The subversion of Christmas

Why is it that no one wants to talk about the subversion of Christmas? We're so focused on the war that we forget the real danger is the Fifth Column, a subtle and insidious element at work to erode the foundations of our faith.

What is that Fifth Column? We are. Every time we drop a dime on a Christmas gift. Nor do I mean Santa Socks, Angry Bird Ring Toss, Star Wars 7 Pre-release Action Figures with Working Prototype Weapons, or the Ultimate iPad Christmas App and its Android knock-off. Or shopping at Wal-Mart where your dollars are recycled to China and Union-busting anti-labor initiatives instead of paying the workers a living wage.

I'm talking about buying things from Christian vendors as well, many of well-meaning, and others out to make nothing but a buck and all geared for the cash crop that is Fifth Column Christmas. I browsed the lists of recommended Christian gifts and most of them boiled down to Bibles (you can never have too many of those, even though you need only one and early Christians managed to get along without one at all), CDs, DVDs and Christian books, most of which have more to do with promoting agendas (even agendas I approve of) than Jesus.

Here are a couple of suggested Christian gifts:

Perhaps my favorite recommended gift would be the Christian Weekend Retreatfor $150.

It doesn't matter where you turn, Christmas is about spending money. As much and as often as possible. Christians can fool themselves into believing that a genuine leather Scofield Reference Bible with Concordance, Maps and authentic photographs of the crucifixion and resurrection is a Christian act and not an act of consumerism, or that a red and green sweater with wreaths and Christian cross patterns is a gift Jesus would give, but the Gospels suggest differently.

To Jesus, the act of giving requires a sacrifice. And it was something you do year-round. The Christmas holiday we celebrate was actually campaigned for by businesses to boost sales, much like Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentines Day and parent days. This may sound cynical, but you can't imagine any of those holidays without their connections to commerce. Each, in fact, has its own commercial symbol whether it be bunnies, cupids, turkeys or men in red suits.

This doesn't mean that charity isn't associated with Christmas. It's just that charity is an afterthought. For Jesus charity was first and foremost.

There are charitable gifts available. Oxfam allows you to give sustainable gifts to people in developing countries in the names of your friends and family members.

Redefining Christmas allows you to donate to friends' and family's favorite charities.

There's no guarantee the money will be spent completely as you want. For instance, giving to Samaritan's Purse for their sustainable as well as evangelical projects. But they also donate monies raised to undermining gay marriage rights. Would I give a present to my evangelical family through them even though I wouldn't even buy a chocolate peppermint Christmas shake from Chic-Fil-A? In a heartbeat. They still do good work. I can give an equal amount in support of same-sex marriage to another organization, and my evangelical family members would appreciate it far more than they would a gift through Oxfam.

Unfortunately, even special charitable gifts miss the point. Spending money you would have spent anyway requires no sacrifice, even if it is to a good cause.

I would like to be positive about this. The real truth, however, is that the Fifth Column forces of consumerism, sponsored in part by the Corporate Christian Complex, have too strong a grip. Our kids don't understand the gift of sacrifice. If they haven't received every disposable, breakable junk item on their list, they feel they were sacrificed to a higher principle. And too many friends do as well.

I would never tell you what you should do at Christmas. It is your holiday to celebrate as you choose. Even if you choose not to celebrate at all. But before we continue to escalate the war on Christmas, perhaps we should ask ourselves if the holiday has anything to do with Jesus at all.

So the real question, I suppose, is WWJD? And the surprising answer is probably that he wouldn't celebrate Christmas. His birthday, after all, was most likely in the spring and, as far as I can tell from the Gospels, he never celebrated when he was with us.

Life begins at home

(the base, not the building)

 

I’m  not sure who I’m more grateful to for allowing me to return with such a great topic, President Obama or crazy Republicans. Usually I try not to use epithets like “crazy” to describe Republicans but in this case I feel it’s not only called for—it’s accurate.

And to be fair, I’m not calling Republicans crazy; just the crazy ones.

The ones like Texas Attorney General Gregg Abott, who—even though Obama backed down on requiring organizations affiliated with religious groups to provide birth control coverage for non-Catholic employees—still intends to sue the feds for making providers cover birth control.1

Or Missouri Republican Roy Blount who plans to introduce an amendment to the Patient Care Act to prohibit mandates on any employer to offer sexually related preventive health care. All of this just to make sure sperm is free to penetrate any egg it chooses.

Blount’s amendment would allow any employer to claim religious freedom as a reason to refuse to cover birth control, HIV testing and even cancer screening as an employee health benefit. In fact, employers will be allowed to deny benefits for any health condition that comes from what they believe to be an unhealthy or immoral life-style.

Or the sponsors of Oklahoma Senate Bill 1433, the “Personhood Bill,” which declares life to begin at conception and that “unborn children have protectable interest in life, health and well-being.” (Notice, they don’t have those rights after birth.) Ironically the bill is getting more attention for one Democrat’s satirical amendment that would make masturbation illegal, too.

Monty Python fans can’t help but chuckle.

