Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Love your Neighbour. Give him Soup. Or Kill him.

My friend (O) CT (O) PUS is ill with an eye infection. And since octopuses have such big eyes he's out for a while. He was going to post on talk radio, but instead ran an animation video by Norman McLaren called Neighbours. (The Swash Zone link) I remember when I first saw that animation technique. I remember thinking what fun it was to watch.

I also remember when I first heard the phrase, "Love your Neighbor." I liked my neighbors, they were just like me. Sometimes I ate dinner with them, we had Mrs. Grass' chicken noodle soup with the golden flavor nugget which "you drop in yourself!"

I remember thinking, "Loving your neighbor shouldn't be that hard." Then they described how it was everyone we were supposed to love. I thought that was crazy. "What about the people who want to kill us?" Were we supposed to love them?

As a child that was a hard one to grasp. I thought that was stupid so I followed my childlike view. If they hate you, hate them right back. And, as a child, I developed a whole system of hate levels. We even had a club where we hated people who wore white socks. We called it, "The White Socks Hater's Club." We sat on the swing set and talked about how much we hated people who wore White Socks.

It wasn't until Star Fleet Academy where I started seeing the radical nature of what Jesus was talking about. Using logic I could see a bigger answer in the question, "Who is our neighbor?"

I saw how we benefit from seeing us all connected. But being half human I also understood why people wanted to redefine the words "Love your Neighbor" so that it could include killing others, or at least hating them.

I was always amazed that people could call themselves Christians yet wanted to kill people, especially people who hadn't done anything to them. That they were convinced to kill people who MIGHT kill them in the future was astonishing to me. Clearly they weren't like us and they were in the same general area so they MUST be trying to kill us."PreCrime!"

When we found out that those people really weren't going to kill us in the future I remember thinking, "People who call themselves Christians started this? Boy, they REALLY didn't get the message."

Sometimes it's hard to be a "Love your Neighbor" kind of person. I understand that.

What if you felt it was your job to figure out a new way to hate your neighbor? What if your job depended on drumming up fear of and disgust for your neighbor every single day?
That would seem to be kind of unchristian. But of course you wouldn't tell yourself that. You would tell yourself that Jesus really was cool with hating your neighbor, that Jesus was an angry guy who would flip out at the slightest provocation, "Jesus flipped over TABLES in the temple! He TOTALLY would be down with killing people!"

You would tell yourself that you have a better understanding of who your neighbor was than Jesus. Jesus never had to fear airplanes crashing into his buildings. He never had to fear a smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud. (Ah ha! He didn't even know what a smoking gun or a mushroom cloud was, they didn't exist so he couldn't have known a real threat!)

What if you felt it was your job to STOP people who wanted to love your neighbors more? What if you felt that you needed to actively work against anything that involved forgiveness, turning the other cheek and loving your neighbor? I guess that would be fine just as long as you didn't call yourself Christian. What if you sat in a pew every Sunday for 20 years and heard messages like "Love your neighbor" and then 5 days a week for 3 hours a day you preached to millions, not, "Love your Neighbor", but kill and torture your neighbor? (I'll have to ask my friend Padre Mickey at Padre Mickey's Dance Party about the kind of person who doesn't get the message, then maybe I can get on his blog roll.)

It would be nice if they just stopped calling themselves Christians, that would be more honest, but on the other hand it does allow us to use the words spoken by their namesake to challenge them.

How do they get around defying the words said by their namesake? Easy. They have a system for getting around accusations of failure to follow the guidelines of Jesus . "I'm not perfect. Forgive me. Love me. I'm your neighbor. I'm just like you! If you were a good Christian you would love me. Now please purchase Campbell's Chunky™ Chicken Noodle soup. Mmmm, Mmmm. Good. Now about waterboarding it is not torturing your neighbor..."

I'm Vulcan so I can see the flaws in their "logic" (such as it is) and the inconsistent reading of their own text. I don't have to follow the guidelines of their namesake even though I can see the logic in his words. It's too bad humans who claim to follow him can't.

Live Long and Prosper,
Your Neighbor,

Padre Mickey said...

Well, since you asked the question, I had to put you on the blogroll. Rules are rules!

Also, in answer to your question: We call those people "really stupidly slow learners" and "Republican politicians." You know, the kind of people who, after giving tax cuts to the wealthy for years and years and then seeing the economy collapse believe that the solution to the problem is to give the wealthy more tax cuts!

Thanks Padre Mickey!

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Blogger Padre Mickey said...

Well, since you asked the question, I had to put you on the blogroll. Rules are rules!

Also, in answer to your question: We call those people "really stupidly slow learners" and "Republican politicians." You know, the kind of people who, after giving tax cuts to the wealthy for years and years and then seeing the economy collapse believe that the solution to the problem is to give the wealthy more tax cuts!

2:41 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Are you talking about the Jesus in the bible? The same Jesus that whipped people simply for committing commerce he didn't like? The same Jesus that complimented a roman centurion (the enemy of the jews) for his belief? The same Jesus that promises a reckoning for those that are evil? The same Son of the God that ordered the israelites to show no mercy to the canannites (folks they had never even met yet) a people that were in fact neighbors? I do not believe that a christians first response should be violence. What you are ulitmately asking is "what would Jesus do". While an interesting mental exercise the question a christian should be asking is what does jesus want. You can determine this from Jesus's words and from the writings of the apostles and prophets. Psalm 82 shows that God expects government to protect the weak. Romans 13 says that goverment should punish evil. You simply can't accomplish that without violence of some kind. I don't think christians want to kill people but I don't think you can stretch love thy neighbor into a call for pacifism. I don't think it can be made into a call for tolerance of evil behavior. Christians can and should stand up for what they think is right. I think it can be seen as part of the greater message. A message that says that as a christian you cannot be the one that punishes people for their crimes, do not take vengeance.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Spocko said...

Jim, Jim, Jim.

See this is the problem when you bring up anything to do with Jesus or "Jesus" (Jesus being the real person and "Jesus" being the icon created by men who wrote about him.)

To even reply to your comment we'd need to do a lot of definitional work about which passages you are quoting, the context as well as the understanding of the 1st Century Jews and the world they lived in.

Now if we had all those passages, knew who wrote them and who they were writing them for we might have a better idea of what really was said. Sadly there were no tape recorders in Jesus' time.

Even then we would have to deal with translations and cultural issues.

You say we should ask 'What does Jesus want" and that we should look at for the answer are the words of Jesus, the apostles and prophets. Well did you know that the early church put words into Jesus' mouth to make a point?
What if you found out that one of the things that you had believed Jesus said he never said at all? Thomas Jefferson has this experience and he said that finding the authentic passages of Jesus was like finding diamonds in a dunghill.

I'm sure that Padre Mickey can give a better point by point discussing on this if he cares too, and if we are going to talk about violence and pacifism maybe we should include turning the other cheek or love your enemy.

For now? Have some soup.

11:03 PM  
Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS said...

All I know is ... there was this Noah fellow who had a daughter named Joan of Ark.

I'm just waiting for Global Climate Change to increase my habitat. When the seas rise 20 feet, all the luxury hotels in Miami under water will be inhabited by fish and cephalopods, like me. Who knows? I might even occupy the White House without ever having been elected!

2:14 PM  
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12:37 AM  

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