Thursday, April 20, 2006

Post-Easter Religion, Part Deux

Thinking more on the hate mail sent to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the frighteningly consistent use of the "faggot" and "cocksucker" epithets... it's clear that those particular names were chosen to emphasize the distinction being made by the letter-writers between "me" and "other."

The writers: Christian ==> in possession of The Truth ==> righteous.

The Other, personified by FSM adherents: Heathen ==> wrong, wrong, wrong ==> evil.

What better way to highlight the difference between good and evil than to cast it as straight vs. homo? To be fair, a few "motherfuckers" were tossed in there as well, but when faced with the need for the vilest insult possible, most of the hate-mail authors chose some variant of "gay."

I blame Paul. I blame Paul for just about all the crap spewed by fundamentalist Christians toward people whose beliefs differ from their own. I used to spend more time than I should cruising around Christian Forums in an effort to try to understand the mindset behind the public pronouncements and attempts to change public policy that struck me as mean-spirited. The main rift I saw between the fundamentalist evangelical camp and the liberal Christian camp boils down to the base people draw from--it's either Paul and his
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17; apparent emphasis on "rebuking, correcting")
or Christ and his
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:40).
The former mindset sees ad hominem insults as rebuking and correction, and conflates them with love. When confronted with their self-posed question, "What would Jesus do?" they nearly invariably reply that Jesus tossed the moneychangers out of the temple and whacked the fig tree that didn't bear fruit, so they're only following his example when they spew profanities at nonbelievers. When they see one of the least brothers of Christ, whether it's the homeless guy in the median, or a migrant worker, or a single mother on welfare, or even just somebody who's different from themselves, they don't register that whatever they do to this person, they're doing to JC hisself. They're rebuking.

Because The Other chose to be what He is. He willfully disobeyed God somewhere along the way, and so opened himself up to being corrected by the righteous, who aren't doing it because they enjoy it, mind you, not because rebuking someone feeds into your self-image of righteousness, but because it's their duty. Because when they call you a cocksucking faggot for satirizing Young Earth Creation, why, they're just doing what Jesus did in the temple, and what Jesus would surely do to you were he sitting at the keyboard himself today.

Better than asking what Jesus would do is asking what you would do to Jesus. If the homeless guy in the median asking to wash your windshield for a buck was actually Jesus, what would you do? If the person marveling over the Tiktaalik fossil's usefulness in arguing for evolution was actually Jesus, would you call him a cocksucking faggot? What would you do if Jesus H. himself came down in full Jesus regalia and stigmata, looked you in the eye, and asked you why you thought "gay" was an insult at all? Instead of seeing moneychangers and Pharisees in the Other, try seeing Christ there. Try seeing if that changes your behavior toward other people. And if it doesn't, ask yourself why.

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