American Culture

Through a glass darkly

I’m sharing this article from Independent Journal Review just to make a point.

hypocritesIndependent Journal Review: Those Outraged At Trump Blocking Refugees Didn’t Seem To Care About What Obama Did To Cubans

I learned of it from the Facebook page Conservative Daily. To hell with that page, no link. Thanks to my embrace of people at least as good-hearted as me however differently, people of widely differing viewpoints, I have the good fortune of seeing this kind of crap splatter across my screen on a regular basis, like I’ve just flown under a magpie’s flight path at exactly the wrong time.

For the moment, for the point I’m coming to, I actually don’t care if the claims in this particular case are true or not. The truth of the claims is beside the point. To the extent that we had similar or analogous issues during Obama’s two terms and gave those issues a pass for whatever reasons, that was wrong. Our “side” (well, your side, I’m a rabid independent, but the view is better from over here), is silent all too often about too many things. Rather than nursing a spark into a self-sustaining flame and moving to the next issue confident the blaze before will stay lit, we see the empathetic and reasonable left jerk forward in time like so many sputtering sparks in succession. Incidentally, it’s that selective blindness that gave the lie to the “hold her feet to the fire” mantra as the Hillary camp desperately attempted to sweep up its broken pieces. On what basis was a reasonable person to expect that would work? The example of Obama’s unblistered soles?

To be fair, part of y/our lack of outrage over things at least similar to this claim was that we can only be outraged by that which we know, and the media did a piss poor job documenting all the facts of Obama’s administration.

What makes a post like the one from IJR relevant, with zero regard to its truth value, is that there is a market that will take it at face value without need for fact-checking and assign it a high truth value uncritically. For the moment, the pros/cons of that approach are beside the point. It’s enough to know that it often is the case. And on the basis of this piece of information to which they assign a high truth value, right or wrongly, they come to believe a thing to be true of their opposition’s character. Ironically, it seems to me they arrive rightly at the character assessment all too often, but for all the wrong reasons.

That said, I will never understand how their side of this battle generally fails to understand that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Who cares if the other side does it, too? Root it out where you can, and that’s right at home. Or am I misreading that? Is this more the Adam and Eve tale of the forbidden fruit all over again? Let’s suppose opposition means to do well, and they see us turning a selectively blind eye to the least of these wherever they may be found, or making insufficient noise in the past to justify y/our decibel levels now. Maybe, even though they’ll never admit it, they take their moral cues from over here? I doubt it entirely, but how else is the above a rebuttal to anything then? “See, you did it, too! We were just sort of following in your footsteps as well as we could and you led us wrong,” might almost be exculpatory, except for that whole Adam and Eve thing. If that’s the game that’s afoot, they should have known better. Blaming Eve who blamed the Serpent didn’t get Adam off the hook then, either.

But I’m pretty sure they aren’t taking their moral cues from us. In which case, how does sharing that kind of post even remotely help their case? “We’re doing a thing, and it’s a lot like a thing you did, so you don’t get to bitch about the thing we’re doing,” is hardly the kind of explanation that would get a three year old off without a timeout. I’m pretty sure that was part of my early training in “two wrongs don’t make a right,” if not word for word.

“Well, he did it, and we’re just doing it, too!” Could that be what they mean? Did they ever have The Talk? No, not that one. The one that goes, “what, if your idiot friend jumps off a bridge, you’re going to do it, too?” Everyone else is doing it never made it right. At least, that’s what I learned as a kid.

Is there any way to share such an article unironically and not have it just be a really poor reflection on the person sharing it. If you’re not sure, ask a child. The child gets it.

Which leads me to an awkward observation.

Hypocrites don’t practice what they preach.

Somehow, calling a hypocrite out on hypocrisy is, itself, hypocrisy. I get that if it’s two people who both claim to adhere to the principle of non-judgment, especially when it’s a Biblical justification.

But I’m agnostic. I lean toward a Jeffersonian Epicurean-flavored deism. That’s not my rulebook. I don’t have a non-judgment clause. As far as I’m concerned, we’re all proctors, and this is for a grade.

So, from my perspective, it’s extra special to see Hypocrite A accused by Hypocrite B and retort somehow that it’s Hypocrite B who has the problem as if they hadn’t just a) done it right the fuck back, again, like it’s still not wrong when it was JUST pointed out, and b) passed up some of that marvelous personal responsibility, the kind where, upon learning of one’s beam thanks to some rude asshole, maybe addressing the beam is the top priority.

And by sharing this kind of un-selfaware crap, Hypocrite A’s team as much as confesses for all to see that they know the actual substance of the complaint is valid, that we’re facing policy driven by atrocious character flaws at best, and Gospel-defined sin at worst.

And they’d rather point fingers.

If this weren’t so tragic, I’d almost be amused. Sometimes even I can’t bring myself to mock. It’s tragic.

Team B, y/our team, needs to get its shit together. We need to stop accepting the spinelessness of a party that has Schumer plugging for the opposition. We need to stop accepting the spinelessness of a party whose candidates for chair can’t bring themselves to note that the way the primary was handled was a foul affair. We need to be better networked in some fashion that we can remain aware of all that we need to be aware of, with or without mainstream media’s help. We’re a market. That product will come when we demand it. And we need to stop picking favorites between the government toddlers. For a real child, maybe I’d quibble about suggesting corporal punishment, but I’m speaking in metaphors so it’s time for the belt to come off.