According to Republicans of all ilk, crazy or not, the birth control requirement was just one more salvo in Obama’s ongoing war on faith. Obama is yet another of a long line of Democratic Presidents engaged in anti-Christian jihad: the born-again Baptist Jimmy Carter, the admittedly mixed-signal sending Methodist Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, who, as we all know, was born in Kenya and raised chanting the Koran at the feet of Imams in his local mosque as he secretly infiltrated America to lead the fifth column against faith.

I could stress that Obama’s birth control initiative didn’t target the Catholic Church or even churches,  only hospitals and non-profits that declare religious affiliation. I could stress it, but I would be ignored since this doesn’t seem to matter. Every other commentator (including the President) who tries to stress this is ignored.

I have two things to say about this nonsense:

Who’s persecuting who?

Nothing in Obama’s current plan (or the other one for that matter) forced employers to break their religious vows. Providing birth control in employee benefit plans does not make the employer the birth control provider. Churches would neither pay for nor hand over condoms, birth control pills, diaphragms or IUDs to their employees. They would merely cover costs out of the employees’ contributions to their premiums. The provider would be the insurer.

To deny benefits to those who don’t practice your faith is tantamount to religious persecution. It would be to allow religious institutions to coerce employers into a code of conduct. In other words, it would be the state requiring all religious employers to enforce Catholic theology. Not only is it unconstitutional, it’s hardly something Christians should want to do.

It may backfire too. This practice, which could be called “persecuting others for righteousness’ sake,” might give sinners a free ticket to heaven. That’s right, and the proof is in the Gospels. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10).

So if we take our scriptures seriously, denying birth control to non-practicing employees would make them into martyrs. That’s right. You will pay for their pass to the afterlife. On Jesus’ dime.

Don’t blame Jesus for your cheapness

Speaking of Jesus’ dime. This whole uproar is really a cover for a total lack of Christian generosity. Gregg Abbott actually admitted as much when he claimed that insurers would pass the cost of covering birth control onto paying customers (i.e., guys like him, who can afford it).

But let’s just say that the evil doers in this scenario really are the employees who need access to affordable birth control. Or the evil Obaminator who wants to mow down righteousness with one stroke of his pen. Jesus has a command for that too:

“Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (39-42)

Our Christian responsibility is clear. If the liberals expect us to provide birth control for one employee, we should turn around and provide it for two. If called on to provide birth control for all employees, we should provide it for another employer’s workers as well. It’s called “tough love.” In other words, it isn’t really love if it isn’t tough on you.

What’s wrong with birth control?

I never understood why Christians are upset with birth control. If everyone who had sex  practiced birth control, we wouldn’t have to stop abortions. Isn’t that a good thing?

I know the answer, of course. Religious leaders who oppose birth control think it encourages immorality. If kids have condoms, they will also have sex.

Let me take a cue from the NRA in response to that:

Condoms don’t get people pregnant; people do.

Mainly people who don’t practice birth control.

It’s clear to me that religious conservatives are trying to push the boundaries of conception further and further back. Soon life won’t begin with conception, but with ejaculation and then the act of sex itself. Before you know it we will push the instant of birth back from home plate to third base, and then second and even first. Just the thought of kissing will knock her up.

That’s in the Gospels too. “…everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (28)

Life will begin with intent.


1As I recall, the Constitution says no one can sue the feds without their permission. It’s called “sovereign immunity,” and the Torts Claims Act and Tucker Law don’t seem to apply here. So, good luck with that, Gregg.back

Righteous Indigestion launches May 21

In case you don’t know, the world will end on May 21. This is a fact. It is even reported by reliable news sources like MSNBC.1

I know this is true because it says so on a billboard about a mile from my house.

Okay, not the end of the world, but the genuine, honest to God, rapture. Evidently, the final end of the world is on October 31 when God comes for everybody else. This would mean God would have to move up his timetable because, as I recall, in the good old days of Hal Lindsay everybody would have to suffer a lot longer before God gave them what they really deserve. But since we have such a much shorter attention span than we did in the seventies (which is the last time I took Hal Lindsay seriously because he hadn’t changed the signs of the apocalypse so many times), six months is probably appropriate.

The new timing is also very good for God because that allows him to beat the Mayans (and Satan) to the punch. The godless, idol worshiping Mayans have declared that the world will end in December 2012 (precise date and time may vary), so this gives the Righteous more than a year to make sure there’s no more world to end in when the planetary alignment and solar flares show up.

So there you have it. May 21 is the rapture and that’s the day I will officially launch the blog Righteous Indigestion. I figure that since most of the Tea Party intends to go on that day,2 that will give us a good six months to finally get something useful accomplished.

You see, people who believe in the rapture believe that Jesus will take Christians up into the air so he can punish the rest of the world. By “Christians” they don’t mean Episcopalians or old school Catholics or Presbyterians, half of the Methodists and anyone who voted for Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or other posers who only pretend to be Christians.

Especially not those of us who voted for Obama who will single handedly usher in the end of the world after the 2012 elections. Or would have had God not beaten him to the punch on May 21.

