Saturday, October 27, 2012
11 Alternatives For My Gun-Toting Christian Brother
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.
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