I wrote this on Friday. It's gray outside.
The last death toll in the US south was 280 people, which I mentioned on my facebook last night. This morning I found this response from my North Carolinian friend: Some idiot showed up in my Twitter feed yesterday who said (it took a few tweets...), "Well, maybe when people in the Southeast don't have anyone to pull them out from under trees and buildings, they'll finally un...derstand the importance of taxes." Hmm... I was mad. Probably an understatement. "s just... Well, the *most* anti-tax state happens to be New Hampshire (New England state), which has no income tax. And we DO have taxes. It's just... the South is POOR.
Then I went to my email to read the responses left on blogs where I've already posted comments, and there's a bunch of ongoing activity on a story about a couple of women who are harassing an English school teacher because she writes erotic romance novels. They think this is akin to pedophilia.
And then there's my lingering illness over the Obama thing, and the way some pundits don't even realize just how deeply significant it was. Some people seem to think it was just a ridiculous, maybe disgusting, distraction and they're glad it's been disproven and now they can get back to talking about important matters.
All this in a supposedly Christian nation. I don't say that to pick on Americans--there have been other weeks when it's all Canadian stories that depress me. But it's just to make this point...
A few days ago I said we need to bring our game up when it comes to engaging with the fashion industry. Today I'm saying, people who call themselves Christians (not all Americans obviously) need to bring up their game when it comes to wearing that label.
Because blaming poor people when their homes have been destroyed and they've lost loved ones through no fault of their own, and because they're poor, and because they live in a country where there's a great deal of income inequality; and persecuting good teachers, one of the worst paid and most important professions in North America, and particularly in the union-weak US; and treating the President of the United States like he's nothing but a n****r... these aren't the sorts of actions that people should associate with Christians. And unfortunately, they are.
There is absolutely no doctrine that means you are a good Christian, not even the belief in Christ. There is one thing and one thing only that should mark you as one, and that's love. You should be a loving person. You should strive to love, to give it, to show it. Not to be perfect, but to try. That's it that's all.
It's much much much simpler than any church mission statement, than any set of doctrines or rules, it's easy to remember, it's beautiful in it's simplicity, and it's good for all periods in history, all countries, all cultures. And yet, while it's simpler than anything any church will try to sign you up for, it's harder to live. Rules can be followed. I once belonged to a rules-based church, it made life very easy: You kept the sabbath, you didn't eat pork, you kept the holy days, and knew who you were and you could be self-righteous about it.
But LOVING people, really trying to be patient, and kind, and open-minded, and see things from another's point of view, and give, and to love even those who hate you, while still protecting and loving yourself... that's HARD. That's what Christians are being asked to do. That's what all humans are being asked to do, whether they believe in god or not. But if you're going to slap the name of Christ on your forehead and parade it around for everyone to see, then that is what I, as a fellow Christian, am going to hold you to.
I've put up songs before by Steve Bell, because this is the sort of Christian he is. The walking, talking, loving kind. For his latest album there's "endorsements" from fans on his site and this one made me laugh:
Here's a song, from an older album, that's about this topic of upping the game. It's Christ praying in the garden of Gethsemane, talking to god about his followers and how they just don't get it. They think it's about overthrowing Rome, and a new kingdom, and honor, and a top spot next to the throne; they're about to discover it's about sacrifice, and humility, and "the kind of love that changes everything."
If Christianity doesn't make your life uncomfortable, you're not doing it right.
May they understand the love You have for me
As the kind of love that changes everything
They argue who will sit next to the throne
And I cringe to here them say Thy Kingdom come
They think they know what they're getting into
We both know that they haven't got a clue
this is not the same
It's a different thing
This is not the same
It's another thing
This is love
This is love
Now... I have go root this bitterness out of my heart and love all the above-mentioned fools. Even Maya Angelou struggles with that one, so at least I'm in good company.
ADDED NOTE: MAY 1st - The woman who is persecuting the English teacher put this photo as her profile picture on facebook.