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They say that the three topics to avoid at the dinner table are Sex, Politics, and Religion. Well, I talk about politics all the time, I'm about to talk about religion and if you need some good sex talk, I recommend you check out Sadie's place.
When I look at the conservative movement, I see the Sanhedrin all over again.
The Sanhedrin were bitter opponents of Jesus Christ. They were responsible for His arrest, "trial," and death sentence (see The Fateful Night) -
Why did they do it? Because they were scared that Jesus would threaten their power.
Religion is an institution like any other, once it becomes pervasive enough, people join, not because they want to promote the ideals, but because it is expected of them, or because they see it as an opportunity for self advancement.
Ask yourself, if you ever though about becoming a successful politician in America, would you ever become a Buddhist, or a Hindu, or a Muslim? No.
Once this institutional rot sets in you start to get leaders that have no interest in promoting the ideals, but are only interested in promoting the institution itself. Jesus then becomes a product to get people into the doors to donote their time and money. Jesus becomes all things to all people. His message gets changed or simplified to create broader appeal. Today's Christianity seems to have condensed its message down to "Jesus loves you". If you accept Jesus into your heart, God will love you, the Universe will smile down upon you, and you will be accepted into a fold of loving people.
Sounds good doesn't it? Where's the catch?
Well, in today's Christian world there really isn't one, because most of these big mega-churches have stripped the hard lifestyle stuff out of the Bible and created a message that is compatible with our own human desires. We still get to do whatever we want and be "moral" people. What a deal!
Its no coincidence that here in Oklahoma, deep in the Bible Belt we have such a high divorce rate despite having a church on every corner. Simply going to church will not make you a better person, especially if that church is only interested in keeping you there so they can milk you for money for new buildings.
In my mind its safe to assume, the bigger and fancier the church, the more watered down the message. Then again, some small churches are just big church wannabes.
The institutionalization of Christ's message began almost immediately after his death. Read through the Bible past the Gospels, through Acts and the various Letters. You will see the transformation of Jesus' message and the tailoring of that message to have broader appeal. In particular you will notice that the Apostles really tone down Jesus' hang ups with rich people. People still use passages out of those post-gospel books to justify their own greed and bigotry. Silly me, I thought, being a Christian meant that you put the words of Jesus first. (Not that I agree with everything Jesus said, but then again, I'm not an adherent.)
The apostles knew that just like today, you don't go anywhere without the support of the rich and powerful people. I'm sure they thought they were doing what was "necessary" to build the church. It worked too, through conquests and conversion Christianity eventually grew into one of the most dominant religions on the Earth.
There exists within the church a division between people that push for the primacy of Jesus' message and those that push for growing the church. The two goals CAN be compatible, or they can incompatible. I meet people all the time that believe the best way to convert me are to make me feel guilty, appeal for my need to belong, and if that doesn't work they try to scare me with threats of Hell. I also meet Christians that believe in converting people through example. They are out there serving soup and donating their time to charity. I respect those people, immensely. I hope they win the struggle for the heart of the Christian church, but I know they are outnumbered and outfunded by the first group; the ones that I see speeding down the highway in their Lexus' with license plates that say "BLESSD" or some such shit. Or even better I love the people that put their Icthus (sp?) symbols right above their car logos, as if being a Christian is another brand they sport.
The people out there working to make the world a better place for the poor and the hungry don't need a church to live out Christ's message. They understand, as I did one Sunday morning, that buildings, symbols, and cliches mean nothing if you are still rotten, greedy, judgmental and self righteous.
Can you guess how I feel about Bush's version of Christianity? I have very little doubt that if Jesus returned tommorow, Bush's "christians" would be the first ones to call for his death.
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Dissolve into Evergreens