The Real Thing

TheRealThingby Brad Nelson   9/9/14
This will be a self-indulgent post, and I make no apologies for that. But writing, to some extent, is always self-indulgent. The question is whether or not one can pull in the reader by having something interesting to say.

I don’t ever mean to play my Christian friends for fools, which is why I am usually brutally honest about what I believe. And I can respect the right of another to believe what they will, at least so long as they are willing to talk about it — not necessarily to defend it, per se, but to talk about it. After all, how are we going to prove what we believe (at least in this world) one way or the other? And since I have no desire to cut off anyone’s head like the barbaric religion of Islam facilitates, we will talk.

What brought this little essay on was a friend commented to me in a discussion of religion, “By the way, your perception of Christianity, your “non-practicing” Christianity seems pretty close to the real thing to me.  Are you sure it isn’t the real thing?”

Ha! I’ve been called worse. I’ve been called “an implicit Christian.” And the subject of this-here essay isn’t about me, for I’ll tell you just what I believe if you have the time. This is about what it means to be an actual bona-fide Christian.

Yes, Yes, I know, I know: “Judge not lest you be judge.” But this, and other slogans that are typically not taken into full context or balanced with competing values, have tended to turn Christians into wimps. Most will not defend their faith even when it is obvious that some form of pure evil is trying to supplant them and play them for fools. Instead, most will go to church, turn onto the big sounds systems that they have now, and feel good about how damn “diverse” their church is.

The only kind of Christianity that makes any sense to me is one that balances “Love they neighbor” with “Onward Christian soldier.” We (they) must be peaceful, and yet not doormats. The phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner” comes to mind, but as I’m reminded by another friend, that particular phrase (much like “judge not”) has become an excuse not to uphold standards.

By all means, hate the sin, love the sinner. But for most I would reckon this is just lip service. Much of Christianity (even the parts not infected by Leftism) have been given over to the ethos of the wet noodle under the guise of “nice.” And “nice,” for instance, is why few reported on the 1400 young girls who were raped in England by Muslims. Everyone is just so damn “nice.” We must be “nice” even to barbarians.

Christians, it seems to me, have a higher bar to meet. And to me, it’s not just about belief. Anyone can believe any damn thing they want. And if such beliefs are meant purely as a kind of existential therapy, then you get what you pay for, as they say. (Or, as Jesus wryly said about the hypocrites, “They have received their reward.”) But if being more than a posier is the point, then a fuller dedication must be given to integrating a depth of wisdom longer and deeper than will fit on a bumper sticker. One must indeed “Hate the sin, lover the sinner.”

And you must be ready to kick a little ass, for I can’t find it written anywhere that Christians must be passive puff-balls whose spines are made of jelly. St. Francis would regularly kick a little figurative ass when his voluntary Brothers broke major tenets of the Order. He was effusive in love, praise, and thankfulness, but love, praise, and thankfulness were dedicated toward some object and were not just a means of self-therapy, thus narcissism was not his point. And that not being the point, if he needed to raise his voice in anger, he could still do so, for he didn’t buy into this modern idea that “nice” was the only point.

Regarding Christianity, proper, now I know what Groucho Marx meant by “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” Much, if not most, of Christianity isn’t Christianity. It’s something, but it’s not Christianity. And I don’t really care to explain myself in this regard other than to say that this is hardly a new phenomenon. St. Francis was such a rock star in his time in large party because the Church, for all intents and purposes, had left behind the Gospel long ago. Francis was teaching it (and living it) and this caught on like wildfire.

So it is possible to live a Christian life. But few do, perhaps leading G. K. Chesterton to comment, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

As for whether it’s true or not, that’s another story. But the only way to find out is to live it, not just “believe” it. This gets to the heart of the problem of “works vs. faith.” Well, if one believes, the works (the behavior) will naturally flow from that, and vice versa. Christianity is more than an incantation if it is to be Christianity.

But the chance for people to find out if it is true is restricted and soiled by people such as Barack and Michelle Obama who went to a Black Liberation Church (for all intents and purposes. a Marxist church) instead of a real one. And they are not alone in this regard. The corruption runs so deep today, it’s laughable to have any problem with the idea of “judge not” for there’s relatively little to judge positively. It’s very easy to get sucked in and become a part of the conspiracy of narcissistic relativists.

And my main point being, at least where it intersects me personally, is that the church establishment (large and small) is so corrupt and off-base that it’s nearly pointless to judge oneself by what the culture at large is doing — much of that culture having gone stark raving mad (aka “nice”).

So I don’t worry about whether I’m a Christian or not. I’m not holding out on anyone. I’m not being coy or too clever by half. It’s just that what you think doesn’t matter much to me, and I say that with a smile on my face even to my friends. This would be an unsatisfying state-of-mind for most, for surely one must check off the checkboxes if one is to be this thing instead of that thing. But with the sheer amount of posiers out there, I feel under no obligation to justify myself to anyone else.

This essay was not meant to be particularly deep, not was it going to solve any major issue. But I do think the truths of metaphysics, religion, and philosophy are glimpsed between the hills of rhetoric, lofty slogans, and even much of the overt liturgy. At least that’s how it works for me. If it doesn’t work that way for you, don’t bite my head off (or cut if off either).


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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6 Responses to The Real Thing

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    The notion that being a non-practicing Christian might make one resemble too many modern Christians is similar to my notion that, theologically, my deism would actually fit in well with the modern Episcopalian hierarchy. (But since their religion is really a branch of liberal politics, why would I want to?)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Well, I’d rather resemble Pat Robertson than Joel Osteen. Actually, Joel seems like a “nice” guy. And as we all know, Buddy Christ is the point.

