Thursday, April 08, 2010

WWJB? (What Would Jesus Blog?)

On the Afro-Punk website message board (I think my link to the right still works), someone started a discussion on contemporary religious practices in the USA and the views towards non-mainstream faith practices. At some point, this author chimed in regarding his general preference for a more liberal-leaning faith community. The poster Something Else wanted me to elaborate on this angle. And so:

In short, I'd define such a community as one where, philosophically, it is not inordinately focused on dogma.. Pragmatically speaking, this would be a place where, for example, gay folk are not called out for being part of the "reason" why there is suffering in the world/USA; where Intellectual honesty is uplifted rather than baseless rumormongering, i.e., Obama is a closet muslim & Marxist-style socialist/communist. This would be a community of folks who genuinely look to the examples of Jesus in the Gospels (reaching out to the sick, outcasts, foreigners, promoting communal sharing, critiquing fundamentalism among 'scholars') instead of reflexively holding onto Old-Testament worldviews and judgement on everything that they don't like (http://tinyurl.com/yje3et7 ).

This would be a community not hung up on how "The liberal culture" promotes social tolerance, and spinning that into the notion that, having a sex-ed class in school effectively teaches kids to be gay and/or promiscuous.. As far as it relates to popular culture, this would be a community of folks who don't have inordinate hangups about trends in popular music, fashion or movies, even if certain films, TV, or music are really not their thing.. In other words, they're not trying to thump in your head that you're going to Hell for liking the Terminator, The Simpsons, hard rock, rap, and they don't uplift the angle of "Pagan Fantasy" when it comes to things like Harry Potter, Pokemon, Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, etc.

This would be a community of folks who don't have a problem with 'leftist' activism at least where it concerns labor rights, civil rights, environmental respect, financial reform, health care reform, etc. This would be a community that promotes gender respect-- uplifting the role of men & women as leaders, giving respect where it is due (i.e., rejecting the trend of a male pastor getting sole credit for an event where most of the grunt-work is done by women); This would be a community that rejects the hyper-formality of many contemporary churches where the pastor is "only" referred to as 'Pastor', even in non-church, non-event settings, and one-on-one conversations can only be arranged through a string of go-between deacons, elders and/or secretaries. This would be a community of folks who are troubled by developments like prolonged wars and jingoistic foreign policy. They would not uncritically accept the idea of Jesus bombing anyone, including "nonbelievers".. This would be a community of folks that, despite their own strong beliefs in Christ and His message, they hold no grudge against interacting with those of other faiths, even the tacit bigotry of "gosh, they're nice enough folks, too bad they're Buddhist" types of attitudes.
This would be a community of folks that rejects "Prosperity Gospel". They would believe in supporting their home ministry but not at the downgrading of one's own existence; these folks would blanche at the notion that their pastor(s) have to be so much more wealthy than the congregants, just for the sake that church leadership can "hold court" with other affluent people (i.e, captains of industry, politicians, etc.).

Lastly, this would be a community of folks who are not hung up on the idea that Armageddon/The Rapture will be coming in their lifetime, or even in their children's lifetime, and therefore uncritically support chaotic middle-east conflicts, instead of supporting-- and demanding from elected officials-- peaceful diplomatic solutions. In short, these would be folks that bypass all the right wing demagoguery (in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.) that defines much of ministry in the contemporary world, and the United States in particular.
Especially among the 'religious' types who now form the base of the Republican Party/conservative activism, the hardliners among my Catholic contemporaries would see me as a recalcitrant backslider for being pro-choice (among other things) and the most hardcore of Evangelical types see me as an Illuminati sympathizer/Vatican apologist/child-molestation advocate by default.. I would respect black Republicans a lot more if I heard anything from them that was different from Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Pat Robertson, etc.. I have my own issues with what I feel is a hyper-centrist culture in contempoary Democrats, but i'll take their general platform vs. what Michael Steele & co. have to offer.

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