Class Warfare Blog

December 26, 2016

Holiday BS

At one time there were but three professions: medicine, the law, and the clergy, that is, to be called a professional one had to be a medical doctor, a lawyer/jurist, or a priest/minister/etc. Apparently the expansion of the ranks of professionals has diluted the ranks of these worthy occupations, especially the clergy.

In a N.Y. Times column (Humanizing Jesus, 12-23-2016) by Peter Wehner, the author makes the somewhat offhand remark, quoting a clergyman:
The Incarnation also underscores the importance of relationships, and particularly friendships. The Rev. James Forsyth, the winsome and gifted pastor of McLean Presbyterian Church in Virginia, which my family attends, says friendship is not a luxury; it is at the very essence of who we are. The three persons of the Christian Godhead — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — speak to the centrality of community. When we are in a friendship, according to Mr. Forsyth, we are ‘participating in something divine.’

Now, conflating the Incarnation and the Trinity aside, friendship is not something I would ever denigrate, but “The three persons of the Christian Godhead — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — speak to the centrality of community”? WTF? This is another instance of Christians seeing a parade going by, rushing to the fore, and then claiming they are leading the parade.

The Trinity are not a community. This is not three separate individuals that form a committee/group/barbershop quartet (–1)/etc. This is a little like claiming Batman and Bruce Wayne or Superman and Clark Kent are having a meeting. Is this … clergyperson …. claiming that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are friends? OMG!

This does not speak well of the scriptural erudition of the “winsome and gifted pastor of McLean Presbyterian Church in Virginia.” It also doesn’t speak well for Christianity, peddling such obvious BS. Christianity’s messages are not at all warm and fuzzy. They are not reassuring. They are threatening. We are told to abandon our parents and siblings and to follow Jesus instead. We are told that many priests don’t belong in Heaven (“I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”) We are told that murderers and rapists do belong in Heaven, etc.

And, instead of delivering this core message, clergymen focus on questionable warm and fuzzy occurrences, like the miracle at the wedding in Cana (also mentioned offhand in this piece), at which Jesus is supposed to have transformed water into wine. If you can recall the circumstances, Jesus and his mother were at a wedding and disaster struck, the hosts ran out of wine! The wedding traditions of the time called for a wedding feast for all of the guests, including unlimited food and wine. To run out was very embarrassing. (Why embarrassment was a valid reason to perform a miracle and many other more important events were not, is puzzling.) In any case, Jesus goes around pouring water into the guests drinking vessels and when they taste it they are at the minimum wondering what the heck was going on. Jesus simply looks them in the eye and asks “It is good wine, no?” (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean). All of the guests would quickly figure out what he was doing and go along to prevent embarrassment to the hosts. Any charismatic person could pull this off. Heck, I could pull this off. Yet, a miracle has occurred! (I imagine this started off as a very good story, told sotto voce to one’s intimate friends, but that story had legs and, of course, got embellished. A good story should never be hindered by details.) In any case, this “miracle” was used as an example in this article of “There was joy and purpose to be found in the commonplace.” And, I suppose, great fun in casting demons into a herd of wild pigs, and … oh, well.

I remember at the funeral of an uncle of mine, an avid golfer, that the presiding clergyman claimed that my Uncle Bob was up in Heaven playing golf at that very moment. And, I thought “Wouldn’t the sand traps fall through the clouds?” and other uncharitable thoughts. I understand being a BS artist (I am a bit of one myself) but to do so as a official representative of a very large organization is appalling to say the least. (Are you listening Donald Trump?)

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