Eye of the Needle
I listened to a Christian Conservative radio station that touts its mission to “keep the faith.”
How, and in what sense, do we need to “keep the faith” in America, and what does that mean, exactly? It is time to address this in meticulous care. Some of you who have read this blog know a little about how critical I am about the Christian Conservative faith and “fast food” churches, and before I continue, I will say that I am by no means a fruit fly who can easily fit through the eye of the needle, nor do I know the way exactly as Jesus knew it, or know it as I believe he knew it. I make mistakes all the time, and am by no means an exemplar in every area of life. I merely speak my mind, and hope that I can walk the talk in one way or another.
One thing is for sure, however, and that is that the common Christian Conservatives of the world today do not walk the talk, and are not exemplars, as far as I can see. They are like the blind guides of Jesus’ time. And the reason is a paradox.
It goes like this: Everything must be “Christ-centered” in the common Christian Conservative worldview, but in disregarding everything and everyone else in exchange for that centralization, nothing is at the center, and nothing matters anymore. If Christ is at the center, I would put forth, then everyone is at the center. Otherwise you are getting ahead of yourself. You are skipping dinner for dessert. Once everyone else is forgotten in lieu of Jesus, you have forgotten Jesus as well, and nothing comes of it. Only self-aggrandizing and self-importance behind the mask of a half-baked piety.
This has to stop in America. Why? Because this world is following in America’s footsteps. In Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughter House Five he says that no other country devalues the poor as much as America does. “If they don’t make it, sucks to be them, and it’s their fault,” says the American way. And unfortunately, this is the Christian Conservative way as well, at least implicitly. And that is not the way it should be. “Other cultures had poor people that were respected,” said Vonnegut in his own words which escape me. Jesus was one of them. He was poor and unpopular, and was killed beside two criminals. You cannot be Christ-centered while being self-centered. It just does not work that way. America is not a Christ-centered nation, and it never really was. There are many camels in America who will never go through the eye of the needle. And many of them advertise Christ and tout the Christian faith, they make shopping-mall churches and huge jumbotrons and gigantic stadiums for worship halls and gift shops and pray for football teams and talk of living Christ-centered lives. No, Christ-centered lives have nothing to do with riches or success. They have nothing to do with pyramid schemes and the American dream. They have to do with people. Christians are always doing things and avoiding relationship, to quote a certain blogger.
So how can we “keep the faith?” To do so indicates that there was a faith to keep in the first place. There seems to be some kind of regime in the Christian Conservative world to preserve some ephemeral faith that has indwelt America over the ages, and that idea is false. All that has happened is science progressing, and the space race and the wars. America has always had fluctuating faith in terms of God and belief in God. Nothing has happened. The Christian Conservative coalition have empty fears, and they are afraid of losing power and privilege in a position in which they have power and privilege in abundance. The real people who are suffering are those who they do not pay attention to because of avoiding relationship, at least for the most part. The primary goal in the mind of a Christian, I think, is not to get the person with whom they wish to talk to get converted. It is to heal, console, and help them in every way that they can. That feels more real to me than just fitting needy people into our busy schedule without any real motive to get to know them except for assimilating them into a certain mold. Heaven is a consolation prize. God is the true gift, so let’s give the gift of God by being like him – apt listeners, loving, always patient, forgiving, and in every way relational. This is the first and foremost that I want to present to people.
While I was at a Christian college, I had no ability to be relational with people “outside the faith,” because of schoolwork and the fact that everyone around me was already Christian. But what I would promote is to allow ourselves to become vulnerable, even our hearts breaking, in order to help everyone around us and not only to witness, but to relate to everyone. We are all human, and Christian Conservatives tend to forget that. They tend to think they are either less than human or more. There has to be balance.