Freedom of Jerk

I was raised Republican. Christian yes, but Republican also…and sometimes moreso. The older I became and the further away I went from home, the more I saw the world and met the different people in it, the more I stepped away from the right. The older I get from then, the more I seem to run from it.

I hate politics as a rule. We’re lied to, betrayed, and sold to the highest bidder more often than we aren’t. You want to be a politician because you think you can change things? Great. Call me when you get your heart broken (and your eyes open up, and you realize you need to pick a side which most likely won’t be the one you thought you were on the most).

Today, a member of my family sent me an email entitled, “Allah or Jesus” and it was, ostensibly, a description someone made about his experience at a jailhouse ministry wherein he challenged a Muslim holy man about violent jihad vs. Christ’s eternal love for humanity. The text was capped by an imploring final paragraph, added by whoever started the email 10 years ago, to pass it around FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST.

Immediately, I went to Snopes to see if any of it was true. Turns out not entirely, it was paraphrased and added to, as most email quotes tend to be. I responded to this family member and everyone who was included in the email, with the link to the source along with a note that it’s important to know where this stuff comes from and how it was changed and taken out of context over time. I also added that for the record, Muslims view terrorists the same way Christians view the Westboro Baptist Church.

I waited. About an hour later, an email came from the family member who sent the initial email. All it said was, “Agree to disagree”.

Sigh.

In the effort to acquiesce to people for who they are, not who you want them to be, I’ve come to this: I’m starting to accept that some people who I am close with are a bunch of fundy disappointments, even if they think they mean well.

Am I a flaming liberal? No. But I am a common sense-having, bleeding heart centrist. If you’re in the gutter starving during the pouring rain and I’m at my warm and dry kitchen table with four plates of food and three umbrellas, of course I’m going to give you one or three. This kind of “act local” thinking appeals to most Christians if the pulpit is to believed, but the “think global” part seems to be entirely lost to the flock. It’s great if you help your neighbor, you should and you need to – and I dare say you don’t need religion to tell you so – but if you run around proclaiming all Muslims (for example) to be inherently evil how is that not the same as Muslim (for example) terrorists blowing Christians up in the street because they don’t share the same god? It’s not. Selective religion is bad news. Fundamentalism is bad news. It takes something that works well for one person or group of people, and turns it into something that ceases to be rational for the herd.

Dylan at the (my) family dinner table once, mentioned this. A member of my family looked up somewhat incredulously and said, “I’m a fundamentalist”. But I don’t think that’s the word he meant, or maybe he doesn’t understand what that word actually means. Have beliefs. Have strong beliefs. Unwavering and firm in their understanding, yes! Yes! But if your belief says clothe the homeless and you say, “tell them to get jobs and clothe themselves” then we have a serious disconnection between what you profess and what you practice (or what you profess and what’s in your soul). This is a problem and it hurts my heart.

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today… is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is simply what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable. – Brennan Manning

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