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Friday, August 31, 2012

Demagoguing Politicians in Shepherd's clothing

To be fair many Christians do follow Jesus' teachings, but many of their preachers, ministers, priests exploit those teachings, parse them, or quote conveniently from different passages of the bible, often out of context; and add to the materials their own distorted exegesis.

The Catholic Church has alternately practiced, exploited, profited from, or paid lip service to his teachings; and the Church has a 1900 year history of persecuting people who took the Bible too seriously. When they took the old testament too seriously they were burned as judaisers. When they took the New Testament too seriously they were burned as Heretics. The teachings require wisdom to resolve contradictory passages, and people tend to take literal admonishments too literally, figurative turns of speeches or mythic parts literally, and to completely miss context, even when they try to practice Jesus' teachings. Unfortunately they aren't alone. When the protestants revolted against them, they continued many of the same practices they'd rebelled against. Christians have been fighting over material issues using religion as a cover for centuries, as have other members of other religious groups.

It's not as simple as deliberate evil. Much of what goes on comes from three sources: deluded thinking caused by emotions of anger, hatred, or hurt; perverse thinking caused by emotions of hunger, greed, or jealousy; and manipulation related also to greed and ambition. This happens with other religions too, as I found out to my shame when I spent 30 years studying an Eastern Religion only to find myself being recruited by both sides of an internal war between religious factions I'd over-estimated the wisdom of. Many religious leaders are religious politicians in Shepherds clothing.

Redeeming religion starts with the humble recognition that even our best teachers are frail human beings like ourselves, and the scoundrels among us are potentially within all of us. Their roles are to comfort the sick and grieving, teach their flocks and guide them to enlightenment and redemption, and to master their own spirituality so that they can do these things wisely.  When they step into politics or power and money they step into it.

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