You may have read and heard and seen quite a bit about Christians in the media. Many of these very outspoken people have said and done things, often in the name of Christ, that I am uncomfortable with having out there as representative of my faith.
In an effort to fly under the radar, avoid conflict and any kind of connection with those very public faces of Christianity, I've tried to throw my lot in with what I figure was Jesus' favorite kind of Christian. I tried to be meek. After all, it does have its advantages beyond safety. Jesus says the meek are set to inherit the earth. Sounded like a win to me. Having written that, I need apologize to Jesus and some of my favorite priests over the years (Hi Battle, John, and Cynthia!) The meek thing just isn't working for me. I can't continue to let certain ideas continue to be presented as my own just because someone else is louder, more persistent, and more aggressive.
Here's what I won't say about those other Christians: I won't say they're not Christians, nor will I make the claim that they might speak for a segment of Christianity, but those people don't speak for every Christian. And here's why I won't say that: Every time something bad happens and there's, say, a Muslim person involved, my people get all Dana Carvey as the Church Lady about it and demand expressions of outrage from every. single. Muslim. Then when some nice imam somewhere mentions that maybe people are misunderstanding the Koran or maybe they just weren't raised right, almost everyone in the West gets that lipless "mmm-hmm" thing going on. It's like we're all saying, "Nice try, Ahmed, We KNOW you're part of the Axis of Evil." We need to stop that nonsense and step up when the sin is on our own back porches.
What I will say is that those other Christians do not speak for me. I speak for me. So for the record, I want to get a few things straight as a part of the rest of Christianity.
- I don't care who you love as long as you love. If we're not sharing a bed, it's really none of my business, anyway.
- I have no super powers that afford me the ability to assign gender designation to others. As such, I do my best to respect how others identify themselves. This includes trying to keep up with the correct pronouns,
- As a person of faith, I find the diversity of humanity is a beautiful thing. As someone with a degree in anthropology, I can state with certainty that said diversity is a product of our earthly bodies reflecting environmental and evolutionary changes based on adaptation from, goodness, thousands of millennia ago. Its pretty and it's skin deep. Between the ears and under the skin, we're all the same in the way snowflakes are all unique and yet they're all snowflakes.
- If we declare there is only one right way, aren't we saying human diversity is a mistake? You want to tell the Big Guy/Lady/Cosmic Turtle that? You go, Lieutenant Brass Ones! I think Ram Dass has it closer to the truth when he says, "We're all just walking each other home."
- I really don't give twenty-five cents (USD) and a sack of premium Tasmanian rats' asses about tribal boundaries. If it will make you feel better, you are welcome to attribute it to me being raised wrong. My Jewish father was a fan of the Muslim intellectual community who kept Classical arts and letters and STEM going during the European Dark Ages. As a person of Mizrahi descent, I find the continual strife in certain parts of the world suspicious because it's so darned profitable for people with no other stake beyond what they can sell if they keep folks over there stirred up and mad at each other.
- Speaking of being all about the Benjamins, too many of my co-religionists seem to think that's the only measure of a person. Jesus was pretty specific about not doing that.
- Same goes for using it as a rationale for destroying the Earth. It's not like we have a bunch of spare planets to inhabit. However, it might be more feasible for people who have no problem with destroying the world in the interest of monetary gain to eat, breathe, and drink money on Jupiter. Consider this my invitation to give it a try.
- Killing is wrong. Once again, my fellow Christians, you need to RTFM. We have explicit instructions about that one, too.
- So is hurting anyone else. We've been told not to do that.
- We have all been given gifts. We all have some kind of innate genius. We're remiss if we deny it in ourselves and evil if we deny the presence of it in others.
- I could be wrong about this, but it seems to me that God has better things to do than worry about whether we or our neighbors are eating the wrong things, winning at sports, playing with our friends of other faiths, dropping the occasional F-bomb, or wearing mixed fibers. He'd probably appreciate it if we concerned ourselves less about whether we're doing any of the above and start making sure everyone is clothed, fed, sheltered, cared for, and loved.
- We have an obligation to speak up when things aren't right. Alice Walker said, "Activism is my rent for living on this planet." She's right. I need to do better. We all need to be better. Think of how close to heaven this place would be if we all did the right thing.
And finally...Being human is this odd cosmic doodad of a gift that we can enjoy but only with the proviso that we perceive that divine spark in every other living thing. I don't believe in Hell, except for the one that we build for ourselves. I do believe in heaven. I think it's within our reach. It's as close as recognizing our shared humanity.