Sermon on the Mount

We have discussed what Christianity isn’t, at least in terms of a political agenda pushed by some. We’ve talked about where his teachings may have come from and the unique moment in history that brought the world together. But what exactly did he say?

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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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A Crisis of Faith

Rejection of the “mainstream” is an important part of the polarization and radicalization of America. Socially and politically, movements on the left, right, and whatever else there is measure their stands by how far outside the establishment they are.

For all the bluster, it’s mostly nonsense. Trump supporters often rely on Obamacare, as they are learning, if not social security and other programs. Left wingers usually have jobs like anyone else. Everyone has sold out in nearly every way possible – except one. Religion and spirituality is the one place where the true mainstream is indeed slipping away, caught in an “uncanny valley” where the teachings seem too simple, too childlike, to be relevant.

And this is the one place where America is truly failing.

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Start the Year Right

Happy New Year! In this time of turmoil it’s hard to say what the turn of the calendar will bring. Yet it remains true that life is what we make of it.

Barataria promises to dedicate itself to spreading as much peace, brotherhood, and happiness as possible in 2017. We’re all going to need it. Someone has to lead the way – which is just what this piece is about.

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