False Christians ruin it for the rest of us
“For now you have hijacked the Son,
Last time I checked He came to light the lamp for everyone” – Tori Amos
It took me a really long time to get around to even considering that Jesus had something to offer me. Not because I disliked His teachings, in fact, he was quite sensible and had the same values I share. No, I didn’t consider Jesus because of his followers. Followers like Fred Phelps of God Hates Fags fame, the one who demonstrated at Matthew Shepards funeral. Followers like the rigid Christians I knew in school, eager to bandy about words like Sin and Hellfire and the one true Saviour. They irritated me. For that reason alone I stayed away from Christianity. I didn’t want to become narrowminded, didn’t want to be like them. Didn’t want to invoke the same deity as some homophobic redneck from the Bible Belt.
I much preferred Buddha’s teachings, finding truth within yourself by your own spiritual regimine. Having compassion. I still like Buddha. The first time I meditated, I mean, really was able to still my mind, I felt my consciousness expand to include every living creature as myself, from an ant crawling along the edge of a leaf to a killer whale leaping out of the waters of the Georgia Straight. “Can it really be that simple?” I wondered.
Later on, when I went crazy, I started reading the Bible. Not the Old Testament, the grumpy God who was always changing his mind and smiting people. I read the New Testament. The life and times of Jesus. Jesus never made faggot jokes, or encouraged bloodthirst. People didn’t even call him the messiah while he was alive, they always called him Teacher. I liked that.
I hesitate to call myself a Christian, for reasons I will elaborate further. However, having had a psychotic episode, having been in an altered spiritual state, I will say that yes, I do believe Jesus was an actual historical figure. I do believe in a God (although I do not consider it gendered).
I DON’T believe that the only way to Heaven, the Afterlife, what have you, is by being Christian. You may be baptized and go to church regularily, but you can still lead a fairly impoverished spiritual life. Consider the example of a very famous “Christian” who leads a very corrupted spiritual life. George W. Bush has turned nearly everything he has touched into crap. He’s a dictator who electronically stole the last election and stole the previous one by denying many blacks the right to vote. He gets very angry at any collegues who give him bad news, turning his office into a group of simpering yes-men and women. He has illegally started a new Viet Nam, trashed reproductive rights, and maintained queers as sub-citizens with limited rights, he ignored New Orleans. And yet he is OBSESSED with portraying himself as a good Christian.
That makes me sick. While I still tenuously toy with the label Christian, my loving grandparents are avowed Anglicans, and have been for decades. Gramma does Bible Study, Grampa translates the Bible and is an ordained minister. They love and support me, their lesbian granddaughter, and even do queer rights activism within their church. They are perfect Christians. And yet what they practice seems so far removed from what Bush practices.
In some ways, I think I should call myself a Christian. I think it’s time to take Christianity back from those who use it as a tool of oppression. Learning unconditional love, even for figures like Bush, is difficult, but an important spiritual exercise.
Even Jesus knew what his followers could do.
“When the Judgement Day comes, many will say to me ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God’s message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles! Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me you wicked people!'” – Jesus