Chasing the Wrong Wind

I’ve had a metamorphosis in the past few years not unlike that of the insect world we studied in high school biology. It was refreshing to learn, both figuratively and actually, that others had veered off course as well. Veered onto a new path- less trodden, less safe- forged by very brave people who dared to question the authority of The Church. My circle of friends have never dissuaded me from seeking alternate answers to questions like: What, where and who is the entity commonly known as God? And what’s that religion stuff all about anyway?

As a kid, religion and Sunday services got in the way of my free time and impinged my otherwise curious mind. It all began in the Garden of Eden and the apple and the damned talking snake. Bang-off at that early age I suspected that something wasn’t quite right about those biblical stories. Then there were the stories of  Jonah and the  whale, David and Goliath and Noah and the dinosaurs on his ark. These fantasies competed on Saturday mornings with Flash Gordon and Tom Corbet Space Cadet on my 14″ black and white TV. Oddly the latter two seemed more ‘real’ than the heroes of the bible. But I went along on the ruse because it seemed like everyone else was doing it too.

The fact that everyone else was doing it too seemed to give credence to the entire gig.  Everyone I knew in my neighborhood [except for that odd boy across the street who had the queer name, Eugene Victor Wolfenstein] was Christian too and learned the same stuff. Meaningless but common stuff. My best friend didn’t have Jesus hanging on a cross in his house, but beyond that, he heard similar stories in his Sunday School classes that I heard in my religion classes. He was First Baptist; I never inquired back then if there was a 2nd or 3rd Baptist.

Although he and I have lost contact after all of the intervening years, I’m betting that he still ‘believes’ those Sunday school stories. Many Baptists are fundamentalists and they too ‘believe’ in the literalism of the Bible. What a shame. A pity as well. Metaphor has escaped them. So has parable and, of course, Jewish Midrash. Rather than investigating the deeper meaning found in biblical writing, fundamentalists are content to hold literal beliefs not unlike children reading tall tales. Pitiful.

Not only pitiful but dangerous. Smite thy enemy. Take the conquered land unto your own. Kill everyone in the land, women and children too. “I will sweep away both people and animals alike. Even the birds of the air and the fish in the sea will die.  I will reduce the wicked to heaps of rubble, along with the rest of humanity,” says the LORD.

The Lord? Shall we do likewise? Does the LORD give us example?

That type of rhetoric ought to cause a person alarm. What kind of ‘Lord’ wants us to kill others? Why then Moses’s tablet that reads, ‘Thou shall not kill.’ Or does it all depend on who?  Then of course there are passages condoning slavery, beating or killing your children, and dishonoring women.

It is hard to imagine that 21st century Americans still believe that nonsense, yet, not only do they believe it, many want to legislate it. It seems that many Americans who proudly state that America is a Christian nation never ‘got’ the Jesus message. Or, rather, got the wrong Jesus message. Where is the vindictive Jesus?  The misogynistic Jesus? The warring Jesus? The divisive Jesus?

That wide chasm between the old and new testaments clearly separates today’s so-called liberal Christians from the conservative Christians. I’m reminded of the right-wing blogger who said, ‘I’m more of an old Testament Christian.’ He supported GW Bush’s War on Iraq, hates Obamacare, loathes paying taxes and thinks the poor ought to get a job. Odd type of Christian.

Odd indeed. And there’s the rub. And my epiphany. How does one read the life of Jesus and come to that set of radical conclusions?  How? Salvation theology rather than wisdom theology. Or, what was Jesus all about? The Broadway musical Jesus Christ Super Star! asked the question 4 decades ago.

Salvation theology permeates the Bible Belt and fundamental/evangelical ministries throughout America. It holds that one must accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. They further believe that ‘Jesus paid the price for your sin and mine by giving His life on a cross.’ And this: ‘When we realize how deeply our sin grieves the heart of God and how desperately we need a Savior, we are ready to receive God’s offer of salvation.’ Further: ‘All that’s left for you to do is to accept the gift that Jesus is holding out for you right now.‘ Finally: ‘God says that if you believe in His son, Jesus, you can live forever with Him in glory.

Neat package deal. By the way, these quotes are from the website of the Southern Baptist Convention. These Baptists and other fundamentalist/evangelical Christians make it easy to ‘become a Christian.’  It’s an alluring albeit bogus package that appeals to emotions rather than logic or wisdom. Salvation theology. Simplistic and personal with a guarantee at the end. It does not speak of others; it does not require doing anything for others.  It is passive, not active. Done and over.

Yet it is never merely an individual or private vision. It is never about just “getting right with God” and then resting in the assurance of personal salvation.  One ought not worship Christ as a Deity, but instead, learn what he did and said and follow.  This is an active and a bumpy path. It involves others; it involves the community. Yes, those people. The ones outside of your neat and comfortable circle.

