March 30, 2011

Where the Christian right have taken us

SOF and I had a conversation about the idea of fasting. And that very next day, the Monk posted the very verse she had mentioned, from Isaiah 58:
2 Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.
3 "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.
4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?"
I honestly don't know what to make of these wisdom texts. I don't know that they come directly from God, only that they have stood some test of time. But I also know that many who wear that book on their sleeve and use it to attack my gay friends and stand firm on abortion--I have my doubts that they have actually read this. Or that it matters to them.

Today (or yesterday) our governor declared a day of oilfield prayer. Or something like that. I don't have a problem with that--as far as it goes, but she noted that there was no prayer for the 5000 + kids with severe developmental disabilities who wait for some kind of assistance. All, of course, in a state that wears that bible on its sleeve, of course. But our Governor brags about cutting taxes on the rich, and cutting services for the poor. She is a Republican. That is what they do.

But tell me that is not oppressing our workers and defending the rich and powerful. Show me, someone, how that represents the message of Christ. Seriously. Show me where we are called to help the comfortable and well-heeled?

Today, I found a challenging post from an unlikely source. Mark Bittman is one of my favorite food authors--and I use his cookbooks often. Today, he notes why he is fasting to protest the cuts in spending for the poor. To be very clear, I don't know that his use of the word fast is any better than others. But he notes the central outrage of our time:
This isn’t about skepticism, however; it’s about ironies and outrages. In 2010, corporate profits grew at their fastest rate since 1950, and we set records in the number of Americans on food stamps. The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all American households combined, the effective tax rate on the nation’s richest people has fallen by about half in the last 20 years, and General Electric paid zero dollars in U.S. taxes on profits of more than $14 billion. Meanwhile, roughly 45 million Americans spend a third of their posttax income on food — and still run out monthly — and one in four kids goes to bed hungry at least some of the time.
And Republicans cut funding for child nutrition, immunization programs, and assistance for the disabled. All to accomplish exactly nothing for the deficit, actually, but much to punish the weak and vulnerable, while defending the rich and the powerful.

All of this does not make me look at evangelical Christianity with anything other than confusion. How people who read the Bible can look at all of this and still vote Republican is beyond me.


leighton said...

How people who read the Bible can look at all of this and still vote Republican is beyond me.

I don't think many do. The Bible is like the Constitution in that you're supposed to wave it as a token of tribal authority, not actually read it.

Streak said...

Good point, Leighton. I agree.

Oh, and I realized that I left something out. Our governor didn't express concern about the children, a friend did. Our governor is a republican who takes pride in cutting programs for the poor and cutting already low taxes for the well off.

Monk-in-Training said...

Leigton is correct, though most Conservatives would dispute him.

I come from this culture that believes itself to be soaked in 'Biblical' principles that actually comes from Fox News et al, not the Sacred Word of God. Most don't even realize it.

I didn't.

I was awakened by events in my life back 18 years ago, and then I was able to articulate that idea much better with an essay written in the early to mid 2000's by the late Michael Spencer, a once shining light of Evangelical thought. Please forgive this excerpt:

How many conservative Christians are listening to multiple hours of Rush Limbaugh every week? I wonder how many include a couple of hours of Fox News Channel's conservatives, Hannity and O'Reilly, on that menu. I wonder how many regularly listen to Marlin Maddux's "Point of View" program, or Pat Robertson's "700 Club." How many surf, Conservative News Network or WorldNet, the tabloids of conservative web journalism? If we were to take the total hours devoted to these--and many, many other--conservative information and opinion outlets, how would it compare to the amount of time spent under the teaching of scripture? How would it compare to time spent in acquiring a Biblical vision of God? Does the total amount of time spent by that same random evangelical in "the renewing of the mind" with the Word of God come even close to the amount of time spent seeing the world through the eyes of conservative pundits and journalists?

I note this not out of paranoid fantasy, but out of watching my friends immerse themselves in this new world of conservative media. Whether it is the Christian variety or the secular flavor, it doesn't matter. Millions who seldom open a Bible are spending hours under the "preaching" of the conservative political movement in America.

Many Evangelical Christians have been seduced by right wing media and don't even realize the tickle in their itching ears, because they like what they hear.

Smitty said...

By the way...what is an oilfield prayer? My brain is trying to tell me that it's a call to pray that Texan oilfields produce (magically) more oil or that it keep flowing or some such. But I really want to ignore my brain and say "no way! Nobody would urge the citizens of their state to pray for oil fields to produce more oil! This *must* be a phrase that means something else, what with all those weird Southern colloquialisms like 'mad as a wet hen'!"

Was it really a prayer to the false idol of your oilfields?

Streak said...

Smitty, <a href=">here it is</a>.

Smitty said...

...all natural resources are created by God" and the industry provides "...a better quality of life for our fellow citizens" to name a few.


Tuesday marked the first annual day of prayer where hundreds of people gathered, not only pray for government and oilfield leaders


WOW. False idols, anyone??