Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Highly Favored or Highly Delusional?
Religion. One of the more touchy subjects that I occasionally touch with full understanding that most people do not know what they are talking about and merely ape, or mimic that which was taught to them ever since the days of their infancy. At least that was the case with me. I have always been a curious observer in trying to determine to what extent being religious, or believing in baby Jesus, could benefit. The benefit is the key as is how to assess the value of the benefit.
Some say if you believe in baby Jesus all your prayers will be answered, that he will be on your side and will "look out" for you in your time of need...almost as compensation for your decision to believe. For example, I recall my final home track meet of my senior year in high school. I was on the runway getting mentally prepared for my final jump in triple jump as I was a foot behind my nemesis from St. Albans School in DC. As I felt a cool breeze that Spring afternoon I began to pray, asking for strength to overcome and win as I always had against this guy. Third graders from my school lined up near the sand pit awaiting my landing, anticipating another amazing jump by Showtime, which was my nickname at my school ever since I was in the sixth grade. I felt at peace, a kind of serenity that washes over you once you have accepted all fates considering you have done all you could to perform at your best.
I ended up breaking the school record and winning that event at the same time. Now, I was never a bible thumper nor did I ever claim that I was Christian. But I attributed my victory and unprecedented triple leap to God, of course because "without Him none of this would be possible". But is that necessarily true? You often hear stars and athletes echo the same sentiments whenever they win awards. They first thank the Lord above, or some like Serena Williams thank Jehovah. Your friends and family may attribute all their success to Jesus, and would be the first to point you in the direction of their success or wealth or prominent social status as results of belief. Many pastors preach what is known as "the prosperity gospel", a religious Christian doctrine that financial blessings are the will of God for Christians who faithfully attend church, donate regularly and substantially to church offering plates (even if the plate is passed around thrice in one service), and who share the good news of baby Jesus. The thinking is that if Christians have faith, then God will follow through like a contract and deliver financial security. Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen and Bishop TD Jakes are among the evangelists who preach such Gospel. But I want to take aim at this nonsense, not so much from a biblical perspective but just based in common sense as I am aware there is no reliable Bible verse or commandment or direction from Jesus to give money as tithes as guarantee for rewards.
All one needs to do is take a look at Christians who profit, who do well, yet whose actions scream they are nonbelievers...the hypocrites. After all, why would God follow through on a contract to provide financial blessings upon those who contradict basic Christian doctrine? So, my favorite rats to shine light on in this regard are Christian slavemasters, those who brought the first shipment of Africans over in a ship called JESUS.
These men were self-proclaimed Christians, as all Christians are. They bought, sold, traded, raped, killed, molested, lynched, castrated and forcefully converted Africans on a daily basis, for centuries. Slavery was a HUGE BUSINESS and accounts for much of the reason why the United States is as wealthy a nation as it is, slaves being the first commodity traded on Wall Street. Using this "highly favored" mindset, one could easily infer that these slimy white people were BLESSED by God, that God rewarded such evil behavior. The Bible itself was used to put Africans through regular spiritual waterboarding; the religion was used as a weapon, verses being quoted, geared towards destruction of African souls. Since to these beasts slavery was sanctioned by God, proof of said sanction came in the form of freedom...freedom to continue abusing human beings for so long, and with God's blessing, further buttressed by God providing financial security as well as immunity from prosecution.
I disagree. I do not see these half-men as highly favored no matter how much they made off the blood sweat and tears of Africans. Hence, I cannot look at wealth or social status alone in determining whether or not God is on anyone's side per se. For all we know God is at best an impotent overseer, as Bishop Desmond Tutu suggested, in which case everything we do, whether we succeed or fail, depends in large part on what other humans allow here on earth. People win elections often via poll tricks, or buying their way into office - God plays no role (unless God plays role in evil too, as God did as he made a wager with the Devil to test Job...an odd wager if I say so myself). Others often win awards based on politics - God played no role in Halle Berry winning an Oscar for her performance in Monster's Ball. And God, who ostensibly hovers over and concerns Himself with the entire galaxy, is not at all rewarding any little comparably insignificant human being on Earth for good behavior, or good thoughts, or good donations in church offerings (especially if the married pastor, unbeknownst to the congregation, is fondling boys and committing adultery with women in the pews). Stop the madness people!
However, there are those who simply prefer being humble if not delusional, who prefer deflecting attention or credit from having achieved something special; accolades may make them uncomfortable or they simply acknowledge all those who helped in the process since we never accomplish anything alone. So, the next time you hear someone say they are "highly favored" based on something positive that happened in their lives, be sure to share the story of others who have accomplished greater greatness while being evil and that special feeling should dissipate.
The only people in my view who are HIGHLY FAVORED are those who are relentless when it comes to helping the poor and who do so without conscious thought and without seeking/accepting reward. Those who take time out of their daily lives to make life happier or more manageable for others who suffer are the ones who are blessed. Stay Blessed folks, and stop thinking of your highly favored SELF, when so many others need help and acknowledgment. #Matthew5:1-12