[anzac] REBUKE from the SECULAR PRESS

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From: "ANZAC Prophetic List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2004 13:40:57 -0600
NOTE:  Be warned that the below article is full of the typical
Liberal/ Secular bias. You need to know that. But if we can 
see past the bias and the anger, we find that this journalist is
actually making some strong points that we truly need to ponder.
Sometimes it can be educational to read an "outside" opinion....
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Published Mon, Nov 29, 2004 by the Free-Lance Star, 
Fredricksburg, Virginia: 

"If You Read the Gospels...."
-by Rick Mercier.

Was Jesus a big winner in the last election? 
You'd sure think so. If the pundits and Religious Right zealots are 
correct, the Son of God scored a knockout victory on Nov. 2. 
We've had it drilled into our heads that something known as "moral 
values" was decisive in the election. Some worked-up commentators 
have even said we're on the brink of a second Great Awakening. All 
this hype about the God talk swirling around in our culture prompted 
me to do a little research (a big departure from how I usually prepare
for writing a column). I cracked open my Bible and started rereading 
the Gospels. And you know what? I can't see what all this 
sanctimonious values rhetoric has to do with Jesus. I've compared 
what I read in Gospels with what I've been hearing from the Religious 
Right, and I've concluded that the holier-than-thous must have 
traded in their red-letter editions of the Good Book for red-state 
versions that omit most of Jesus' teachings. 

The truth is, if you depend on the Christian right for your theological
sustenance, you probably won't recognize the Jesus of the 
Gospels. Jesus was quite a troublemaker. In fact, I'm thinking the 
Bush administration would have a special place for Jesus were the 
swarthy Nazarene to take up his ministry today in the U.S. of A.--in 
a cell with other Middle Eastern men awaiting deportation. Let's 
recall what the Jesus of the Gospels espoused. "When you give a 
banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And 
you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you," the sandal-
wearing rabble-rouser was known to say. That sounds pretty good, 
but it makes you realize that JC would never have reached "Ranger"
or "Pioneer" status in the Bush fund-raising machine. 

Then, of course, there's Jesus' encounter with the rich ruler who 
said he was a righteous man because he'd followed the Ten 
Commandments since his youth (though he gave no indication
that he'd ever erected a monument dedicated to them in a public 
place). Jesus told the ruler: "There is still one thing lacking. Sell 
all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you 
will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When the 
ruler started looking glum, Jesus responded with his famous 
kicker: "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the 
kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through 
the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the 
kingdom of God." Holy class warfare!....  I've no intention of 
turning this column into a Sunday school lesson, so I'll ease 
up on the Bible quotes. But go ahead and read the Gospels for 
yourself, and see if you can reconcile the Jesus you encounter 
in those texts with the Jesus the Religious Right wields as a 
battle-ax. If you're a thoughtful, independent-minded person, I'll 
bet you read the Gospels and wonder: Where in America does 
this Jesus dwell? Where in America is the Jesus who sides with 
the poor and the outcasts? Where in America is the Jesus who 
disdains those who wear their piousness on their sleeves? Where 
in America is the the Jesus with the prophetic voice, the radical 
who dares to tell the powerful what they don't want to hear? Is he 
in the pews that fill every Sunday morning with the smug and
complacent?

You may observe that other things are missing from our fashionable 
"moral values" rhetoric. You may, for example, notice the absence 
of any critique of an economic system that turns Jesus' birthday 
into an opportunity to jump-start consumer spending. Or any 
critique of corporate control of the public's airwaves, which helps 
ensure the culture is saturated with sexuality and violence that 
appeal to the lowest common denominator but generate huge profits.

Where is the righteous conservative Christian politician who makes 
these things campaign issues, who talks about them as moral 
issues?

What many view as a great spiritual revival looks a lot to me like 
another stage of rot in American Christianity's corpse. Can the 
cadaver rise up? It doesn't seem hopeful. In contemporary 
America, the Jewish Palestinian whom many call their messiah 
has become just another Middle Easterner to be ignored or reviled. 

[-Rick Merceir is a writer and editor for The Free Lance-Star. He can 
be reached at rmercier@... ] 
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