20 Point American Rant

Thanks to Geoff Holsclaw for this link to get one thinking (one may not agree with every single point).

Read on just in case the link doesn’t work … (quite an exercise of self-therapy I must say *smile*)

Summers at home bring me into regular contact with Christians who still have issues with things that just shouldn’t be issues with Christians. So I apologize if the following doesn’t really interest any of you. This is pure therapy.

I am sick and tired of Christians who apply their faith to a set of pet issues while ceding the rest of the moral world to the Republican party platform. It is a lukewarm Church that uncritically accepts the economic, political, and international status quo and condemns as ‘liberal’ and ‘unpatriotic’ those who dare to test social realities against the Biblical visions of the Kingdom of God and to call for reform when those realities fall short of the glory of God. Therefore, I submit this rant:

1. America is not God, and Americans are not God’s chosen people. Prosperity is not proof of righteousness. If you would claim to be a Christian, then you are a Christian before you are an American. Period.

2. America was founded just as much or more on Enlightenment Deism as it was on the Bible. And even if it was supposed to have been founded on the Bible, its history of slavery, conquest, and Manifest Destiny should be enough to convince anyone that it did not remain true to any Biblical vision that may have inspired its beginnings. This does not mean there are no good things about America. This simply means that, as in any nation, there are many evil things, too, and Christians should be the first to recognize and condemn them. The support of Southern Christians for slavery, which still lingers today in the form of excuse-making and unapologetic nostalgia, is despicable.

3. If domestic policies like abortion should come under the scrutiny of the church, then so should foreign policies like wars and Third World debt. It is possible to be a patriot and disagree with my nation’s foreign policy. In fact, automatic support for American foreign policy simply because it is American is the very definition of unpatriotic – someone who doesn’t care enough for his country to try and stop it from going down the wrong path.

4. Abortion kills people. War kills people, too. Christians should be the most reluctant to go to war, the most cautious, the most ready to recognize the evils that are complicit even in just and necessary wars – they should not be singing along happily with Toby Keith songs about putting our boots up the asses of dirty Middle Easterners. Questions about going to war need serious moral examination, not the unconditional, always-available support of shallow ‘patriots’ who seem eager to betray commandments of the New Testament for the sake of a homeland in which they often profess to be ‘just a-passin’ through’.

5. Sex is not the most serious moral issue. Questions about sex are not inherently more pressing than questions about money, economics, the environment, war, debt, education, poverty, art, music, books, or gluttony. That sermons and youth group lessons devote so much time to things that concern individual people (like sex), and so little to things that concern large groups of people, is tremendously unhelpful. It is also tremendously unhelpful to cast sexuality as something that’s always evil until you get married. That’s like saying it’s wrong to get hungry until you sit down at the dinner table.

6. Homosexuality is not the Greatest Evil. Also, the story of Sodom and Gommorah is not about homosexuality.

7. Stories about brutal genocide in the Old Testament should not be passed over, as if it’s an easy thing to accept that God commanded people to skewer babies on pikes in order to judge their parents for sins that none of us today care about.

8. Philosophy is not evil. Philosophy is unavoidable. Everyone does philosophy. It’s just a question of whether you do it well or badly.

9. The following method for rating the moral status of movies is stupid: sex is the worst, language is second worst, and violence is mostly acceptable, as long as it isn’t rape. Why is it worse to hear the word ‘fuck’ than it is to see Arnold Schwartzeneggar blow someone’s brains out?

10. Dispensationalism is bad theology. The Left Behind series is supremely bad theology, and anyway the writing is horrible.

11. ‘Liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are useless terms. Equating Christianity with conservativism is profoundly ignorant and unhelpful.

12. The idea that 90% of climatologists are irresponsible ideologues, while Rush Limbaugh offers the objective and scientifically sound position on global warming, is simply incredible. It has to be a truly pathological strain of ‘common sense’ that legitimizes such lunacy.

13. There is a bounty of resources in the Christian faith for addressing environmental issues waiting desperately to be recognized and employed by the Church. Stewardship, the cultural mandate, creation order, frugality, humility, moderation, justice, Sabbath, the Kingdom of God . . . take your pick. It’s stupid to equate concern for the environment with ‘godless communism’.

14. To read the Bible like a science or history textbook is to read the Bible unbibically. Biblical literalism is unbiblical.

15. Politics should not be about winning power for Christian groups so we can ensure the moral purity of our nation. Politics should be about working for justice for all people.

16. Christians who passionately defend public postings of the Ten Commandments should be just as ready to passionately defend public postings of The Beatitudes.

17. Trying to figure out the reasons for things like terrorist attacks and anti-American sentiment, and wondering whether the US might have done anything to provoke those sentiments, is not unpatriotic. It’s just plain common sense.

18. The US probably shouldn’t provide weapons to one brutal dictator in order to topple another brutal dictator, and then condemn the first brutal dictator for having those weapons in order to validate the invasion and occupation of that dictator’s country at the cost of billions of dollars, hundreds of lives, and the stability of the region.

19. Smoking and drinking are health issues, not moral issues. Health itself is a moral issue, but that means that spreading card tables with pies and cobblers and sloppy joes and potato chips at church potlucks is just as morally significant as smoking and drinking. The principle should be moderation, not mindless abstinence.

20. Evolution happens. That it happens does not mean God is dead, or that the Bible is worthless, or even that evolution is an air-tight theory – it just means that Genesis isn’t a scientific document. If you want to challenge the theory of evolution, fine – but don’t challenge it by brandishing copies of Genesis 1&2 and publishing stupid picture books that glean anecdotal evidence for a young earth from the story of Noah’s flood.

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