Monday, May 29, 2006

Christianity Today

This article by Bill McKibben from Harper's magazine about the twisting of Christianity's message is about a year old, but I just read it today, and I thought it was fantastic. One of McKibben's central points is that far-right-wing Christianity today emphasizes messages more consistent with self-absorption than helping others -- specifically hanging onto one's wealth rather than giving it to those in need. And, frankly, it's hard to argue with him. I recently ran across a broadcast of one of young star preacher Joel Osteen's services in the sports arena he rented out to house his church, and within the first five minutes, it was hard for me to distinguish whether I was watching a business seminar or a sermon. He speaks in broad terms with real-life and personal examples, and it's distinguish to see what, exactly, that message is. All that's apparent is that he's certainly marketable and charismatic, and he makes people feel great about themselves.

I'm from the Midwest (as you all know), so it's not a surprise that I was raised in a conservative Christian church. I haven't denied my religious upbringing; I still consider myself a Christian. But what irritates me most about the version of Christianity the world sees -- Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Tom DeLay, George W. Bush, Laura Schlessinger -- is so far from what I believe God stands for. Religious tenets intertwine with politics, with sociopolitical climates, and with the economy, and that's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to ethics. But I think, as McKibben points out in his article, that Scripture is so often used to further individuals' wealth or social position and so rarely used to help the poor or the suffering. The U.S. response to Hurricane Katrina, anyone? The repeated attempts to block gay marriage, anyone?

What I took from this article is that if I consider myself a Christian person, I'd better start spending more time on others and less on myself, lest I become like a rich, comfortable suburbanite in his megachurch, basking in God's message as long as he gets to keep all his money from the new Bush tax cuts.


Post a Comment

<< Home