When war with Iraq appeared imminent, I asked the minister at our local church to speak out on the teachings of Jesus concerning the folly of war. I harbored the delusion that if enough ministers in enough churches did so, perhaps the nation might avoid plunging headlong into a war for dubious – at best – reasons.
The minister declined, of course, and attempted to put me off with a typical theological cop-out.
“At some point,” he said, “it’s all in God’s hands.”
I replied, “What if you’re right and God doesn’t think this war is a good idea?”
After ten years, millions of lives lost or ruined, and trillions of dollars wasted, perhaps we have the answer.
• • •
I bring-up this sad old news because, like George W. Bush, most of the Republican candidates applying for his old job have a nasty habit of presuming they know the mind of God and assuming God is on their side. But we know what happens when you assume on such a grand scale – it can lead to you make an international ass of yourself.
Take Bush, please! Obviously, something got lost in translation – or else God lied about WMD. Or maybe not. Bush said he didn’t want to be confused with all those messy, confusing facts, so he relied on his gut to make monumental decisions. Who knows? Maybe we went to war because Bush consumed too much beer and barbecue and mistook the rumbling in his gut for the voice of God.
Believe what you will about Bush knowing God’s will, but something is dreadfully wrong with a man who views God and Gut as oracles of equal perspicacity.
Now comes Bush’s even more doltish successor as governor of Texas, Rick Perry, to claim the blessing of God on his candidacy. But again, something must have gotten lost in translation, since Sarah Palin claims God wants her to be President.
Then there’s Michelle Bachmann, who claims God sends earthquakes and hurricanes to get people’s attention. But then she also claimed the Founders ended slavery – has she never heard of the Civil War? Why does anyone pay any attention to someone so pathetically ignorant?
At least Bachmann has a flimsy excuse – she’s following the not-so-shining example of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other dopey high priests in the Evangelical movement. Apparently, these people are too willfully blind to see their pronouncements turn God into a horrific monster who punishes the innocent for the sins of the wicked.
• • •
Christian conservative candidates have been so wrong so often about what God wants, you’d think they’d be a bit more circumspect in their pronouncements. You’d think; but they don’t.
The same thoughtlessness that poisons their politics also poisons their faith. Many – if not most – cling steadfastly but foolishly to a literal interpretation of a compilation of books all too obviously filled with superstitious nonsense and suspect history.
They claim the poetic metaphors of Genesis as the literal truth about Creation – and the most ignorant among them claim it happened in six twenty-four hour days six-thousand years or so ago. They swallow with equally unstrained credulity the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the whale, virgin birth, resurrection and so much more without a shred of proof – or a moment’s thought.
Yet perversely, these same people refuse to accept the monumental evidence supporting the theory of Evolution. The perpetrators and purveyors of the thinly-disguised Creationist nonsense called Intelligent Design demand to see the complete fossil record over the last four billion years – while providing no real evidence for their claims other than something they call “irreducible complexity”, which they attribute to things like the human eye. But complexity is an argument for Evolution, not against it.
Despite extolling the godlike virtue of the eyes, these people remain willfully blind to the truth. When it comes to Evolution, the old Bible passage rings ironically true – blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.
What should trouble these people – but doesn’t – is that God always seems to agree with them. They never stop to consider they might be wrong. But what if the truth is as I posed the question to my minister – what if God doesn’t agree with them? What if God is trying to tell them something quite different?
• • •
"And God said: My Chosen People did not obey my commandments, so I sent my Son to bring an even simpler message unto them: Feed the poor. But instead, they delivered him up to be crucified. In my wrath, I set the Romans to scatter them like chaff to the wind.
In latter days, a tribe that proclaimed itself the New Chosen People somehow twisted my message to “Feed the poor” into "God wants you to be rich". Woe unto ye Blasphemers!
So I sent a false prophet named Reagan to prey upon them and use their pride and greed to lull them into a false sense of security. To confound them further, I sent more false prophets, the high priests of the Randian Heresy, to preach among them. Fools paid them heed and followed them into madness.
I sent mad dogs of war, the demons Bush and Cheney, to impoverish them by beating their plowshares into swords. I sent a plague of locusts disguised as money-lenders to strip them bare of all their possessions; yea, even unto the equity in their houses.
I sent shrieking harpies Sarah and Michelle to torment their souls, and yet some harkened unto these vacuous temptresses. Woe unto him who is seduced by a comely countenance; for lo, it often hideth a shrill tongue and a shrewish nature.
Yet through all these plagues upon their houses, their hearts remained hardened. Must I now send Satan himself disguised as the demon Perry?"
• • •
Who’s to say my interpretation of these “signs” isn’t at least as valid as theirs? What if this is God’s message – a message that has fallen on deaf ears and closed minds?
By the way, who says God is a Conservative? Certainly, the teachings of Jesus were so radically liberal about pacifism and communism that most Christian Conservatives want nothing to do with them. No, for them religion is merely a means of getting a piece of the action in those gold-paved streets in Heaven.
Let me be clear -- this isn’t to question the Christian faith so much as it is to question those who by all appearances are genetically incapable of questioning any aspect of that faith – the people my friend Elizabeth Perryman refers to as Kindergarten Kristians.
Aristotle said the unexamined life is not worth living; I say the unexamined faith is not worth having.
©2011 Tom Cordle