May 22, 2011

Can I quote REM yet?

Because I do feel fine. Not sure about Smitty's "Jesusly Aunt and Uncle (in-laws)", and I feel a little sorry for those taken in by Harold Camping's nonsense. This obsession with the Rapture certainly reflects anxiety and frustration with living on this earth. I get part of that, but this need to abandon the world strikes me as counter to the message of the gospel. Natalie points to an excellent allegory by Peter Rollins that addresses this very idea. And as NT Wright (and our friend Greg) notes, the belief in the "rapture" comes from one single verse.

And speaking of the Bible, I have been fascinated to read how the far right responded to Obama's Israel speech. I heard snippets last week and thought that he was appropriately critical of Palestinians, and noted that Israel would have to also make concessions. That is what happens when people negotiate--something Israel seems to have no interest in any longer. Not that the Palestinians haven't made negotiations difficult. They have. As have their Arab neighbors who love the rhetoric of wiping out Israel. Middle eastern leaders who love to appeal to their fundamentalist population--well, that just reminds me of the right wing here.

And speaking of that, it has been amazing to see the right rise up and denounce Obama as somehow throwing Israel under some kind of public transportation. What did he do? He articulated the same policy for the two-state solution that Bush and Clinton supposedly supported. But with Obama, and the right wing who wants to see him as unAmerican and foreign, this same policy is now treason.

These threads combine for me, because this adoration of Israel is wrapped in that end times bullshit of the Rapture. And both annoy me for some of the same reasons--an incredibly internal and self-centered faith. Ancient texts are not ancient, but were written solely for suburbanites who like bad novels. Settlement on the West Bank doesn't involve real people--both Israeli and Arab--but is some puzzle piece to bring on the second coming--for whom? Those same suburbanites. Middle eastern cultures, so foreign to our American experience, are somehow appropriated for purely American-centric points of view.

I struggle with my own faith. But I firmly believe that at its core, it is about understanding that we are not at the center of the universe--either as individuals or as Americans. That seems to have been lost in American churches waving flags and cheering torture. Perhaps Harold Camping's insane or cynical fraud will cause some thought about that. I am not hopeful, but will hope, nonetheless.

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