I admit it. I’ve been dying to comment on the Indiana debacle, but I didn’t want to interrupt my regularly scheduled programming. Such as it is. And then I injured myself and had a really bad 36-hour headache. Don’t do that.
Like a lot of people, I railed against the different state governments, my jaw hit the floor when Wal-Mart spoke up against the “religious freedom” debacle, and I’m still shaking my head over all the insanity. But on the bright side, I’ve read some really good analyses of the situation. But it all basically comes down to how you view religion. Christianity in particular.
Last week was Easter– the most important holiday in the church year. It’s also an incredibly unpleasant time for Christianity on Social Media. Anti-religious groups go all out. The religious right goes all out. Liberal Christians trying to salvage the situation go all out. It’s probably a miracle that no one does get killed by mob rule and ineffective government… well, no one but the reason for the season.
So what does this all mean? Well, me being an ELCA Lutheran, I’ll start by looking at the original reformer. Martin Luther, pre-Tower Experience, perceived God as a merciless judge, always marking down his sins. After the Tower Experience, Luther realized that God was merciful and loving– however, a lot of people still have the other image. The merciless image is so powerful that those who see it don’t want anyone to see the merciful one, and they probably think they’re being helpful by so doing it.
And this is what it boils down to, no matter what kind of intentions they begin with. “I’m free to play God and act like a corrupt judge. I’m free to deny justice, even when the widow keeps knocking on my office door, asking for her case to be fairly decided.” The road to hell, as the saying goes, is paved with good intentions.
After all, the disciples had good intentions when they drove off a different follower of Jesus, who was healing and performing other miraculous deeds. They expected a gold star, but got one of the harshest rebukes from Christ. Jesus, you recall, made a point to hang out with people the rest of society didn’t like, and he caught plenty of flak for it from the authorities and general populace.
The disciples sometimes really are the “duh-sciples.” And we’re not talking about the twelve who had no mass communication. We are all disciples, and we stick our feet in our mouths, are myopic to our own privilege and can be holier-than-thou, just like Peter, James, John and the rest. Easter illustrates their foibles better than any other Biblical incident.
When these foibles are all the cynical general populace sees, religion (be it Christianity, Islam, or Buddism) becomes the mustachio-twirling villain. Or whatever the appropriate stereotype is, because based on my knowledge of anti-Islam stereotypes, they aren’t allowed enough class to twirl their mustaches.
So… the law is horrible. The pizza thing is ridiculous. The Internet is a mess. But if there’s a mustachio-twirling villain in this, they’re not found within the pages of my toasty Lutheran Study Bible. They’re found among us. Or even worse, they’re minions cowering before an imaginary harsh judge, mustachioed villain. And that makes them more sad than sinister. They should read Romans 1:17.