Saturday, October 27, 2012

11 Alternatives For My Gun-Toting Christian Brother

Christians are not called to be heroes or shoppers. We are called to be holy. We do not think that holiness is an individual achievement, but rather a set of practices to sustain a people who refuse to have their lives determined by the fear and denial of death.
Stanley Hauerwas

Sixty-two percent of [Paul Ryan's budget] cuts come from programs for low-income people. Bread for the World, the great hunger group, says that to make up for his food stamp cuts alone, it would cost $50,000 a year from every church in the country.
EJ Dionne

The Raw Story reported yesterday on a Christian conference in Texas where the keynote speaker Dr. Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission told participants that the US had a broken morality because we have elected “politicians who could justify killing babies made in the image of God” and “justify redefining God’s institution of marriage.” This, albeit highly contested within the American Body of Christ, is standard political logic in conservative Christian churches.

But then Cass proposed a new litmus test (at least, one that I hadn't heard before): "you can’t be a Christian if you don’t own a gun." He explained his "gospel" reasoning:

You have not just a right to bear arms, you have a duty. How can you protect yourself, your family or your neighbor if you don’t have a gun? If I’m supposed to love my neighbor and I can’t protect him, what good am I?

This is some of the most absurd rhetoric currently on the Christian market and, I strongly suspect, it starts with a theology that solely focuses on the death of Jesus, always interpreted as a sacrificial necessity that brings "believers" to God and guarantees them life in heaven after they die. A religion that spiritualizes and futurizes salvation most often struggles with providing a radical vision for a compelling and sacrificial way-of-life. Only when this belief-system is utilized largely by angry, fearful middle-aged white guys, are statements like this even imaginable. This kind of macho, tough-guy religion clings to privilege & control while turning the common good into a series of paternalistic charity cases.

Far too many Christians who make dogmatic statements about abortion and gay marriage (and apparently now gun ownership?) remain indifferent to, or altogether neglect, the radical socio-economic-political vision of New Testament Christian faithfulness as subversively storied in passages like the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and its reiteration in Romans 12 or the consistent call to generously use our resources to care for "the least of these" (hundreds of passages scattered all over the Hebrew Bible and New Testament). Many of these same folks downplay the historic fact at the very center of Christian faith and praxis that Jesus laid down his life for the world (the exact opposite of wiping out the bad guys through "redemptive" killing).

Because EasyYolk is about a non-narcissistic, non-self-serving, non self-indulgent spirituality that is deeply committed to serving the less privileged in the world, we believe that followers of the Prince of Peace ought to pledge the refusal of all violent solutions so that our spirited, compassionate imaginations can plant seeds of hope and redemption. Like a little leaven, Love will slowly rise and overwhelm the violence, hatred and greed surrounding our lives.

Here are 10 seeds that all people of faith and conscience can plant and water to actually saturate our neighbors with love (and protection):

1. Either demand that Congress and the President fully fund food stamps or make sure that your church kicks in $50,000 to feed the nation's hungry (see this--hint: any proposal that has "block grants" in them is terrible news for the poor) or both.

2. Either support Obama's Health Care Reform or advocate for a policy change that actually makes health care available for all Americans (in other words, don't schlep off the issue with fraudulent & unthoughtful statements about how "lazy" or "dependent" low-income Americans are).

3. Support your local soup kitchen (don't falsely claim that these non-profit organizations are magnets that increase your community's "homeless problem").

4. Turn off cable news channels that feed off hysteria and myopia. Click on non-corporate journalism (like this) that is entirely dedicated to keeping power elites accountable, regardless of political party.

5. Refuse to buy food and clothes produced with labor "rewarded" with dehumanizing wages and no benefits.

6. Support political candidates who refuse to be whored-out to corporations and finanacial institutions (Q: What if our leaders used $700 billion to rescue homeowners instead of banks? A: We'd have more neighbors.).

7. Support the government funding of higher education so that our neighbors' children can afford to go to college.

8. Hug an undocumented worker, thank her for her hard work and remind her that Jesus was accused of "criminal" activity too.

9. Instead of investing in a gun, invest in Oikocredit. This great organization will transform your excess into low-interest microloans for lower-income entrepreneurs.

10. Put down your gun and pick up a hammer to build homes for "the least of these."

11. Pray the Prayer of The Farm Worker's Struggle (Written by Cesar E. Chavez, UFW Founder (1927-1993)

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people's plight.

Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me to take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.

Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.

Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.

Bring forth song and celebration;
So that spirit will be alive among us.

Let the spirit flourish and grow;
So we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world

3 comments:

  1. I CAN NOT BELIEVE THAT CASS DUDE SAID THAT!!!! WHOLLY CRAP!!! Great blog Uncle....as always!!! Love the seeds!!!

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  2. This is what I find so despicable about religions, and before I start talking about problems with religion, I will state that a large problem is that people need to feel needed or that they need to belong (to something or a movement). Since people like belonging to a something, like a group or cult, etc., they will not only go to incredible lengths but they will force their (agendas, self, ways, beliefs or whatever they might want to force onto others.