Rev. Robin R Meyers instructs: We draw circles but Jesus is ever-widening it for us. His was an inclusive message, not exclusive.  His was plural, not singular. His was active, not static.  Meyer’s latest book title says it all: Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus. Meyers theology is the theology of wisdom, not salvation.

I’m sure you get it. So do I.


17 thoughts on “Chasing the Wrong Wind

    1. yes to whichever you please. But I don’t think you actually care either way, do you? By the way, do you see any ‘politics’ in Rev. Meyer’s slant on the two clearly distinct types of Christians? I purposely did not include the politics of religion/theology in my post, but surely you must see it simmering beneath the words. Do you?

      1. Yes to what? Where did my question go as to whether Myers would
        be establishing a cult, like Mormonism?

        1. trying again…Under the weather, good buddy…Have a serious
          leg infection for the past week…only keeps getting worse…Every few days they try another antibioltic… The pain is the worse that I
          have ever had, and this is no exaggeration. So, my thought processes are all blurred with the pain meds…So whats the politiucal theology your trying to make…

          1. …that Rev. Meyers links the message and life of Jesus with a liberal/socialist agenda, whereas Salvation Theology is conservative/right-wing–“I got mine, now you get yours!”

            You better get hold of that infection before it turns to MRSA which, by the way, can spread to other organs. Has your house-nurse looked at it?

            1. Yes, she has….and since she works at an “old folks home”, lol,
              she has given me case study by case study of these type of leg
              injuries and how it escalates into worse….Her worst case scenarios, and now yours, lol, have me wondering how much
              time I have left on this side of the grass!

              And, starting another different antibiotic today… Makes one
              confidant of the medical establishment….

              But of course I saw that anology, but didn’t we think like this
              long before Meyers writes his book? We were probably liberal
              long before Meyers was born! I was looking for something
              much more esoteric that my heat oppressed (fever) brain was
              missing. I thought you were hinting at a mysterious hidden
              agenda on the part of Myers. So, have you concluded your
              posting on Meyers, or does he have some more comments that are wotrth sharing?

              1. Moreover, M_R, do we really care what Meyers and Spong have to say? I mean we have reached our logical conclusions on religion, so why do we take our time in talking about it?

                1. We [I] am taking time to discuss this because the Presidency as well as the Supreme Court are directly linked to Christian Salvation Theology. Surely you see it. What’s the GOP message but, I’ve got [found] mine, now you get yours! How did the conservatives get onto SCOTUS? Christian Salvation Theology.

                  If we don’t inform The People of this virulent twist in the message of Christianity and the subsequent political fallout, then we will be doomed by it for the rest of our lives!

                  1. In what way does christian salvation theology influence all these
                    state legislature laws on abortion?

                    1. now, where does that come from, that they know sin..Is it the commandment, “thou shall not kill”? But, why is it my or your
                      responsibility to protect another from sin? Is it “my brother’s
                      keeper”, or maybe “love your neighbor as yourself”? Where do
                      you think that it comes from? Is it a figment of the imagination or
                      have they invented it?

                    2. This is all part of the theocracy doctrine, live, well and blooming inside the Christian fundamentalist movement. They ‘know’ what’s right for all of us because they have been saved. They feel that ALL of America needs saving and they’re doing it one state house legislator at a time. Just a few days ago, Joe the Plumber was in the Toledo Blade talking about his ‘conversion’ to Christianity. Then he talked about Obama’s conversion- that it was a ‘miracle!’

                      They are out there, my friend, but up here, out of the Bible Belt, they attract more attention than in your neck of the woods.


  1. Well, good buddy, I have so much antibiotic and pain meds going
    thru me I can’t think or see much right now, lol… Have come down
    with a serious loweer leg infection…The pain is the worse I have
    ever had, and not an exaggeration…..So whats the politics ?

    1. the theocracy doctrine…more attention out of the Bible Belt than here in
      the Deep South….Yet, Mississippi and I believe South Carolina before
      Mississippi voted down the so called “personhood amendment to the state
      constituions. In MS the vote against was overwhelming, so if the theocracy
      doctrine is more attributable to the Deep South/ the bible belt, how can it
      be explained that a state with a high percentage of baptist and fundies turned
      down the theocracy doctrine?

  2. I used to be “nice” to them and let them play their “God” games as long as they kept it to themselves. They’re not keeping it to themselves and aren’t at all playing nice now*.

    Think of the top 5 commenter’s on Sepp’s or TGP’s blogs, then think of the top 5 commenters on this blog. Approximate the average I.Q. and education level of each group and ask yourself “Which group needs the most saving?” And when did the Supreme Court transmute into the “Conservataives” versus the “Liberals”? I was always taught that personal views had no place there.

    * I may get upset with President Obama, but when I hear what Romney says or read the blogs supporting Romney, I come right back home to the re-elect the President group.

    1. Blog commenter comparison? There is no comparison nor is there any comparison with the quality of the posts either. But then, when one deals with anger 24/7, one cannot expect too much use of the cerebrum.

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