Watching Veggie Tales No More Makes You A Christian Than It Makes You A Cucumber

And other entirely random thoughts I’ve been trying to coalesce into a coherent post for about three days now. I’ve got my head in two books at the moment, one I worked on 18 months ago and one I’m writing now, and getting my head into God stuff is hard on a day when my most difficult decision is whether to have another cup of coffee, much less on a day when I realize my 18th chapter reads like Jonah Goldberg wrote it after smoking crack with Gertrude Stein.

So anyway, the Crack Den’s been on about religion for a while now, the way we do and don’t discuss it as it relates to values and voters and other chewy stuff, and I’ve got a bunch of stuff I’ve been saying in various comments over there and I thought I’d just throw them all out here to y’all to convince you I’m not ignoring you. But if you want coherence, as usual go read Robert. What are you doing looking for coherence here, anyway?

First, a declaration. I don’t want to take your Jesus away, nor give you one if you don’t have one you like. I so deeply don’t care about your Jesus, except during discussions at 3 a.m when we’re drunk. Then I’ll get all romantically Roman Catholic on you about the meditative value of the rosary and the radical equality of the communion rite, and how cool I think it all is.

But in the harsh light of day, as it relates to your stuff or lack thereof? Whatever. I care about one thing with relation to the human beings with whom I surround myself: I care how they act. If you’re an asshole, selfish with your kids and cruel to panhandlers and always talking at rich dinners about welfare cheats, how you came to divine all that through Scripture doesn’t mean dick to me, I’m leaving your company and not returning. It’s what you do that matters.

Still, if you’re asking my opinion (maybe you’re not, maybe you were hoping for some off-peak ferretblogging, but still, if you were asking) I believe using your “faith” as a substitute for your “brain” is an insult to both.

I believe calling an organization “Faithful Democrats” is a tacit slam of everybody who’s not in your little club, and it reminds me vividly and uncomfortably of those commentators (whose names may or may not resemble Joke Line) who would go on morning shows before the war began and talk about how they’re against the war, but not in the same way as those patchouli-stinking pussies over there. Faithful Democrats. We get it. You’re the good ones. We over here are the stereotype of God-hating that you good faithful Dems have to work each day to overcome.

I believe if we put as much money into the various good works Christians purport to support as we do into Jesus-themed tchochkes we could slay all four horsemen at once and have enough talents left over to swim around in like Scrooge McDuck. The money from the Left Behind books alone, not to even get STARTED on the Passion of the Christ and its crucifix nail necklaces, could cure death. Consumer consumption is not faith, not to me, and on this one I’ll go to the mattresses. Buy all the “Footprints” prayer stuff you want, but don’t act like that’s all you have to do to get in good with God.

Speaking of which, I believe using your faith to shield you from a vigorous argument doesn’t make you devout, it makes you a moron and a coward. Some of the best “people of faith” (I’m using that phrase just to make Atrios insane) are people I can have hours-long arguments with, people who’ll challenge and chew over subjects for hours, over everything from doctrinal differences to political issues. They’d be insulted by the notion that faith is some kind of mental shortcut.

And I believe they’d be right.


11 thoughts on “Watching Veggie Tales No More Makes You A Christian Than It Makes You A Cucumber

  1. here’s my deal…
    when i look at a sunset, at a baby laughing, at a flower blooming, at people in love, at the ocean lapping at the shore, i see god.
    but nowhere do i see jesus.
    that’s just how i am.

  2. Spot on, A. If half as many that talk the talk, walked the walk, the political and social climate in this country would change dramatically. Most of them don’t even know the details of what they profess to believe.