    As you quoted, “Sixty-two percent of [Paul Ryan's budget] cuts come from programs for low-income people. Bread for the World, the great hunger group, says that to make up for his food stamp cuts alone, it would cost $50,000 a year from every church in the country.” I think that is really smart. Church and state should absolutely be separate and NO money should be given to churches/religions. I do quite well understand that there are many churches out there that have programs to help hungry/homeless people, I am not being sarcastic here, I know this to be true. But churches should not be subsidized by the govt., moreover on the previous point, mentioning that churches/religions help feed the needy, well, so do secular groups. And here is the kicker to this part, if you want to be a truly good, nice or compassionate person, you don’t need to belong to a religious group. Please give your time and help freely to give to less fortunate people. Furthermore, there are many secular non-profit organizations out there that help the needy. I wish it were completely that way, as a matter of fact, I believe that being a secular person who gives to the needy is doing a greater good than the religious. The religious probably has someone or something gnawing away at them; guilt, feelings of forced responsibilities, required time, gifts or money, there seems to always be something that is not quite as pure when a religious person gives as when the pure of heart secular person gives. Secularists who give freely, do just that, they give freely, they are not tied or bound to do so other than it makes them feel good to give. So go ahead and belong to a group if you must, Oxfam, Amnesty Int’l, if you must, but you DO NOT have to belong to a religious group to be good or to take from the govt., remember you could go do it yourself.

    In regards to Dr. Gary Cass’s quote; “You have not just a right to bear arms, you have a duty. How can you protect yourself, your family or your neighbor if you don’t have a gun? If I’m supposed to love my neighbor and I can’t protect him, what good am I?” Hey Gary Cass, go F*@# your mouth. It would be interesting if someone could tell me that I was as ludicrous as Cass if I were to say that there should be ZERO firearms in the world. Tell me how that is a bad idea? If I can call Cass a stupid person, because of his extreme position, then I guess I do not mind if someone were to call me stupid for making the statement that I have made about me wanting the world to be firearm-free. But if one takes the time to curse me for my statement, then they should at least give enough time to think about what has been said by both sides. Make the world a better place by giving guns or hugs to people?

    And so, here is another perfect example why religions suck. They are terrible because the group mentality goes something like this; I am a good person or at least my way of thinking is correct (the best), I belong to said group and now, because of conviction, responsibility to what has been said/done, I now need to back up what this group believes. In reality what has/is happening is thus; I am part of an idiotic group, guns are cool - so says my group, and we DO NOT LIKE OTHERS/FOREIGNERS. Lets us now use our guns to make this world a better place (for us) and F_ _ _ everyone else.

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  3. It is not just middle aged white men, it is so many groups, the world-over, from Malcom-X, to the Black Panthers, to Muslims, Neo-Nazi’s, The Branch Davidians or Jonestown to the entire BRAINWASHED country of China (I’ll take any leniency here, it’s most probable that the entire country of China is not brainwashed). As every citizen of China may not have a gun to try to kill the evil capitalists of the world, they are trying to change the world the way that they want the world to be. Much like the majority of the BRAINWASHED religious. Being religious does not make that person better than any other person, it makes you weaker, poorer, shepherded and more susceptible.

    You have really hit the nail on the head here, when you mentioned a religion that spiritualizes and futureizes salvation, well then, holy shit - we ALL need to watch out at that point, because who knows what will happen or just exactly what will they do? As a matter of fact, it sounds like God gives His followers carte blanche at that point. So, go pick up your firearms and do as you please, you have God on your side, and it seems to be that I am the perfect target for you, because I am such a heathen/Misotheist (if I believed in God that is).

    radical socio-economic-political vision of New Testament Christian faithfulness as subversively storied in passages
    Here you have hit upon another note of contention, where this simply cannot be true. It cannot be true because of the following, fore, while there are many different Christians throughout the world, there a few things that all of them should have, and you have just mentioned one of them, which is that The Bible is told to be a “living book,” which it cannot be, it cannot change, it is dead-done. It is written, there is the Alpha and Omega - Amen. But while the Bible is preached as a living document, people make it that. And THAT is the problem, The Bible is so many DIFFERENT things to every person,it has “good” and “bad” scripture(s) and the likes, which means that EACH person MAKES the Bible (and therefore their life) what THEY WANT it (the Bible and their life) to be.

    Tommy, I love you, and you ARE IN FACT a wonderful person, and I love that you make the Bible out to be about a socio-economic-political document/book that you live by, but that’s your take and it is certainly not Dr. Cass’s Bible. I am sure I would be the way of the Amalekites if Dr. Cass had it his way. Too bad we cannot hear from the Amalekites, because they’re all dead, thanks to religion, the Torah/Bible or whatever other evil religious book (etc.) is out there.

    I love and agree with most all of what you said 1 - 11.

    As Much Love as I Can Give,
    Trevor
    (I am sorry if it seems as though I re-instate some of what you have said, but I read a paragraph and then I write down what is in my mind.)

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