Wednesday, March 1, 2017

#SOL17: On Getting Into the "Christian" Heaven (or Not)

Calvary (M.A. Reilly, 2013, South Dakota)


"History," Stephen said, "is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken." James Joyce, Ulysses 

I. 

I was walking down the street in a town where I do not live when I was stopped by a sign in a shop window. 

Only Born Again, Evangelical Christians will know salvation. 

No one else will enter Heaven.


What first caught my eye was the word, heaven, and I slowed thinking about Rob, who is dead nearly a year, and wondering what happens after death. I am only beginning to emerge from the shock of my husband's too-soon-death and am attracted to possible answers I do not have. And so I read the whole message and then thought about my husband who was kind and generous to others.

He was also Jewish.  So, no heaven for him?

II.

Evangelical Pastor Billy Graham would tell you that my husband is presently in hell.

He tells his faithful, "The hope of eternal life rests solely and exclusively upon your faith in Jesus Christ! Make no mistake about this...When Christians die, they go straight into the presence of Christ—to Heaven—to spend eternity with God. An unsaved sinner’s destiny is separation from God, a place that Jesus has called hell." (from here).

Honestly, given this rhetoric, this sense of singular entitlement, is it any wonder that hate crimes against Muslims and Jews are soaring?  


III. 

In the 2016 U.S. election, 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump. Further in a recent poll, "[m]ore than any other religious group, a strong majority of white evangelical Protestants hold a positive view of President Donald Trump...They are also the only religious group to to favor the temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries" (from here). 

Is that the christian evangelical way?

Refuse entry to the dying children of Syria (unless they happen to be Christians)?

Turn one's back as families are split apart?  







IV.. 

History teaches us that it is at best, worrisome, when organized religion and politics intermingle. In more extreme situations when God's voice is heard by only a select group--mass murder is often served alongside the "saved" who murder or remain mute. One only has to think of Ludwig Müller, the man Hitler appointed Bishop to the German Evangelical Church in 1933 to understand how 'good' Christians can do evil things and do so with righteousness that defies the foundations world religions are based upon. 

Müller believed in Christ the Aryan and supported the "purification" of Christianity and the instruction of youth to pray to Jesus and Hitler. It was ordinary people, like those who prayed each Sunday in German Evangelical churches, who gave rise to the Third Reich. Those Protestant pastors who publicly objected were sent off to concentration camps. 

Love thy neighbor was written out of the Aryan bible. 


V.


For the last thirty years, here in the United States, a moral majority--the Christian right, has been flexing its muscles. Are these, like the German Evangelical Church, God's only chosen group?  Is there no Christ in this brand of christianity?

According to Graham, evangelicals who are born again don't need to be good.  They only need to confess their sins to God. 

Graham says,
“There is no judgment, no Hell, for those who are in Christ...You can confess your sins, turn your back on your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior now." (from here).

No judgment for earthly sins? 

Nope.

None.

Friends, this is how evil gets normalized.







14 comments:

  1. I do love how you structured this piece and the weight consideration ineach segment (story? stanza?). Even with so dense and difficult a topic, your creative thinking shines.

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    1. It was a difficult post to wrote and I appreciate your comments Lee Ann.

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    1. I feel we are well down that road at this point. Once alternate facts are touted as acceptable from the president's inner team, evil has a stronghold.

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  3. "Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. " I do not understand intolerance and keep hoping that we will evolve beyond it. Thank you for your well written blog.
    https://wordpress.com/post/jet197.wordpress.com/18

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    1. Janet, thanks so much. I worried a bit.

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  4. Judging from the way the evangelicals voted I am imagining a lot of people quite comfortable with all manner of sin....the rapidity of what is being normalized since November is stunning. Another beautifully constructed and thoughtful piece, Mary Ann.

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    1. It is worrisome (understatement) how we are repeating history. I pray for us that we will have the courage and wisdom to stand for justice.

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  5. Deep sympathies on your husband's death.
    Thanks for this thoughtful exploration.
    Your personal experience adds profound depth to this reflective piece.

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    1. Thanks Fran. A hard piece to write. I struggled.

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  6. A friend posted a meme the other day that was meant to be a joke. I forget the exact wording, but there was a protest sign involved that listed many supposed sins, mostly including things homophobes and bigots would consider sins. Among them: yoga pants. I laughed. But then I realized the guy who made that sign really does consider yoga pants akin to murder. That's sad. For me, religion is about learning tolerance for others, and understanding that we all need each other in the end. And Heaven is for everyone.

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    1. Seems odd that a man would ave any opinion on yoga pants--let alone situating pants as a sin. But again, if we examine history--women's clothing choices have often been held up by men and women as symbols of moral collapse. Appreciate the story Lisa.

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  7. This piece is so powerful and the last line takes my breath away.

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    1. I hope I'm wrong. I hope that a lot. Often. But if not, I am willing to stand up.

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