Thursday, December 13, 2007

Living in a Secular World

It’s obvious that most of the people who rail against secularism don’t understand what the term means. Because, despite their constant haranguing against secularists, most of their lives are involved in the secular world. When they’re shopping, or going to work, or attending a football game, they’re in the secular world. And it doesn’t even matter if they’re shopping at a Christian bookstore or if they pray during the football game or if they carry a bible around with them at all times; they’re still in the secular world.

Even working for a church counts as a secular job, unless they’re priests, or nuns, or engaging in some other sort of specific god-related activity. And without a doubt, a church bookkeeper is a secular position. They might be aiding those who do God’s work, but they’re paying secular vendors, reconciling Mammon’s bank accounts, and filling out heathen tax forms, just like every other bookkeeper. Hell, some of my clients consider me to be a miracle worker, so if anything, you'd think I'd get some heavenly credit for that.

For most Christians, the only time they’re not engaged in secular activities is when they’re in church. And even then, I suspect that they’re often thinking of the secular world. They’re praying that their boss gives them a promotion or that a particular boy asks them out to the dance. Rather than these people living a godly life, they’re secularists who take a brief vacation in the World of God every once in a while. And even then, it's usually out of a sense of obligation or a selfish fear of eternal damnation; neither of which sounds particularly holy in my humble opinion. I'm not sure why they imagine that an all-knowing creator could be so easily duped, but I don't think it's working.

What Jesus Wouldn’t Do

And without a doubt, the New Testament doesn’t have such a great opinion about what these people are doing. WWJD was a cute phrase that was entirely meaningless. What would Jesus do? He’d quit his damn job and start evangelizing; relying upon the kindness of strangers to provide his meager sustenance, which is what he expected his followers to do. But most Christians have a different term for that kind of person: Bum. Crazy Bum. And they’d rather spit on such people than to listen to them.

Jesus wouldn’t have to make decisions on whether to be nice to a rude co-worker, or how to treat someone who stole the Tickle Me Elmo doll out of their hands during the big Christmas sale. Because he believed that our lives were merely a trifle, and that our short time on this world should be devoted entirely to preparing for the next one. And while I’ve met a few high-minded people who look past the daily fantasyworld most people consider "reality", very few of them were Christian and none of them were the type who consider the terms “secularist” and “atheist” to be synonymous.

And so these people are no different than the people they derisively label “secularists”. And if anything, they’re a disgrace to the god they profess belief in. It’s all just a sham. Something to make themselves feel superior to others, based upon bible passages and sermons that they barely comprehend. And let's face it, anyone who reads the New Testament with an open mind understands that the people involved clearly thought the end was near and that they'd soon be joining Jesus in Heaven. But after a thousand or so years passed with no end in sight, it was only natural that people would get a little restless and want to get back to taking care of the earthly world they spend so much time in.

And this isn't even an issue of semantics. Because "secularist" isn't just some shorthand for atheist. These people are not living the Christian lives they're supposed to. Heck, even most Christians think that the people who actually live the real Christian life are a bit batty. Because these people aren't living a life that different from atheists. The only difference is that they think they can hedge their bets by doing as little as possible to stay on God's good side, while otherwise living life the same as non-believers do.

And if anything, I would think that their god would be more annoyed with them than me. I'm not sure why they think that spending one hour a week in God's House is enough to avoid eternal damnation, but I don't think it's helping them get that promotion.

Your Gospel Reading

I'll leave you with a little Gospel. Here's Jesus speaking, Luke 6:27-35 (emphasis in the original):

Listen, all of you. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you; implore God's blessing on those who hurt you.

If someone slaps you on the cheek, let him slap the other too! If someone demands your coat, give him your shirt besides. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don't worry about getting them back. Treat others as you want them to treat you.

Do you think you deserve credit for merely loving those who love you? Even the godless do that! And if you do good only to those who do you good - is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, what good is that? Even the most wicked will lend to their own kind for full return!

Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don't be concerned about the fact that they won't repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as sons of God: for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are very wicked.

I'm not sure if I have ever met a Christian who actually follows this advice; yet this is how one would act if they were more concerned with the next world than this one. Instead, these people continue to act as if this life is too important to ignore and are amazed when any priest, preacher, or monk can follow any of this advice. And no one would expect a priest to give away all his possessions to anyone who asked. They might have a vow of poverty, but I guess even the poor have expectations of owning Lincoln Towncars these days.

At best, they'll pay lip service to being kind to the wicked, as an excuse for why they're being so cruel. And while the current mortgage crisis might indicate that the banks didn't care about being repaid, I suspect it wasn't this bible passage that told them to do this. Again, most Christians have a term for people who act as Jesus says they should: Bums. Crazy bums.

As usual, the passage above is from my Catholic Living Bible, which has my name on the cover.


Mumphrey Bibblesnæð said...

It's true that it's hard to live by Jesus's teachings. I think he knew that. The point is to try. The point is to do the best that you can. That's where so many "Christians" fall short: they don't even try. They look at everything Jesus said and then see how OTHERS are stacking up. They've made themselves believe that since they belong to the right church, or follow the right televangelist, they're already as good as in heaven, and they don't need to do anything more to earn their reward.
For my part, I try to do my best to live by the example Jesus set, though, Lord knows, I fall far short most of the time. Then I ask forgiveness and try to do better next time. I don't point my finger at somebody else and sneer at how much less Godly that person is--or at least I try not to...
I also think it's kind of funny (in a sad, sad way) that if Jesus came back today, many of the people who'd be first in line to string him up would be the loudest, most obnoxious, most fundamentalist "Christians".

Anonymous said...

When you said "Here's Jesus speaking, Luke 6:27-35 (emphasis in the original):"
actually this is not Jesus speaking, this is unknown author who lived about 80 yrs after Jesus death and had no contact with him or anyone that knew him. This author is putting his own ideas into the bible as all other authors of the gospels have done. So why would God let us believe that these words, that are not his or Jesus's, are true?
He wouldn't. If he has the ability to send Jesus to us with his words then he most likely has done it more than once, like Noah, Abraham, Moses, and many more because we all deserve to know the truth if we look for it and we are not accountable for others mistakes.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Point taken about these not actually being Jesus' words, Anonymous. But I was just going by Christian standards. They believe that these are actual quotes from Jesus, yet ignore them all the same. But I'm under no assumption that Jesus necessarily said these things.

Of course, I disagree with your statement that it's "likely" that God has either sent Jesus or communicated with us "more than once". For example, while the existence of Jesus isn't assured, his existence is much more likely than that of Noah, Abraham, or Moses. And if we're getting into the idea that the Gospels aren't Gospel truth, then the Old Testament is even more questionable. That stuff wasn't written down until centuries later and just reeks of rewrites.

Beyond that, even if there is a god, I dispute that we "deserve" to know the truth. Again, by the bible's standards, we deserve nothing and are lucky to exist at all. And it's quite obvious that God allows us to believe all kinds of things about him. That's why there is so much disagreement between Christians, as well as between other religions. I mean, why would he allow Muslims to believe they're obeying their creator's wishes if they weren't? Why has he allowed Christians to fight each other for centuries over his word? Why is it that no two Christians agree on everything? The short answer is: Freewill. But I'm not so sure I agree with that either.

But in any case, it's obvious that, if there is a god, he allows us to believe whatever we want to believe. If he's been trying to tell us one single truth, he sure does have a weird way of doing it.