Reclaiming Religion from the Left

Two television networks showcased Cecil B. DeMille’s epic 3 ½ hour The Ten Commandments this Easter: ABC and Canada’s CBC. The 1956 film had no need for our 21st century Computer Generated Imagery to convince us that the Red Sea was indeed parting, and that the “bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2). I wondered if the networks made this choice because there is really no superlative modern narrative of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection? We have Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ, but its gore and blood is too hard to take at Easter. The Last Temptation of Christ by Martin Scorsese is too idiosyncratic, and would be something to watch and study at another time in the year. There are plenty of bland and insipid made-for-television versions of Christ’s story, many of which are programmed during Christmas, but for some reason they were not screened this Easter.

Perhaps these channels chose to commemorate Passover rather than Easter, which fell around similar dates this year. Or they’re simply following the ritual of politically correct inclusiveness. Even President Obama has made Passover Seder-at-the-White House a new tradition, hosting it for the second time as President. No other President before him has hosted the Seder at the White House. Obama’s Seder started on a whim, it seems. During his campaign trail, two young Jewish aides were celebrating their Seder in a basement of a Pittsburgh hotel, away from home and family, when Obama joined their festivities.

Obama’s interest in Jewish celebrations may indeed be a liberal’s outreach to cultural diversity – after all, the White House now hosts Ramadan dinners. But, it fits his narcissistic personality, conforming the Seder to any situation he may be experiencing at the time of the holiday. At the first, impromptu, Seder in Pennsylvania when his campaign was steeped in the Reverend Wright controversies and was “in the desert,” as another campaign aide put it, Obama proclaimed “Next year at the White House” as an addition to “Next Year in Jerusalem” commonly said at the end of the dinner. Perhaps, as suggests Judi Kantor from the New York Times, this year’s focus could have been one of the universalist themes that Obama is so fond of: to free Americans from the bondage of capitalist healthcare and to give them the abundance of Obamacare.

The Center for American Progress has another suggestion. In it’s article on Obama’s Seder celebration this year, CAP cleverly used the Bible’s New Revised Standard Version to quote from Exodus 22:21: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Almost all the other versions use “stranger”, “foreigner” or “sojourner” in lieu of “resident alien,” clearly portraying a temporary dweller and not the long-term inhabitant that “resident alien” implies. The CAP’s advice to President Obama is that he treat Mexican illegal aliens with the same compassion they interpret from the NRS, and pass comprehensive immigration reform. But when we parse the words, it is clear that illegal aliens are not the “resident aliens” implied by CAP, but emboldened Mexicans, foreigners and strangers, who wish to take advantage of the lax rules and borders that makes it possible for them to enter and reside in the country with impunity.

One has to marvel at the President’s Seder chutzpah after his dismal treatment of Prime Minister Netanyahu during his recent visit to the United States. It is one thing to celebrate an ethnic festival, but another to respect the significance that the celebrants give their rituals. The Israelites that Obama commemorates in these Seders were freed from bondage in Egypt, and their descendants later received their Promised Land. Yet, Obama seems intent on removing this sacred land from the Jews, and forcing on them new enemies who are probably far more ruthless than the Egyptians.

Modern Christians are in as much danger as modern Jews. Our liberal neighbors, with their feel-good, made-up Christianity are destroying our religion and our communities. Liberal church leaders support issues ranging from comprehensive immigration reform to same sex marriage. Atheists, who have nonetheless constructed their own religion, now have their prophets. In the April 2010 publication of Vanity Fair, atheist Christopher Hitchens performs an iconoclastic dismantling of the Biblical Ten Commandments and then gives us his own petty ten. Like the Old Testament’s Jews, we have to trust that God will free us from our current tribulations.

In fact, End Time preachers use the exodus as an allegory for our liberation. Our ultimate release is entry into God’s heavenly land. But the Passover and Easter stories are also our personal stories. The journey from bondage to freedom reflects our own mundane ordeals. And we experience death and resurrection with each sin and atonement. Celebrating these holidays each year gives us the hope that we too will inherit our particular Israel.

The liberal, politically correct television stations were right after all. The story of Moses, recounting a people’s freedom from slavery, and culminating with the abiding Ten Commandments, was an apt choice for these holidays. Would that our leaders understand and practice its significance. Not just as at religious celebrations, but throughout the year.

  • Rohan

    Yes indeed the poor oppressed Christian majority with their massive representation in political, social and commercial worlds they are being subjected to horrible discrimination by those horrible atheists who want to, you know, have a separation between church and state.

    • Toma

      The hilarious thing about the rightwing religious nuttery is that the closest thing today to Jesus would be a communist hippie.Communist hippies are not high on the list of what they really really like.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

        Jesus would be a commie? If so, where does he compel? Where does Jesus make decisions for anyone or force them to do as he teaches or does?