In fact, you have to wonder why the Tea Party cares about slashing the funding to NPR and Planned Parenthood, or wants to decimate Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security when Jesus is going to rapture them anyway?

And now that Obama has made it clear that some of the deficit reduction has to come from raising taxes, they will be up in arms even though it won’t be their taxes he’s raising. After all, they won’t be here.

But it strikes me, after listening to the religious right’s spin machine for more years than I can count, that these Christians are the stingiest people I have ever met. And so willing to rush to judgment. It’s almost as though they took the New Testament and the Jefferson version (which they hate) and then cut out all the passages Jefferson kept and clutched what was left to their breasts as though these were the real words of Jesus without the liberal Democratic bullshit that got added by the liberal Democrats over the past two thousand years.

For instance, that verse, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” was liberal crap spliced in after the fact. And remember, this was supposed to be a summary of the most important commandments anyway. So here are the real commandments the liberals so completely rewrote with the “golden rule.”

  • Expect the government to give you everything you want without paying taxes in return.
  • If you don’t think it’s important, nobody else should get it from the government either
  • The poor don’t deserve shit and they’re using the government to steal from you.3
  • Keep everything you earned for yourself because, by God, you earned it.
  • Resist tax increases for the rich because Jesus wants you to be one of them one day.
  • If anyone disagrees with you, they’re wrong, unChristian and totally unAmerican.

Nor should we forget that when Jesus said “render unto Caesar” and Paul said that God gave us government to serve our best interests, they were just kidding. Especially in America where we actually are Caesar and the government. This means our support ultimately is support we’re giving to ourselves.

Now I’m not going to quote chapter and verse to you because being raised a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), I’ve heard chapter and verse cited by advocates of both sides of any argument (sometimes the same chapter and same verse by both sides of an argument) only to be used to support why those same people changed their minds a few years later (all the while insisting they would never have believed something as stupid as what they used to believe).

But here’s the Gospel I always read. God cares about what’s in our hearts, and giving (willing and glad giving I might add) shows your heart’s in the right place. Even if you don’t personally benefit.

In fact, it’s better if you don’t benefit because gracious giving with no hope of material reward adds to eternal reward.

It bothers me most when Christians say they shouldn’t have to pay taxes to support education, Social Security or health care because they aren’t paying for their own health care. Jesus taught me that (yes, me personally) that it doesn’t matter if my taxes don’t pay for my son’s education because someone else’s taxes did.

My taxes did pay for my niece’s educations since they went to school in our district. Joy ended up becoming a counselor and Kelly (who’s Catholic) a law student at Baptist Baylor. My nephews got great educations and graduated from A&M. Thanks to taxes. One’s a physicist and another a software engineer. So I’m grateful to the people who paid for their educations and am perfectly willing to pay for someone else’s education in return.

And even though I’m a pacifist (because I’m a Christian) I don’t mind paying taxes to support a military because those taxes helped pay for my son’s years in the Marines and continue to pay for the benefits from disabilities he suffered.

Do I want to pay for fighter planes that never fly, troops in every country and three wars I don’t support? No, I don’t. But I also know that when you give, you immediately lose control over how that money is spent. It’s part of giving. If you give with the expectation that the money will be spent exactly the way you spend it, it’s no longer a gift but a purchase. And that requires a contract.

Whenever the person you give to becomes obligated, it ceases to be a gift.4

Jesus made this pretty clear when Mary took money that had been given to support his ministry and the poor and spent it on oils to pamper him.

So, guess what? It isn’t just Obama who’s telling me to give tax money to help get America out of debt without dismantling Social Security, Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and NPR. It’s Jesus, and he’s telling me to give willingly and gladly.

And I will continue to do so even after May 21.


Key topics

It seems the search engine bots aren’t that smart. They look for exact matches to key words in the text. If you look for words that would direct you to the topic but aren’t actually included in the text (because the actual keywords don’t really fit the text being written), the bots kick you out of the search and refuse to list your page. I know this because I used to write for web sites and had to skew the text by including every possible variation of the key words, even when adding them created bizarre, banal or just plain bad prose. So I’m including them here. If you feel I’ve misrepresented the post with these key words, please complain to WordPress, Google and Bing.

Tea Party, rapture, May 21, taxes, Obama, Barach Obama,Social Security, Planned Parenthood, NPR, National Public Radio, Medicare, Obamacare, religious right, golden rule, search engine bots, generosity, giving


1If it was Fox, you might have cause to doubt it, at least according to the liberal elite. But this comes straight from the liberal press itself.back
2It is a proven fact, proven by the same sources that Rush and Glenn Beck use to fuel their fantasies, that Tea Party members are the primary readers of the Left Behind series. back
2 …even though you’re probably one of them, or will be if the Republicans have their way. Okay, I added that part.back
2Derrida wrote an entire book on the subject, but since he’s French, which means not a Christian by definition, I’m going to bury this fact in the footnotes where only people who would read writers like Derrida would be looking anyway.back

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