Saturday, February 20, 2016

An Unbeliever And A False Teacher Walk Into A Bar...

No this is not a joke, just a comment on the ridiculous blow up last week in the carnival that is the American political scene. Last week the Republican primary process merged with the global religious scene when Jorge Bergoglio, aka "Pope Francis", opined that people focused on buildings walls are not Christians during a trip to Mexico. His exact quote:
"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian."
That comment is clearly aimed at Donald Trump who has made a southern border wall a cornerstone of his campaign and probably the only issue where he has spoken specifically about what he plans. I found the whole thing hilarious. Here we have a man who is by any measure of orthodoxy a false teacher wagging his finger at an American billionaire, media presence, serial adulterer and Johnny-come-lately "Christian" who seems to be completely ignorant of Scripture and the Christian faith with an attack that was as clumsy as it was risible.

What really makes this amusing is that non-Catholic fanboy supporters of Mr. Bergoglio are in a pickle because on the one hand they love Jorge and think he is the best thing since sliced bread but on the other hand are adamant that one must never be "judgmental" and question the faith of another person, no matter if they believe in a false religion or believe in no faith at all. "No one knows another person's heart" they intone piously, no matter how unscriptural that is.

Unbelievers arguing about who is an unbeliever, especially when the issue at question deals with politics and questions of border integrity and controlled immigration, is a ridiculous spectacle. It is a pretty neat sample of the wacky world we live in. Someone who sleeps with anything on two legs, marries and divorces on a whim, someone who thinks that he doesn't need forgiveness because he has never done anything to be forgiven for is not a Christian. Someone who venerates to the point of worship the mother of our Lord, who sits atop an anti-Christian religious hierarchy, who brazenly takes for himself titles and authority given only to Christ, who believes (regardless of what they protest) that one must perform certain acts to be forgiven, who leads religious services in an opulent palace while scolding the people in this world who have actually worked heard for their wealth is likewise not a Christian. All the pious public acts and flowery rhetoric doesn't change that. Never has and never will. Words are cheap, public actions are as well but what and how one believes is what determines whether one is a Christian or not.

The kerfuffle would be bad enough if it were not so incredibly hypocritical and ironic. As I and many others have pointed out, Vatican City itself is surrounded by walls to keep out undesirables. While Mr. Bergoglio did not erect those walls neither is he taking them down. Why not? Well Vatican City is a sovereign state and only grants admission to those it wishes. It protects her sovereign borders like any state that wishes to survive does. Whether you agree with Trump's proposal to build a wall on our southern border to secure that border like most civilizes nations (including Mexico I might add), it isn't an issue that divides believers from unbelievers. There are genuine, born-again believers who hate the idea of a southern wall and integrity in citizenship process. There are also genuine Christians who believe that such a wall is necessary to protect the borders. Which position is correct or even the more Christian is debatable. I happen to think that there is merit in the idea. America has millions of people who can work and yet choose not to and in their place we have migrant workers, millions of them here illegally, working those jobs. As an example, one of our local processing plants that butchers livestock is backed up into May for butchering cattle because they have so much demand but can't find enough people who are willing to work hard and actually show up to work. Meanwhile our nation is full of people who don't work, not because there are no jobs because there are millions unfilled at any given time, but because they are incentivized to not work. Secure the borders and enforce the necessity of work to those who choose not to work and the need for the illegal immigrant shrinks. Just as important there needs to be focus not just on those here illegally but also those who knowingly hire them. Put the plant manager and head of HR for a packing plant in Nebraska in jail for hiring illegals and you won't see so many employers willing to break the law to save a buck.

The walls around Vatican City are another issue. Those walls keep people out and they also protect the incredible treasure hidden behind the walls of Vatican City, from architectural marvels to works of art to treasures uncountable. I doubt anyone really has a grasp on how much wealth is held behind those walls. Adding insult to irony, the treasures of the Vatican including St. Peter's Basilica was funded in large part by money stolen from simple lay people through the blasphemous sale of "indulgences", a practice that was one of the catalysts for the Protestant Reformation. When Mr. Bergoglio, champion of the poor, conducts Mass in St. Peter's, he is doing so in an opulent, magnificent building paid for by the sweat and simple faith of the very poor he claims to champion. Mr. Bergoglio and his predecessors consisting of a litany of corrupt popes live in a sovereign state on land granted by the fascist dictator Benito Moussolini and sit like a pseudo-pious Smaug the dragon on a horde of stolen treasures.

So let's not waste much time deciding who is "right" in this public spectacle. Two unbelievers fighting over which one is the less unbelieving is absurd and should be treated as such. The church has more important issues to deal with.


Dwight Gingrich said...

Interesting. :-) I had thought of writing a post on this, too, but have managed to stay out of politics for the most part so far! I guess I'll dare to wade in via comments, if not on my own blog.

I am in partial agreement with your assessment (especially about the irony of non-Christians debating who is a Christian). But I'd also add a few of my own thoughts.

First, as an English Lit major (and biblical exegete), I notice that most critics of the pope (does he need capitalization?) ignore the word "only" in his comment. He did not actually say that it is unChristian to think of building a wall. He did say that it is unChristian to think "only" of this, and not of building bridges. This grammatical tidbit is vital for fairly interpreting the pope, and it is being wrongly ignored. The pope, by all appearances, thinks of both walls and bridges. Trump? That brings me to my second point.

Second, while I have all sorts of problems with popery, I do think it is undisputable that the current pope has spent much more time than Trump building metaphorical bridges to the poor--moving with unprecedented lack of protection and distance among the poor and oppressed. He even travels in an ordinary car, as I understand it, rather than the pope-mobile of popish tradition. Trump, meanwhile, likes to buy yatchs to bolster his image and brags about his wealth. When he visits poor Mexicans on the other side of his future wall and wins friends among them as the pope has, then he will be truly free of the barb of the pope's comments. Until then... if the shoe fits, wear it.

Last, I can't help seeing the irony of Trump's rebuttals to the pope's comments. The very way he has responded, by boasting of his "pride" in being a Christian and of how he would militarily defend the Vatican for the pope, prove that the pope's original statement is true: Trump is no Christian.

And apart from the multiple ironies of all of this... I am saddened to see that among some evangelical voters the pope's comments and the Trump's come-backs are only strengthening their admiration for Trump. This tells me that they, too, have no real grasp on either the identity of a true Christian or the qualities of a wise leader. American just might get the president it so richly deserves. (And quite a few currently running, on both sides, would fit that description.)

What a mess, eh?

Arthur Sido said...

I have little admiration for the "pope" and in this case he injects himself both as a religious leader and the head of a foreign state in a rather clumsy fashion into the U.S. political scene. You can quibble about the use of the qualifier "only" but everyone knows exactly who he was talking about. I carry no water for Trump but I have no tolerance for someone who teaches false doctrine to a billion people. In the grand scheme of the Kingdom, which is worse, a huckster politician or a man who perpetuates 1700 years of damnable heresy?