a diversity of readers and I think it's because you are willing to ask and consider different viewpoints and I love that about your blog. My family and I have discovered a pastor/teacher named Tim Mackie. We enjoy his teaching videos (not scary right-wing, I promise) and have found it helpful in wading through teachings about our faith (I'm sure there are those out there who don't care for him and his teachings, but we all have a right to disagree). Here's a link if you are interested--most of his videos are quick to watch and he has a fun way of illustrating his points. You might want to start with Biblical themes as I feel it offers a good overall picture. Or if I've dumped too much info on you, it won't hurt my feelings if you ignore it! :)


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Thanks, and have a fabulous day!