I posted a shorter version of this as a brief rant on Facebook but after I was done I realized that I just wasn’t done. So here’s an expanded version.

t can’t believe I”m saying this, but every time I read something else this Pope has said, I agree with him more and more. Especially this:

“In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”

The idealogical, fundamentalist “christians” suffer from an illness. They believe in the ideology and not the teachings (if they even actually know them). They don’t care for the sick, or the poor, or those less fortunate. They turn their backs on them, call them “takers” or “moochers” or “lazy.” Accuse them of needing “handouts” and all sorts of other less-than-charitable things. They blame the victim. And then they stand in church on Sunday and call themselves christians. Standing in church doesn’t make you a christian any more than standing in the garage makes you a car.

All the while many of these same people are professing their “faith” by way of bumper stickers, vanity license plates, and worst of all, those insipid Facebook memes.

insipid meme

They are everywhere. Professing their “faith” at every turn. Asking God to help them find their car keys, and doing so as publicly as possible. It reminds me of Mathew 6:5-7 (especially all the Facebook postings about God and prayer, etc.):

5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.…”

The more public you make your “faith” the more I wonder whom you are trying to convince of your goodness and faithfulness. I’ve always thought it hypocritical, and it turns out it actually is, according to the bible. I think more christians need to actually READ the bible. And try to understand it’s teachings, not simply use it to beat others over the head. Doing the right thing, truly caring for others — especially those that can do nothing for you, and those that may never thank you or even know you helped them — is what it’s all about. Not having a fish on the back of your car, or professing your “love of jesus” in one breath and denouncing the poor and the needy with the next (or with your vote). If you are not freely giving of what you have to those in need, and not just those that you deem ‘worthy’ or ‘deserving’, you’re probably doing it wrong. If you are trying to convince others that your way is better than their way, that your god is better than their god, you’re doing it wrong. Try attraction rather than promotion. Live your life in such a way that others want to emulate you, to do the same sorts of good works that you do. That they see the happiness and serenity and fullness of your life and want to have the same in theirs. 

This Pope sheds his papal robes and goes out into the streets of Rome to sit with the poor, the homeless, the hungry. He gives of himself to them. This Pope gets it. And more importantly he’s calling everyone out on it. I hope he makes a lot of people uncomfortable. “I am here to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”