        Commies have more in common with the inquisitors than Jesus. By their own thinking, "rightwing religious" belief CAN rightly be forced on them, or they couldn't rightly force their leftwing marxist nuttery on everyone else.

        Marxism is based on theft and compulsion, of course it's not something Christians or other freedom loving people would like.

        • Jim C.

          I would argue that if you are truly Christian, you are not "free" to do anything; you must emulate Christ. Accumulating wealth and power are not an option. Christ could have done so; he made the hard choice to do neither.

          Granted, we will all fall short of this and to really put this down to conservatives vs. liberals is to deeply miss the point.

          Of course, while Jesus doesn't address political freedom, he does speak many times about wealth redistribution from the haves to the have-nots….which is where I believe the original post is coming from.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/William_Z William_Z

            Jesus never spoke of ‘wealth redistribution.’

          • Jim C.

            Of course he doesn't call it wealth redistribution–and I am having fun with that term–but I don't think you can deny he's quite clear about the responsibility of the rich to the poor.

            I make no claims that Jesus advocated any sort of political or economic system.

          • DeAnn

            Jesus spoke of the importance of giving and caring for the poor. I love to give. I love random acts of kindness. It's a large part of the fabric of America, and one of the things that makes this country great. That attitude is on full display whenever there is a disaster anywhere on the planet! Americans rock!

            Redistribution of wealth is when the government steals all your productivity and takes credit for both the gold and the glory. I find it very telling that 0bama wants to do away with tax credits for all Charities. When he gives any amount of money for any reason, he also wants controlling interest in the company.

            I fear for any student who takes out a loan for education. Be prepared for our dear leader to tell you what you need to study.

          • Jim C.

            Government is but one side of a coin when it comes to stealing gold and glory; government is also a balancing force to private interests which can run roughshod over public interests.

            You know I have been warned that our dear leader was going to grab all our guns, surrender Iraq and Afghanistan immediately, decimate our military, capitulate to terrorists, start his own "Obama Youth" militia, for a long time now. None of it has come close to happening but that doesn't stop people from making stuff up from whole cloth.

          • DeAnn

            Give him time. He's only been in office for fifteen months. He's running this country into the ground as fast as he can!!

          • Jim C.

            DeAnn, I'll give him 2 1/2 years, to be exact. Then we won't need to speculate and make stuff up to be afraid of–we'll just look at the record and see what happened.

          • DeAnn

            Speculation?
            The government just took over the car industry.
            And the health industry.
            He's not done.

            But the government already owns you. Some bureaucrat in Washington has to right to tell you if you can get medical care or not. This is a major step in the life of any know dictator. Just ask them – they all have 'great' healthcare. That's why liberals are always singing the praises of Castro.

          • Jim C.

            DeAnn, why do people always bring up Castro and Chavez when discussing the "perils" of health care? Could it be because the examples of Denmark, Sweden, England, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands (to name a few) don't quite have the same ring?

          • DeAnn

            Nope. I chose it because Denmark, Sweden, England, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands don't take over private industry like cars, AIG, banks, and anything else they want to control. Castro does.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/William_Z William_Z

            Yes, He spoke of charity, but that’s an act he expects of everyone. He said give to ‘Cesar’s what is Cesar’s’ and that is as far as he went into social-political economics. And I don’t suspect everyone liked that answer either.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

            One still must choose, with soul and property, and Christ didn't excuse stealing from others, or taking the right of others to choose how much and who to. Who but God can judge when they've given enough?

            I can choose to emulate Christ, but I can’t compel others to do so. It’s key to our rights, our ability to coexist in relative harmony with people of different beliefs, and I’d say our prosperity.

            The compulsion and theft is the d*mning difference, and why his original post is mistaken.

          • Jim C.

            Well said.

            But if the people freely vote for it….

          • Toma

            Its so funny how Americans in the 21century try to turn an ancient Middle Eastern Hermit into their very own capitalist free market flag waving Republican.Jesus shunned wealth,castigated the rich and powerful and sought the company of all those shunned by high society like the lepers,the prositutes,the money changers,the law breakers and women with bloody discharge.He refused violence and considered keeping the law secondary to human love.And still you dare to claim him as some kind of gun owning disgruntled selfish rightwing nutbag obsessed about other peoples sexuality?The level of delusion!

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

            "I thought jesus whipped the money changers?"
            "Nevermind, he's on a roll."

          • Toma

            Why is that you people are always so obsessed about stealing from the rich and powerful,but never consider the very fact that these same people became rich themselves by undeserved privilege and by,well,stealing?

