Friday, January 18, 2013

WWJD? No, Seriously.

Have you ever found yourself in a certain situation and come to the terrifying revelation that, by golly, you just didn’t know what to do? Like the other day, I was in the city and I happened upon Doctor Octopus rampaging through the waterfront district. Having never fought a super villain before, I didn’t know exactly what to do. But what I do know is that Spiderman has fought Doc Ock on many occasions and under many circumstances. So naturally I asked myself, “What would Spiderman do?” The rest as they say is history as Doc Ock is resting comfortably behind bars at this very moment.
There routinely comes those moments in our lives where having never found ourselves in particular situations we seek guidance from sources outside of ourselves. Sometimes we call these people heroes, being that they provide stellar examples of the kind of behavior we ourselves would like to imitate if we were unfortunate enough to find ourselves in scenarios such as those our heroes have faced. We might also call upon the stories of our heroes in situations we are already familiar with in hopes of acting with more grace and dignity then we may have had previously.
            For the Christian, the hero they are supposed to be channeling is Jesus Christ. While they can surely have other heroes besides, their primary source of inspiration is, as they claim, the son of God as characterized in the Bible’s New Testament. Frankly, there is a comedic element involved for many a Republican-lovin’ Evangelical who enjoys claiming this much. That is to say, Evangelical Christians act in a manner that is often inconsistent with the words of their main man, Jesus of Nazareth.
            Let’s take a look at, oh I don’t know, George W. Bush. He’s a Christian isn’t he? He claims to be and there’s no arguing that Evangelicals made up the majority of his constituents. Though, I can’t help but get the feeling that good ol’ George never seriously asks himself, “What would Jesus do?” when confronted by difficult choices. I really wonder if, on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq, President Bush asked himself, “Would Jesus invade a country that poses less than half the threat than North Korea does?” Even if Iraq or any other country did pose a dire threat to the United States, doesn’t Jesus state in Matthew chapter 5 verses 39-44 to love your enemies and do good by them? A theist partial to the Bible may object and claim that God’s enemies are nonetheless condemned to Hell, but that is a judgment reserved for God (as stated at least twice in the Book of Matthew).
            We’re not done with making an example out of Mr. Bush yet, hero worshippers. It is quite clear as well that the former oil businessman turned leader-of-the-free-world had close ties to the financially well-to-do and multi-billion dollar corporate interests while in office. But doesn’t Jesus say unequivocally in Matthew 19: 23-24 that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven? Why is President Bush hobnobbing with rich people if Jesus is his favorite philosopher? “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you,” lamented Jesus in James chapter 5 verses 1-5. Why is the Republican Party known for pandering to the upper class if Christians are their constituents?
            To be fair, George W. Bush isn’t the only offender among those who claims to adhere to the words set forth by Jesus and then acts in a radically different manner. Let’s take Rush Limbaugh for example. He’ll tell you he’s a fan of Jesus, just not a very big fan if his actions are any indication. I mean, gee, wasn’t Rush addicted to pain killers for a while there? Yet in Matthew 5:29-30 Jesus tells us that it would be better to pluck out our own eyes and cut off our hands if it meant keeping us from sinning or giving into vice. Should Rush have cut off his hands in order to keep himself from popping pills? While the Bible may have nothing to say about whether or not being addicted to pain medication is good or bad, Limbaugh surely thinks it is a vice as he had routinely criticized drug addicts before his hypocrisy was revealed. [See Luke 6:41 for Jesus’ warning against hypocrisy, Rush.] But maybe Limbaugh was speaking in parables. Oh dear, he was following Jesus’ example after all.
            Okay, well then, what of Jim Bakker, the former leader of the Praise The Lord (PTL) Ministries? Hmm, if history recalls correctly, wasn’t he the guy who tried to buy his press secretary Jessica Hahn’s silence about her sexual services to him? I’m pretty sure that Christians generally agree that, citing Jesus’ supposed celibate lifestyle and Paul the Apostle’s views on sex, what Jim did was a big no-no. And as we all know, Jim Bakker is hardly the only Christian leader guilty of sexual misdeed. Jesse Jackson, cough, cough. Archdiocese of Boston, Portland, and Tucson, ahem, ahem. Damn this sore throat. Why didn’t any of these people ask themselves, when faced with such great temptation, “What would Jesus do?” Would Jesus cheat on his wife? Would Jesus sire a love child? Would Jesus molest little children? Would Jesus try to cover it up?
            There’s also the matter of the Golden rule. In the Book of Luke chapter 6 verse 31 Jesus says, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” In other words, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, which sounds like decent advice in most instances (sans you crazy sadomasochists out there). Seriously now, when’s the last time Jerry Falwell treated a homosexual or non-Christian with respect? “If you’re not a born again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being,” said Falwell in an attempt to sugarcoat reality. He must’ve skipped the Book of Luke entirely because Jesus also said therein, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Perhaps Jerry Falwell would be best off asking himself whether or not Jesus would read the Bible before claiming to be a Christian.
            On any given day, your typical Evangelical can be seen living in a manner contradictory to the teachings of Jesus. In Matthew 5:5 Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Uh, are we still talking about Evangelicals here, the same people trying to turn America into a Christian version of Israel? In Matthew 5:34 Jesus states, “Swear not at all,” in forbidding the taking of oaths. Okay then, what the heck are Christians doing in the courtrooms?! In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus gives a new commandment that is second only to the first one of loving God above all else. “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” he tells his audience. Well, that’s certainly not advice good Christians like Fox News parrots Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Cal Thomas, and Fox News president and founder Roger Ailes follow. "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity,” replies a demure Ann Coulter about Muslim countries on a typical day. That’s right, nothing says love like a religious conversion at the end of a gun barrel.
While I don’t qualify as an expert on the Bible, I can certainly say that I know the Bible better than 9 out of 10 Christians I come across. If you ask me, no one has been able to logically defend the outrageous positions Evangelicals typically take on everyday living, especially when you consider that they are supposed to be taking the words and gospels of Jesus into account when living their lives, otherwise a person would have no business calling themselves a follower of Christ. Yet call themselves Christians is exactly what they do! Would Jesus call himself the son of God if he really were not? What would Jesus do; would the King of Kings lie? 
I know what I’d do. Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: "With great power comes great responsibility." This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I'm Theory Parker.

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