      But, ultimately, the above rant should not be translated as “better than thou” but rather “Most of you guys out there are irrelevant to the question.” It’s a very interesting question. But much of the culture out there is irrelevant to it.

      After all, many people pride themselves that this is a “Christian nation.” But how then could an overwhelmingly Christian population vote for a Marxist who practiced a bastard form of Christianity?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        As Samuel Johnson said in explanation when asked about a mistake in his dictionary: “Ignorance. Sheer ignorance.” Sadly, the pit of American voters’ ignorance is as deep as the Democrats’ dishonesty. (How low can Democrat smear-merchants sink this election? Only Arne Saknussem knows for sure.)

  2. Glenn (the lesser) says:

    The idea that the country is still a Christian nation just doesn’t square with reality. Christian mores are ingrained in our founding documents, but becoming less and less so in Joe and Jane Citizen. Licentious lifestyle is no longer shunned but glorified and pervasive though all facets of life – there is no escaping it. There’s little mystery why so many of our citizens don’t revere our Constitution – it’s because the basic tenets underpinning the founding of our nation are Christian and it may as well be Greek to them. They don’t know what they are let alone believe in them.

    I’m a life long Christian of the Lutheran persuasion. One of the more traditional Christian bodies, but even within the Lutheran Church there have been disagreements where more liberal thinking/interpretation have caused schisms and fractured the unity of the body. Liberalism, as currently defined, is an insidious virus ever inching toward the death of it’s host, in the individual, the family, the church and the nation.

    We are now Sodom. I trust there is a remnant elsewhere in the world where Truth, Beauty and Goodness are more than words from a bygone era.

  3. Jerry Richardson says:

    Brad,

    Great article! Preach it brother!

    “The only kind of Christianity that makes any sense to me is one that balances “Love they neighbor” with “Onward Christian soldier.” We (they) must be peaceful, and yet not doormats. The phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner” comes to mind, but as I’m reminded by another friend, that particular phrase (much like “judge not” has become an excuse not to uphold standards.”
    —-
    “And you must be ready to kick a little ass, for I can’t find it written anywhere that Christians must be passive puff-balls whose spines are made of jelly. St. Francis would regularly kick a little figurative ass when his voluntary Brothers broke major tenets of the Order.”
    —Brad

    I have been annoyed all of my life with those supposed portraits of Jesus that make him look like some anemic hippie or some biblical metrosexual. I don’t believe those portrayals for a second. The reason that I know that those portrayals are BS is due to scripture. First and foremost, anyone who could have survived the roman cat-of-nine tails beating that He took before being crucified, and still walk to his execution is not, cannot be a wimp. He was the God/man, but he was a man. A man whose body had grown strong from all the days of working with his hands as a carpenter and from all the walking required to get about. A disciplined man who could fast 40 days in the Israeli wilderness and walk-out (not be carried out).

    One of my favorite episodes in all of scripture in rebuttal to “wimpy” views of Jesus and Christianity is found in the New Testament book of John:

    “The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.'” —John 2:13-16 NASB

    Does it make sense to anyone that an effeminate Jesus would have been able to put enough fear into a mob of Jewish moneychangers to chase them away from their chosen place of business? I don’t think so.

    As to that often utterly misinterpretation scripture:

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” —Matthew 7:1 KJV

    The fact that so many people, Christians included, interpret this verse to be a proscription against judging other people, who often need judging, is simply one of the best illustration available anywhere as to what happens when someone improperly takes scripture out of context.

    Verse 7:5 supplies the absolutely necessary context for understanding the meaning of this passage of scripture beginning in verse 7:1.

    “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” —Matthew 7:5 KJV

    Jesus was talking here to hypocrites; He was not telling Godly people NOT to judge. That is an utterly ridiculous notion. We, Christians, absolutely should and must pass judgment upon ungodly behavior, rather than just tolerate it; whether it is in our own lives, in the lives of others, in our own society, or in the world at large. Jesus’ point was: make sure you tend to the BIG (beam) sin in you own life, and then you will be properly positioned to assist with the little (mote) sin in someone else’s life. If we don’t do that, we are being a hypocrite and Jesus’ words are apropos to us.

    We are, of course, told in scripture to speak our “truth” in “love”.

    But occasionally “truth in love” may best be accomplished with more than just some drippy-sweet words. You don’t believe this? Reread John 2:13-16. And when you have finished reading I would relish hearing a justification for Criticism of Jesus as to why He platted a small whip and DROVE (yeah with the whip) the moneychangers out of the temple. That wasn’t very loving. Why didn’t he just talk to them? In Brad’s terminology we could even say that Jesus kicked their butts. Which of course they needed. They were defiling a place that was sacred.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Great article! Preach it brother!

      Thanks, Jerry. I thought I had wandered straight into “You’re going straight to hell” range with that one.

      ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.’”

      Ya suppose He had Joel Osteen in mind? No, from your description (and it’s a good one…haven’t read anything quite like that before), Jesus was no Buddy Jesus. He was no wimp.

      But occasionally “truth in love” may best be accomplished with more than just some drippy-sweet words.

      It’s my belief that people tend to veer toward the drippy-sweet words and couldn’t-hurt-a-fly Mr. Rogers-like demeanor because they know only how to ape the outer forms of Christianity. But if a sense of decency is allowed to penetrate deep down, it’s not just about walking around with an Osteen-like shit-eating grin. You’re going to get righteous angry from time to time when you see gross injustices.

      What we have instead, particularly with the touchy-feeling Leftist-inspired (if that is the proper word) Christianity, is everyone being nicey-nice no matter what. The height of “goodness” is not to judge…even if such judging allows true evil to stick its nose under the tent.

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