Monday, November 5, 2012

Putting feet to one's faith

Perhaps the passage of the Bible I quote most often is the second chapter of the book of James:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. ... Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
I'm also quite fond of the commandment to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Now I'm no saint, but many of the choices in my life, which have often meant opting for jobs that paid less money but helped more people and working on projects that had no financial value for me but bettered the lives of other people, are deeply informed by passages like these.

I'm posting this because I happened across an Obama ad on YouTube that dovetails almost perfectly with where I'm coming from, from a faith perspective.

And this is one reason I find it so galling that the so-called "religious right" has abandoned core Christian teachings, such as the New Testament admonition that the pursuit of cash:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
I don't think I can make it any clearer that the pursuit of profit in an unmitigated free market is at odds with basic Christian tenets. Jesus was no Ferengi and he despised the Pharisees and moneychangers who made a mockery of the Jewish faith of the day.

Now, I can understand many of my fellow Christians' hatred of abortion causing them to turn away from the pro-choice agenda of the Democratic Party, but I urge them to pay attention to former President Clinton's goal of keeping abortion "safe, legal, but rare." My values are simultaneously pro-choice and pro-life, and they stem from a belief that making it illegal does not end it, and that the efforts to curb abortion should focus instead on demand rather than supply.

Where I part ways with my conservative Christian brethren is that I refuse to hold my nose (in the interest of pro-life values) at all the greed and lack of caring for the less fortunate, not to mention hatred for some groups, that is at the heart of today's Republican agenda.

I'll end this with a quote from 1981 by Billy Graham, the virtual pastor-in-chief to every president for a half century:
I don't want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.
Sadly, the nonagenarian minister seems to have strayed from this, manipulated by his son, who is more interested in promoting the values of the GOP than those of Christ. (His decision to stop referring to Mormonism as a "cult" — something drilled into the head of every evangelical — comes not from interfaith outreach or a change in theology or a redefining of "non-Christian doctrine," but from cold, political calculation.)

I'll have more on that later. I wonder if Billy Graham's embrace of Mormonism is not so different from (and cannot be followed by) acceptance of homosexuality that is common among liberal churches (but which goes against the teachings of Paul).



  1. I (more or less) agree; the Republican viewpoint seems so transparently motivated by unenlightened self-interest, that one can forgive the drawbacks of the Democratic party.

    But more generally, I think politics has had its day, based as it is on such a willful denial of reality, and failure or refusal to take responsibility for one's actions and beliefs.

  2. Kushibo, I don't know if you've seen this story of a current, modern-day Canadian saint, Rev. Kevin Annett, destroyed by Christian churches in the name of god, but it's not in the least bit funny how quickly The Golden Rule is tossed aside for the sake of money, greed, and power in not only politics but especially in the upper echelons of organized religions.

    His brilliant book, "Hidden No Longer: Genocide in Canada, Past and Present" is available for free at Horrifying doesn't begin to describe the atrocities that are still happening to this day as he tries to bring justice for all those children killed (and worse) for Crown and Church. For those interested in exploring social injustice, it is a must read.

  3. I'm feeling a bit low but after reading your posts I kinda feel more energetic now.


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