Monday, March 23, 2015

A change of pace....

This is about politics - but equally about religion, Christianity it particular. And I'm sure it will please neither politicians nor Christians. It begins with a very short story to set the tone.

My first job as a teacher was with a grade seven class. The school nurse came to see me. One of the girls in my class was, she thought, seriously ill. Could I drive her home, and make it clear to her parents that she had to see a doctor immediately.

So I drove her home where her mother (stepmother) answered the door. I could almost feel the hatred between the girl and her stepmother. I explained the situation. The stepmother was uncertain. They were planning to go to their country cottage at supper time. (It was Friday.) I explained the situation again, emphasizing what the nurse had said about how this might be serious, and seeing a doctor immediately was essential. She nodded and closed the door.

When I got to class on Monday morning, the girl's boyfriend, Tommy, was standing at the door with several other students. They were in tears. The girl had died on Sunday.

Her parents had decided to go to the country without the delay of an hour or so to see their doctor. The daughter passed out at the cottage on Sunday morning. They raced to get her to a hospital. But it was too far away. She died shortly after admission.

Furious, I rushed into the principal's office. I asked that the school board be contacted to lay charges against the parents.

"Well, now, Mr. Decarie, we don't want to create any unpleasantness, do we? All this would just create a fuss and upset people; and we don't want to upset people, do we? Wouldn't this be a much nicer world if only people were just nice to each other?"

Yes, the principal was quite a stupid man. He was principal only because his father was chairman of the school board. And the father was chairman of the school board only because he was a prominent Christian clergyman who never rocked the boat, and who taught his son his version of Christian principles.

Make of that what you will.

George Bush, Jr. is a mass murderer. What else would you call a man who deliberately lied to congress and the American people so they would go to war with Iraq, and kill far over a million men, women and children? What would you call a man who launched the biggest torture programme in history?

At the time he lied and murdered, he was a born-again Christian. He still is, and a regular church attender. Few seem to think this odd.

Mr. Bush, who also made millions of dollars by questionable means, and while he was in public service, earlier discovered he had faith in Jesus. He is saved, hallelujah, guaranteed the right to stroll for eternity on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem.

But surely there is a dreadful gap between what he has faith in, and the way in which he has spent his life.
And he's by no means alone.

Canadians and Americans, like most people in this world, are getting poorer while the rich get richer, and put their money into foreign banks where it can't be traced for taxes. The result is dreadful suffering, hunger, homelessness, hopelessness....  Is it possible the Christian Bible says nothing whatever about this?

For five centuries, western Christians have murdered and pillaged all over the world. The number of dead is unknown. Whole societies, like China, were destroyed with a resulting massive chaos and suffering that lasted over a century.

When I was a child, my church had a union jack beside the pulpit. And a picture of the king and queen. At concerts, the choir sang Rule, Britannia....

In the US, churches have led in the way cheering for killing and exploitation. The motive for killing native peoples in the US, invading Canada in 1812, and inflicting death and terrible hardship to this day on the the people of Latin America  was something called Manifest Destiny. Yes, It was God's will that the US should rule the Americas -and the churches cheered the loudest for it.

Manifest Destiny has evolved into what is called American Exceptionalism - which is the same thing, but applied to the whole world. Thus the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and now, perhaps, Russia.  The real cause of these wars has been the greed of American big business. But few churches say that. So they accept the motive that has justified Western brutalities for the last five centuries. Racism.

The conquests and the murders and the thefts were okay because those other people weren't like us. No. They were inferior racially. Therefore, it was all right to enslave Africans, kill or steal the land of native peoples, murder Asians. That helps to explain the profound racism that has characterized the very nicest people, especially the upper classes who made fortunes out of the murdering, all over Europe.

Hitler did not invent racism. It has flourished all over Europe and North America for centuries. That's why native North Americans were so commonly called 'savages'. There was really nothing savage about them. But calling them savage was a way of proclaiming they were inferior racially; so we were justified in treating them like animals.

Today's 'inferior race' are muslims. Apparently, their inferiority is racially inherited. So it's okay for us to kill them. Canada, this nation so largely of Christians, is 70% in favour of killing them.  Harper can score points by publicly insulting a Muslim woman for her savagery in wearing a veil.

Almost the only world religious leader to point out how loutish we are becoming is Pope Francis. But his pronouncements have had virtually no effect.

Now, I do not say that church leaders should make pronouncements. (Nor will they, anyway).

But what they desperately need to do is to help Christians to think. Perhaps I should write it THINK.

There is something seriously wrong with a faith that requires only that they believe in some god or other.
If you read the scriptures of any major religion, they are not just about believing. They are about doing.
And to DO, we need to be able to think. We need to know what is happening. We need to know why it is happening.

Is it possible, for example, that the reason we are killing people in the middle east is that the middle east is full of oil? Is it possible the reason we are prepared to kill and to die for the Ukraine has something to do with western billionaires getting control of the whole world economy?

And how does this hold up in the face of the scriptures we claim we have so much faith in?

If you are a church-goer and are respected in this society of murderers and thieves, you should be ashamed of yourself. As I look at Liberals and Conservatives and Democrats and Republicans and as I look at big business, I don't see a trace of Christian principles. - or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Confucianism in any of them.

Anyone who claims any faith in any religion and who cooperates with the dominant powers in this world is an unthinking hypocrite.

What the churches should be doing is taking a break from pancake breakfasts and Mothers' teas, and they should be holding regular meetings that stimulate their members to think, to expose them to a range of opinion, to encourage them to see what is happening and to see it in a Christian context.

It's nice to have faith. But save the mindless handclapping for Jesus.  You have all of eternity for that.

1 comment:

  1. A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace , and then at the end, punish himself even more. See the link below for more info.