But Team A?

You really need to stop getting butthurt when people quote Jesus to you. I kid you not, quote Jesus at one of these people and they flinch. It’s like sprinkling holy water on them. They will quote any other part of the Bible to rebut Jesus. Seriously. Did reading the Gospels teach them nothing? How many times did the Pharisees try to trip him up with legalistic quibbles from Scripture? And he took them down every. Single. Time. He demonstrated time and time again that it is the spirit, the principle, of the law that matters. His ministry was one of clarifying it over and over and over again. Sometimes he expressed his frustration that people just couldn’t get the abundantly obvious whether it was spoken plainly or given to them in cryptic parables. Thick as a brick then. Thick as a brick now.

And part of the problem is that we have people struggling at an 8th grade level of literacy and reading comprehension trying every trick in the book to not take Jesus seriously when he speaks his most plainly in the red letters.

And it should be really embarrassing for them when, in the attempt to tell Jesus just how wrong he is again, they try to throw out a verse by way of rebuttal and end up only demonstrating their failure to comprehend fairly simple English. I get why these people have a desire for English as their official, national language. It’s the only one they have, and they suck at it.

Immigration is all the rage right now. So that’s the topic getting things like the Hypocrite’s Gambit from IJR and Daily Conservative while people of genuine conscience, Christian or otherwise, seek to address the wrongs right in front of us.

And that’s why some of us are keen to remind others of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 in the parable of the lambs and the goats. He had specific things to say about immigrants and refugees there. Don’t be a goat.

The sheep are to be blessed. Why?

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

The goats? Not so lucky.

41 …Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

That sure looks like Jesus saying, “go to hell, goats” to me, except when I say it, it’s supposed to be figurative. I’m pretty sure Jesus wasn’t speaking figuratively there. Or ironically. He wasn’t just kidding. And if one is a believer who stings under the lash of these verses, good luck trying to prove Jesus wrong. Feel butthurt and offended and retreat to your safe spaces where people aren’t supposed to pick on you for your false witness and your hypocrisy all you want. We see you and know you for what you are. Your floundering, looking for clever comebacks, just makes it look worse. Sometimes, like I said before, it would almost be funny. Except it’s not. It’s tragic.

It’s tragic when someone of faith posts anti-immigration and anti-refugee posts.

It’s tragic when that person flinches under the admonishments of Jesus in the red letters.

It’s tragic when that person tries to rebut the point by mentioning that, “well, yeah, but…we’re also supposed to cast out the evil from within.”

Ohhh, that might, maybe could be a real burn.

And yes, yes it is. It’s a burn on the person who had the temerity to allude to a passage they couldn’t even be bothered to look up first, a passage which they utterly, and ironically, failed to comprehend at even the most basic level.

For your consideration, I present to you 1 Corinthians, Chapter 5 (New American Standard Bible). Christian or not, it speaks clearly to a way to address the motes and the beams in y/our own eyes. No anti-immigration “Christian” should get off scot free when trying to abuse their own holy Scripture this way. And the moral is the same for anyone reading it. Don’t worry. It’s short. Give it a dramatic read, and it’s quite the scold.

1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan [see link for one explanation of this language as excommunication] for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

I’ve bolded some parts above for emphasis. Paul is the one with the penchant for all caps. That’s Paul doing the yelling there.

So, for the reading comprehension challenged, here are some pro-tips on deploying your holy Scripture as a weapon without it blowing the bolt carrier group back through your face. And please, if you can’t understand this passage without my help, please spare the rest of us the indignity of your claim to some special discernment when you don’t even know the language.

There is a general correlation between a certain strain of politicized, mostly white, evangelical “Christianity,” anti-immigration and anti-refugee sentiment, anti-LGBTQ equality before the law, and this kind of virulent response to accusations of hypocrisy.

So, if a so-called Christian is going to try and argue against the moral imperative of taking care of the least of these generally speaking, and immigrants in particular:

a) Paul sets the precedent that judging the communion of believers, the congregation, the brother/sisterhood is an expectation of Christian behavior. Therefore, to the extent the Bible is inerrant (arguable), Paul must be right. Or he’s wrong, and we can play games with your fumbling claims to inerrancy.

b) The unrepentant sinner if your midst must be cast out to the devil, read: excommunicated. Maybe out here in the company of our unclean souls you’ll finally see the light. But I doubt it.

c) It would really be nice if these spiritual admonitions were coming from within your own ranks, but you’re led by the likes of such false teachers as Billy Graham, Jr. and Pat Robertson. So it falls to those of us outside your congregations to point and blame.

d) Liberal Christians who feel it’s not their role to judge? Bullshit. Get with the damned program. 1 Corinthians 5 is your call to spiritual battle. Stop with the non-judgy bullshit. This shouldn’t be my heavy lift from out here in the agnostic stands.

e) Am I blameworthy for noticing from out here? God will judge me. See also: verse 13. Am I a hypocrite for pointing things out? God will judge me. You, meanwhile, have been served notice. You know what rot is in your midst. And you boast. And you cavil. It doesn’t matter how you gained that knowledge. Your mission is clear:

Clean your own damned house. And by that, I’m not being vulgar for once.

Your house is damned. I’m doing you a solid by pointing this out. It’s a service I offer. It’s one I offer often enough I should just consider myself an agnostic chaplain by now.

Your donations would be most appreciated. Otherwise, the pay for this sucks.