  3. “Most of them don’t even know the details of what they profess to believe.”
    Or, worse, are in denial about it.
    Well said A. (And re: the post headline: spot on! I’m not a fan of Veggie Tales because of the Sunday-school moralism, but because it’s just so darn funny! Personal favorite is ‘Jonah’ – I defy anyone not to sing along with ‘The Pirates who Don’t Do Anything’, they’re probably the funniest pirates this side of Penzance, and the ‘blooper reel’ where Jonah the posh asparagus is trying to ride a camel is hysterical…)

  4. “It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort or whatever it is that a particular ego is seeking. One must step out of spiritual materialism. If we do not step out of spiritual materialism, if we in fact practice it, then we may eventually find ourselves possessed of a huge collection of spiritual paths. We may feel these spiritual collections to be very precious. We have studied so much. We may have studied Western philosophy or Oriental philosophy, practiced yoga or perhaps studied under dozens of great masters. We have achieved and we have learned. We believe that we have accumulated a hoard of knowledge. And yet, having gone through all this, there is still something to give up. It is extremely mysterious! How could this happen? Impossible! But unfortunately it is so. Our vast collections of knowledge and experience are just part of ego’s display, part of the grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in so doing, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure, as spiritual” people.
    But we have simply created a shop, an antique shop. We could be specializing in oriental antiques or medieval Christian antiques or antiques from some other civilization or time, but we are, nonetheless, running a shop.”
    -Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
    Cutting through Spiritual Materialism

  5. You know, I would understand perfectly if they used the Faithful Democrats tag to skewer the RWNM and point out to the mainstream press that, yes, many Democrats do have faith, you idiots, so stop treating us like unicorns and the Loch Ness monster. It would be very useful to have out the group out there, with that name, defending Democratic poilicies and principles from the whole “godless” bullshit–and pointing out that they don’t think Jesus would condone this or that administration policy or this or that Republican power play.
    If, however, the point is to “give people of faith a place in the Democratic party, because we feel they have none” than that’s bullshit. So what if Democrats don’t go around talking about their religion? Are they helping the poor? Are they feeding the hungry? Caring for the sick? Providing for the widows and orphans? Who cares if they are “people of faith” as long as they get the job done?
    I don’t know how many people realize that the Samaritans were non-Jewish Semites: pagans, essentially. One of the main points of the Good Samaritan parable is that **a person’s faith is irrelevant: the only thing that counts is their deeds.**
    (Caveat: I don’t have enough knowledge of the organization to say which case is true: just giving my take on the overall issue in abstract.)

  6. Did anybody else hear the LOL moment on NPR this morning? They were doing a bit on evangelicals and had a gal on dressed head-to-toe in silver spouting off about how she wants women to be Supermodels for Christ–as beautiful inside as out.
    Apparently she suffers from a congenital inability to comprehend irony.

  7. And more on topic, can we *please* just require every human being on the planet to read John Locke’s Letter on Tolerance and then discuss it amongst themselves? At least *some* of them would get it, and that would be a great start.

  8. sorry, I intended to add this to above commen but intending to do so didn’t make it happen (see also, faith without works)
    Anyway, meant to add that I think we need to reframe the debate entirely but saying we are a Constitution-based organization.
    You want to know what I believe in?
    I believe in the Constitution. If you do as well, then let’s get to work.

  9. One Saturday last summer, as I was exhaustedly clearing away the remnants of a bakesale for Habitat-New Orleans that had me slaving in the kitchen past midnight every night for a week, and then on my feet all day Saturday trying to entice a crowd that averted eyes and all but screamed KATRINA FATIGUE! at me, over my radio Bobby Kennedy pronounced that “true altruism is not possible without belief in a supernatural being.” He said that anything else was “fake altruism, of the Wal-Mart variety.”
    My weary legs wanted to kick his ass from Vancouver to NOLA.
    Though I think it’s sad that Kennedy and others feel prodded by external forces into doing the right thing, I don’t fault them for having a religious basis for their good works. But they sure feel free to fault me for not having a religious basis to mine.

  10. TheaLogie –
    And how can you not love Larry the Cucumber serenading his stuffed Manatee? “Barbara Manatee, you are the one for me…”

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