Dismantling Christianity

I recently read a pastor’s blog who is being billed by some papers as the “Rising Star of the Religious Left”. For a Christian, he’s pretty out there if you consider traditional voting patterns within the United States of Jesus. He’s trying to call Evangelicals off the scent of LGBTQI hating and immigrant bigotry while simultaneously consolidating a base of confused Christians that didn’t vote for Trump by letting them know they aren’t crazy. 

It’s not you, it’s them, rings through loud and clear.

While this is a great tactic for mobilizing support, it also continues to feed the polarization that has the US in its clutches. Me against you. Right against wrong. Hippie Jesus vs Clan Jesus.

I got a degree in History back in the day and one thing I learned is that history is written by the winners. America likes to win.  And yet, the cost of being awarded the chance to write the history of this land is much higher than most folks might be ready to stomach.

This country was founded and financed by grabbing all available land and genociding its indigenous inhabitants. I will spare you the gruesome details in this post, but if you can’t wait, you can fill in the blanks with An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. I felt like I was repeatedly being kicked in the guts about every 2nd page-- so be prepared to feel something.

Pleasant? Decidedly not. Illuminating? You could say so.

Through this reading, an image arose of a bully. Not just your run of the mill school yard bully, but a righteously militarized bully who uses religion to justify their murderous ends. From the very beginning of this dubiously established “Land of the free (if you’re white and male) and home of the brave (enough to enthusiastically kill people who have done nothing to you besides exist on something you want.)” Christianity has been a primary vehicle for building empire and bullying its way into global dominance.

Knowing your history is important. We may not be the ones who committed nation-wide genocide of its indigenous people, but we live in a society built on the tenets that actively promoted it. We are brought up on the fruit of the tree of conquest, murder, exploitation, and greed. And while great strides are being made to trample the fruits like racism, sexism, and environmental degradation, unless we understand the seed and the roots, fruit will continue to grow, and we will continue to ingest its bitter legacy.

DOWNER. But stick with me. It gets better.

Six years ago, I got married in Mexico on Mayan lands by Mayan priests. They spoke of 2012 as a time not of apocalypse and the end of the world, but rather, as a point where perspectives begin to sync to like energies. So much so, that as time continues, it is as if different worlds simultaneously exist on top of and around each other, without people having any knowledge of reality beyond the one they experience.

Skip forward to now and the current socio-political climate. See any connections?

As I’m reading this white male pastor’s blog on his polished website, complete with merch shop and banner with his face pinned to the top of the site, I wonder how much space exists for real change when the delivery system is built on domination, exploitation, and profit.

Do I begrudge him trying to make a living by speaking truth “Saying stuff that needs to be said”? Not at all, I just question how truth telling and t-shirts compliment each other. Why does compassion need to be monetized? Why does doing the right thing have to necessarily lead to building a personal empire?

The point I’m trying to make is not that he should shut his privileged white man mouth or start donating his profits as reparations to the people his ancestors killed. He may well be a bridge for many Christians between moral superiority and humility.

If anything, it is to examine the roots of the systems we now feel compelled to resist and do some soul searching to discover where they are embedded and feeding our own lives and choices.

We cannot change the skin we were born with nor the circumstances surrounding our upbringing. 

What we can do is look deeper than our discomfort to the light within ourselves. We can begin to explore what happens inside when an outside voice clambering for our attention gets listened to first. 

Make money. Get the big house. Drive the new car. Get written up in the national papers. Be recognized.

I ran a socio-economic experiment on myself in my mid 20’s. The goal was to see how little money I needed to support an environment I could be creative in. So, I picked an affordable city, Spokane, got a part time job at an independent bookstore, and acted in a ton of plays while writing my first book of poetry.

Surprisingly, I discovered that I needed about 1K per month to cover rent, utilities, food, insurance, and a little extra for sundries. Granted, I was driving a Geo Metro, walking everywhere I could, and eating pretty basic fare, but I didn’t feel deprived. In fact, I felt liberated. “Be happy with what you can carry in your Metro” became a personal mantra.

Now, I realize that being able to do that requires a tremendous amount of privilege. Being white, upper middle class, educated, able bodied, straight, and relatively attractive certainly gave me a cushion to land on so even poverty wasn’t too unbearable—because I knew I could escape it easily. I could go out and get a salaried job, qualify for a loan, buy a house, and plug into the matrix. But I wanted to taste what it might be like to disengage (as much as I knew how to) from the dominant system I was raised to inhabit.

So when I see former megachurch pastors having a “Come to Jesus for REALS” appeal in their personality based platform, and read their military-esque bio “A 20 year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry” it feels like more of the same rhetoric of domination housed in a soothingly handsome, charmingly rebellious, male figure. Status quo as usual.

Which is fine -- it is the way the world is right now and I really believe that people do the best they can, ALWAYS. Yes, even Trump.

I just want to be curious about the lay of the land, the quality of the soil things grow out of, and continue to examine the contents of that which is offered to me as true, right, and noble, especially when it lives outside my own inner voice whispering a different tune.


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