  • rcb

    This leftest mentality exident in my own church is the main reason why I no longer feel comfortable there. Too often faith and good intents take the place of any systematic understanding of contemporary events, resulting not in clarification or healing but futher errors if not downright evil.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/iyzablue iyzablue

      the leftest mentality is the reason I left the United Methodist denomination. They are trying very hard to revise the teachings of the Bible.

      • Jim C.

        Please tell us how the United Methodists are "revising" what Christ taught, and try to be specific.

        I won't hold my breath.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

          As a FORMER United Methodist minister, I can tell you that the UMC is definitely "revising" what Christ taught.

          The last time I went to a Methodist Church, it was to a Good Friday service. The minister was woman who was reading from a version of the Bible that I've never encountered, before. At the time of Christ's scourging, the following is, word-for-word, what she said:

          "And they took Jesus out, and they were mean to Him."

          I looked at my brother, a man not noted for his calm demeanor. He said, in a very loud voice, "What the hell did they do, tickle Him?" We both got up and left. I've never darkened the door of a UMC again, although my ordination certificate still hangs on my wall.

          Jim, Jesus was not a commie, nor did they tickle Him before they nailed Him to the Cross …

          • Jim C.

            OK, you have a personal story of someone who was probably not dealing with a full deck. But I'm wondering if there is something systematically inherent to United Methodist teaching which revises scripture?

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

            One of the reasons why I left the UMC is because of the directives coming from district and Diocese levels requiring the use of Bibles whose language was "violence-neutral", "sexism-neutral", "racism neutral", and promoted "social justice". The latter was described as language that would allow pastors to show their parishioners the need to serve the needs of liberation movements in the Third World.

            This was quite a while ago (the Soviet Union still existed). Liberation movements in the "Third World" were, quite simply, Soviet-supported revolutions.

            As Marley's ghost might have said, "They have had three decades to work on the chain of their abandonment of Truth … it is a ponderous chain."

          • Toma

            And the people marching for civil rights and challenging white America were also just dupes of communism,right?

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

            Unfortunately, some of them were. Most of them weren't. I seriously wish that the Left had taken Dr. King's words about the "content of character" seriously. They have moved 180 degrees from him, to America's detriment.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

            I wish I could have recorded the part of my Uncle's Eulogy a few years back done by his Methodist Minister, because there was so much revised there I quit listening to what he was saying, but in my grief, couldn’t remember much of it afterward. He was a nice man, but I don’t think he was playing with a full deck either, he was reading oddly worded scripture, and I wasn’t alone in either assessment.

            Apparently, this is nothing new, because my Father said he left the Methodist Church for the same reason around five decades ago.

            That last is an interesting question, and I'm not familiar enough with the Methodist Church myself to know (good question for my Dad, I'll try to remember) if it's systematically inherent. Your wording reminds me it might be their methodology (if that’s the correct term) or changes to it. Perhaps the scripture based nature of the Baptist denomination, and our determination to stick to the King James version makes us less susceptible to those kinds of revisions in our religious thought.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

            Personally, I use the King James Version, because I understand the language fully, having been formerly a Shakespearean actor.

            However, in public, these days, I use the New King James Version. The poetry and prose of the KJV is still there, nothing has been changed except for archaic language, and people respond well to it, because they still recognize the the KJV in the NKJV.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

        So did my Father, for the same reasons in the mid-sixties, and he didn't go back to church for almost 20 years, until he started going to my Mom's (and mine, though I usually attend one much closer to where I now live) Baptist Church.

        I remember enjoying to the summer Bible schools at my Aunt's Methodist Church, when I was little, and I'm glad to see Baptist Churches adopt them.

  • DeAnn

    The sneering comments sure to follow this article are EXACTLY what the writer are talking about. It was the kings, popes and rulers who blended the pegan with the christian – much like the resident of the white house is doing now.

    • Jim C.

      It's the Progressives. Their advocacy of 8-hour work days, child labor laws, a living wage, public libraries, public parks, an educated popular citizenry, and health care not tied to employment has been a perverse belnding of pagan and Christian…er, I think.

      • Toma

        The funny thing is all the wonderful things “conservatives“ consider so uniquely American; are actually products of an extremely liberal culture,gender equality,health care,a functioning justice system and Miranda rights,pop culture,democracy,freedom of religion and Medicare.These are all the brainchilds of liberals,liberals who were despised, ridiculed and called communists in their time.Let these conservatives at it and they will destroy everything in the name of their scary Jesus…and blame the liberals

  • http://www.thesupernaturalist.com/TEXTFILES/5.htm firehawk

    God Incarnate, a.k.a. Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth 2000 years ago. In and around the streets of old Jerusalem, Jesus of Nazareth said things and did things the likes of which had not ever been said or done before–or since. The upshot of His painful excercise on our behalf is to re-establish the good and peaceful government of God's Eternal Kingdom in the Soul of mankind. The compromise and corruption which now degrades the Soul of mankind is caused by the once-forbidden, rebelliously misappropriated knowledge of good and evil. That profound spiritual knowledge is too great for us. We can't handle it. That knowledge has caused us to make a mess of things. Jesus of Nazareth is now in the process of restoring order. He addresses the passing of today's "religion" in the 4th chapter of John's gospel: a conversation of the Christ-man with a Samaritan woman @ Jacob's well. There, the LORD formally revoked His command to worship in geographical places. Worship now "in Spirit and in truth."

