wednesday night waltz - can the left win? a q and a with zephyr teachout cat ownership not linked to mental health problems excessive ceo pay and dumb luck why facts don't chang...
Sunday, February 10, 2013
The Sermon On The Mount's Lost Ending (Warning: Obscenity)
"Really?" he asked. "No one's going to call me on any of this? You're just going to hit me with those stupid grins like I handed you a plate of butter cookies, because I said a whole bunch of stuff about being nice and everyone likes hearing about being nice...
"Is that it?
"No, you just don't understand. Let's all put our brunch plans on hold, because if you really heard what I said, you'd be absolutely terrified. You'd want to run or give up your faith, or kill me right now, because what I said was impossible. What I said is absolutely going to break you. If you're lucky.
"Let's review: First, every powerless loser on the planet is doing better than you are right now. The meek, the mourning, the poor in spirit - they're all going to win. And that means every single bit of privilege you're spending your whole life chasing after is useless. And before you can really comprehend how upside down you are, let me just reaffirm every crazy rule and regulation in the original Law. The shellfish, the pork, and that utterly bizarre stuff about killing birds to cure your leprosy. It's in effect until the end of the earth. So you've got that nonsense rattling around in your brain forever.
"But wait. I'll make it even harder. You can't get angry without cause. You can't wrong anybody for any reason. You can't get divorced, and you can't even look at a woman with lustful thoughts - I mean, seriously, how many of you people have been checking out some talent just now while I said that? You have to be willing to mutilate yourself to be perfect. Give your enemy every advantage, and pray that God Himself helps him. Donate money whenever you're asked, and never, ever be showy about any of this. And be cheerful while it's happening - did you catch that? - I'm commanding you to smile while the world tortures you. You must literally have no thought for your own survival.
"I hope you were listening. Because if you were, you'd know that you will absolutely fail at what I'm asking of you. You will fall short almost every single hour of every day you are conscious, and with the kinds of standards I'm setting, you're probably going to break some of these laws in your dreams.
"What reasons could I have for this insanity? Won't this just put anyone who tries to follow me into a constant moral crisis? That can't be the point, can it?
"Because one of two things would happen:
"You might spend the rest of your life desperately trying to be good and cheerful at the same time, interrogating your motivations for everything, chasing your own thoughts, and never turning down a chance to help anyone you come across. You will destroy everything you've built up for yourself; you'll throw it all away, and it simply won't be enough, and the only thing that will keep you going is you just know that you can do more. You'll be exhausted and happy, because good cheer is part of your task. You'll have to forgive everyone, because that will be your only hope of survival. You will be utterly certain you aren't better than others. You won't care. You won't have time for any of that. And I'll have an army of you.
"Or you might just lawyer up. Argue. Quibble. You might convince yourself I didn't say what I just said. Someone will have a convenient vision about the crazy dietary stuff. Someone will go back to the old text and search for other loopholes. Every one of you will find a thousand ways to excuse yourselves and a thousand ways to convict others, to make the full weight of my commandments crush everyone without power, everyone you don't like, while you always find a way to wriggle free. While you always find a preacher who will help you. I see a guy with a spider tattoo on his face cooking barbecue at a church fundraiser on a Saturday, and in between mouthfuls of greasy abomination he's talking about how he and his third wife decided that the government needs to enforce Biblical family values. I see powerful clergy convincing you it's necessary to be mean-spirited and jealous and small, only they don't say it that way - they use words like love and compassion. I see a man on a golden throne praying for the souls of the poor while he takes their money. The history of your faith will be a long, sordid, pointless account of people using the burden of my words to bury each other alive.
"And if I mean this, if I really mean it, that's because I want it to be one or the other. I want victory or destruction. I want an end to any question about whether I exist and whether I own the world. Whether you even deserve a God, this earth, or your very lives. And I'm counting on you people, you ridiculous people, to make my case for me. Either you will flip the world inside out with love... or turn every church into an obscenity.
"Who says I don't play with dice?"