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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