  • Jim C.

    Someone please tell the Catholic Church to minimize their advocacy of "social justice." The very words make Glenn and Rush angry.

    After all, Jesus would never have approved of people who don't know how to make six figures receiving the same justice in a democratically elected republic as those who are the real "producers" in a market economy!

    • MaryAnn

      Concerning government action and social justice, the Catholic Church teaches the doctrine of subsidiarity. Aquinas's thought on subsidiarity, "It is contrary to the proper character of the State's government to impede people from acting according to their responsibilities- except in emergencies." A fuller definition is found in the Catholic Catechism: "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of it's functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with the view to the common good." The Church teaches that excessive intervention by the State threatens personal freedom and initiative, and is against all forms of collectivism.
      Jesus did not preach about wealth distribution as wealth distribution is understood by liberals in todays society. What He preached about was individual people, on their own free initiative, loving and caring for others who are less fortunate.
      Jesus did not preach against wealth and making money. he preached against loving money more than Him.

      • Jim C.

        Good reply, Mary Ann. However, I do think the Church itself is not so cut-and-dry regarding certain forms of "collectivism"–for example, the Church would appear to support some sort of universalized health care. In fact they go farther than I would, calling health care a "human right."

        The Church is more concerned with those things which do greater harm than good. This is why they support free societies and free choice, but are wisely vague about economic systems.
        http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/vaticanquotesonhe

        • MaryAnn

          Point taken about health care. I agree. However, that is not Church teaching. That is the opinion of the USCCB- AmericanCatholic Bishops. There were many Catholic lay faithful who were decidedly unhappy with their stance. They certainly heard from me. Many people have become besotted with the idea of setting up God's kingdom on earth. The problem in the church can be equated somewhat to the problem concerning American history and the fact that hardly anyone knows it. The truth is not being taught. Thankfully, people are making enough noise in both spheres, and changes are being made.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

    Lol, the words are a dead giveaway of a commie pretending to be clergy. Jesus doesn't approve of theft, and where's the 'progressive' tithing?

    • Jim C.

      You may want to inform the Pope that he is a communist pretending to be clergy, since social justice has long been one of the Church's greatest concerns.
      http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/george

    • Toma

      Jesus doesnt approve of theft?You mean him throwing away the hard earned priestly money at the temple wasnt,by your estimate,theft?

      • Toma

        You mean him interfering in the god given right of Rome to rule wasnt,by you estimate,theft?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

          Jesus held true to God, and did not resist Rome's rule or justice, which was God's instrument, along with his chosen people in Jesus' sacrifice. What did Jesus steal?

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

        he didn't steal the money changers' money, he ran them out of the temple they were desecrating.

  • PAthena

    What is "social justice"? What justice is has been discussed since at least Socrates – see Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Ethics-Politics, David Hume's Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. At the least, it means "giving every man his due." "Social justice," so far as I can tell, does not mean "justice" and is in conflict with it – "taking what is not due and giving it to everyone, regardless of whether they are entitled to it, "

  • freedom fighter

    I choose to be charitable and give to those in need. The government is not supposed to do this for us with our money, after 80% is wasted on the bureaucracy. The government has been doing this for so long, that the Churches have lost their way.

  • Toma

    giving every man his due

    That sounds so much like Marie Antoinette supposed quote "If they dont want bread let them have cake."You people are lacking in genuine christian charity,its all about me me me.My privilege,my hard earned money,my taxes,my country.The real religion of America is selfishnes.

    • MaryAnn

      Genuine Christian charity respects the freedom and dignity of each individual. The problem with "giving" things to people is that it kills their initiative to do anything for themselves. The problem with thinking for people is that it kills their ability to think for themselves. People were made to be free and responsible. A government who 'takes care of" its' people steals their freedom and dignity. Government has a role, to be sure. But it is a small one; to help create the atmosphere where each individual has the opportunity to grow and flourish and realize his human potential. When government gets out of the way, people take care of themselves and each other.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-4435-Milwaukee-Progressive-Examiner Jerome

    Actually, the building of settlements in the West Bank are hurting Israel's own security. It wastes precious resources to fill someone's religious views.