What Did Jesus Teach? And Why?

It’s one thing to say what Christianity is not, but quite another to say just what it is. It is easy enough to rail against its use as a political tool to support an agenda of control, but how was it a radical religion of liberation?

This is a good topic for the season, as the Western world contemplates the real meaning of Christmas. That story alone is an interesting one because it is nearly the only information known about the man named Jesus before he was thirty years old. It’s also dubious at best, but let’s leave that aside. Let’s even leave aside what Jesus himself actually preached. What did he do for thirty years? Where did he learn and meditate and eventually produce the faith that now dominates the world?

It’s a fascinating story with no clear conclusion. But we have some clues which point to a very different view of what Christianity is than what is common understood in the Western world.

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Evangelicals Are Not Christians

Evangelical Christianity has been a significant force in American politics for nearly 40 years. It dominates the Republican Party and through that much of the debate on public morality. This is a strange development for many reasons, however.

Given that about 25% of all Americans identify as evangelical protestants, they are far from a majority. They owe their influence to a rigid deference to leadership and a high degree of stubborn political action. For all of this power beyond their numbers, however, the biggest mystery is where their agenda comes from.

It’s certainly not the Christian Bible. Very little of the evangelical agenda is justified by the good book, and some is even directly opposed to the words of Jesus. It’s long past time to call out the beliefs of this group and question their agenda because it is, if anything, not generally backed by consistent Christian writings or tradition.

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No One is Indispensable

“Politics is not about power and money games, politics is about the improvement of people’s lives”
– Sen Paul Wellstone (D-MN), paraphrasing Eleanor Roosevelt

Sen Al Franken (D-MN) resigned today from the seat once held by Paul Wellstone. It came after many of his colleagues in the Senate expressed a lack of confidence in him from numerous allegations of inappropriate touching of women.

It is a sad day in Minnesota, but we move on. There are many lessons here, but what’s most important is that in a truly open system based on service to the people of the nation no one is indispensable. We are shaping the Democratic Party to be one which stands for principles first.

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The Eyes of a Child

This time of the year, the holidays bring back memories that allow us to see the world, once again, through the eyes of a child. This is not some sentimental side effect of the rituals we go through, but is in many ways the reason they are important. A few moments spent contemplating this over a swirling mug of cocoa can show that seeing the world through the eyes of a child is actually a vital lesson.

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No Time for Laughs

What is Trump’s plan to get the United States out of trillions in debt?
Up it to quadrillions of dollars, then declare bankruptcy. He’s a successful businessman.

All kidding aside, it was one Hell of a week. We found out that Mike Flynn did indeed “flip” to give evidence against Trump, although we have yet to learn exactly what he knows. And the Senate rushed through a tax bill scribbled in crayon at the last minute because they were not up against any deadline at all. Or is it because they see the end coming and know they needed to shove something through?

It’s not a time for a bunch of lame jokes, not at all. It’s a time for much better jokes than I have.

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Be Not Afraid

“Be not afraid.”
Saint John Paul II

It may be the start of the joyous holiday season, but it’s time realize a reckoning is upon us. Things are likely to get a whole lot worse.

It’s not about various predators being pushed into the light of day, although that can be unnerving as well. Politics is getting uglier and less predictable, especially with the increasingly crazy president. His eventual removal will bring a sense of relief, but the process is also going to increase tension and possibly even violence.

We are entering a time when we have to manage fear. The only way to manage it is to reject it.

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Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas is a time for remembering everything that has come before us. It’s not a kind of memorial day when we remember what we lost, but instead a day to remember the great gifts that have come to us over the many years. The circle of gratitude is widened every year as the holiday expands with new love and new memories.

It may be more important this year than ever.

One tradition for many people about my age is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. In many ways this defines the tension of Christmas itself, even though very little in popular culture has been willing to decry the commercialism that is the true “War on Christmas”. And in the process it gave us a new definition of holiday cheer, bringing Vince Guaraldi’s cool jazz into the warm holiday like a sprig of winter itself.

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