Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Doing God's Work, and Vice Versa

Well, it looks like the Catholic Church isn't "the great whore" loony preacher and McCain buddy John Hagee thought it was. Well what do you know? Josh Marshall went on to ask if Hagee would also recant on the whole Blame God First explanation of anti-US terrorism, though I suspect that the lobby to make that happen isn't as strong as the pro-Catholic backlash he faced. Remember, it's ok for God to hate America from the right. After all, He is a Republican.

As Hagee says:
"I better understand that reference to the Roman Catholic Church as the "apostate church" and the "great whore" described in the Book of Revelation is a rhetorical device long employed in anti-Catholic literature and commentary."

But what's odd is that in this admission he's really saying something that religious folks like him aren't supposed to say: Their beliefs came from fellow humans and not directly from the Big Guy himself. And while I don't think there's anything wrong with that and am glad to see this kind of thing made explicit, it rarely is ever said. We're all supposed to believe that a great majority of Christians, as well as Jews, Muslims and other religious folks get their beliefs directly from God and therefore can't be questioned. It's not their choice, they say. They're just doing what's required of them.

Yet...how can this be? How can it be that almost all these people just so happen to have gotten a message that corresponds directly with the one their church and preachers told them, and that these messages from God so rarely correspond with what the people in the other churchs are told? Coincidence? That seems unlikely. And sure, if you believed that your church wasn't telling you God's true message, you'd just change churches. But that's usually quite rare to switch to an entirely different church from the one you were raised in, and even still, you're the one doing the deciding on which church is the right one. You can credit God for the choice, but you're the one deciding that this is what he wants.

But of course the truth is exactly what Hagee admitted it was: They get these ideas from other people and that they can be flawed. Deeply and terribly flawed. And the reason why the Bible fits so perfectly into their lives is because that's the way they intrepret it. Even a hugely influential preacher like Hagee can make the mistake of listening to man's intrepretations and completely go off the rails with what he imagines the book says. He even admits that his belief that the Catholic Church was what was being referred to in the Book of Revelations was inconsistent with his other beliefs, but somehow it took a political firestorm for him to admit it.

Doubting Thomas

And again, I find no problem with that at all. I don't know if there are any gods or not. For all I know, the bible is 100% accurate and that one or more of these churches out there is intrepreting it 100% correctly. Or maybe there's no God, but that the bible still has wonderful messages that can help people live a better life. I have no problem accepting that. I myself don't have any god or bible, yet think I'm doing a pretty darn good job living my life and definitely think man is smart enough to figure this stuff out on his own. And so if someone becomes a better person from having read the bible, good for them. I'm all for self-improvement.

My only problem is with the people who absolutely insist that they've got God in their corner and that this backs up their beliefs, statements, and actions on everything. I find that kind of thing to be more than a little scary. Because the only thing that tells them that this is true is themselves and they firmly believe that if they doubt it at all that they've committed some sort of sin, and that self-doubt makes it so that God isn't on their side.

And while I'm not completely sold on the idea that President Bush is a religious man who bases his actions on the Thou Shalt Not Doubt system of beliefs, I've seen enough evidence that I wouldn't be surprised to find out it was true. And if anything, I suspect that he's like too many other religious people in our country, who adopt the parts of religion they like and eschew the rest. And again, while that's not necessarily a problem, it sure does cast a few doubts as to who the one making the decision here is. You can claim to be doing God's work, but in the end, you're the one deciding what that job entailed.

1 comment:

FreeGoodNews.com said...

What about Hagee's million dollar ministry scandal? How come that is never mentioned in the media? For more info, google search "open letter to pastor hagee"