Saturday, June 21, 2008

Seriously. What Would Jesus Do?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on Solstice weekend! These long days mark the time when we settle in to watch our gardens ripen, to see if the seeds we've sown will actually sprout up and bear fruit.

(Puck the Faerie likes Midsummer Night. He says we should watch for our seats to bare Fruit Loops.)

Lately I've been reminded once again of the vast chasm between the humble carpenter who preached from a fishing boat way back in the day, and the people who call themselves his disciples in these times.

Last night Mr. Johnson came home just as I was about to toddle off to bed. I agreed to sit up with him just for a few minutes. And in that time he clicked through the channels to Fox News.

On Fox News, a very young, very blonde woman was aggressively challenging a wildlife conservationist about oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She was harsh and relentless -- we need to find every drop of crude oil available in America in order to fuel our automobiles. Too bad if it's under a wildlife refuge. The farmer in Nebraska needs his gas to get into town. He can't move to a big city and take the El.

What caught my attention was not the combative nature of the woman's questioning, but rather the large golden cross on her neck. She was wearing the Big Christian Symbol, large enough and gold enough that no one was going to miss it.

I had to ask myself, "What would Jesus do about drilling for oil in a wildlife refuge?"

Know what? There's just no answer to that. I defy you to provide an answer to that question. How Jesus felt about international consumption of crude oil, or even olive oil for that matter, is not recorded.

This second example of WWJD might be open for debate. I'll leave it up to you.

My fundie sis and her husband made a rare trip to Chateau Johnson in order to attend The Heir's high school graduation and The Spare's middle school graduation. Sis has no children of her own, but within the past year she adopted a rescue dog with a sad past. She brought the dog with her. (They stayed in a hotel.)

Sis and her husband recently moved into a $400,000 McMansion. It's near their church. They share the roomy structure with ... their dog.

We all had to go to the shopping mall to get a pair of shoes for The Spare. When we got home, The Spare told me she saw Sis leaving little notes with smiley faces on them that said "Smile! Jesus loves you!" here and there in the mall.

Sis wanted to know if there was a pet boutique in the area. There's one. We went to it. Sis purchased a pink and black satin tutu for her dog. The mutt needs little else -- it has collapsible water and food bowls, a duffel bag decorated with embroidered dog bones for its trips, and several leashes, depending upon how far a walk is planned.

On the walk back from the high school after The Spare's graduation, Sis bemoaned the fact that she will never have any children, that during her reproductive years she was actually suffering from an undiagnosed disorder that kept her from conceiving. (The birth control pills didn't help either, but Sis must have forgotten about them.)

Since she'd made a snide remark about how I should have used my wand to stop the rain, I made bold to observe that many Christian adoption services existed for all those pregnant teenagers out there who wanted to avoid abortions. I also recollected hearing about adoptions or fostering of older children as well.

This subtle hint was either lost on its audience or ignored out of politeness.

When we returned to Chateau Johnson after an absence of two hours, Sis made over her dog lavishly for more than ten minutes straight. The Heir and The Spare watched this display in utter disbelief. We have pets here, and we love them, but they're just part of the landscape and certainly not the center thereof.

So I ask myself again, "What would Jesus think of this woman, my sister, who tithes faithfully to her church, who leaves little smiley faces in the mall, and whose disposable income and affection go primarily to a pet?"

After Sis left, I asked Mr. Johnson a question, and now I'm asking you. (Maybe I'm querying the wrong audience, but I'm not going to pose this one to Dobson, sorry.)

Is there any mention of dogs in the Bible? The culture from which it sprung depended upon sheep and fish and wheat for sustenance. But I can't recall a single citation about dogs in the whole book. Cats either. Now you know they must have had both. They would have needed the dogs to help with the sheep, and the cats to keep the mice out of the grain.

Why didn't Jesus tell us how to treat our dogs and cats? Heck, there are legions of bored deities out there who are dedicated completely to domestic animals.

Lots of people claim to talk to Jesus one-on-one. If there's anyone reading this who does that, will you please ask Jesus:

* His stance on drilling for crude oil on the Continental Shelf and in the ANWR, and...

*How we should treat our dogs.

Thank you for helping me understand these thorny theological issues.

And for those of you who follow other religious paths, happy Solstice! May all that you plant be a worthy tribute to the deity of your choice!


yellowdog granny said...

I want to get a tshirt that says :
"what would the Goddess do?"....
on the drilling for oil measure I think the Goddess would tell them to get off their fat asses and walk or ride a bicycle..and sorry to say there probably is a very good reason why your sis can't have kids...the Goddess knows..

Nettle said...

"As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." - Proverbs 26:11. I had to look up the reference, but I remembered the proverb. First thing I thought of for dogs in the Bible. I also seem to remember that Jezebel was eaten by dogs.

Ooh, and let's not forget Matthew 7:6: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."

Because this is kind of fun, Google gives me Revelation 22:14: "For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." (it's the Kingdom of God from which these dogs are being excluded.)

I don't understand the oil-drilling logic. You would think that the people calling for it would understand that we do not have a nationalized oil company and so regardless of where the oil is found, it's not "America's oil." It's the oil company's oil, and they aren't going to be selling it to us at a special American Discount. Or am I missing something here?

Davo said...

Dunno much about dogs in the book written by blokes of ancient and limited knowledge, but apparently there's a reference to children, somewhere. The first word is a bit dubious to interpret but "suffer the children to come unto me"?

Plenty of suffering children in Sudan, Ethiopia, Burma, et al, who need a bit of assistance or good homes (any dwelling at all, would help).. but perhaps the "christians" don't consider them part of "humanity", i guess.

Big Tex said...

"On Fox News, a very young, very blonde woman..." How many sentences have I heard that started out this way, only to lead to something that makes my blood boil? Something like half of Fox News's anchors are ditzy bottle blondes. Maybe that's part of the problem...

I think that dogs are mentioned in the Book of Armaments, if I'm not mistaken. As far as what Jesus would have done re: offshore drilling and drilling in ANWR, my guess is he would have walked everywhere he went, and told them to just leave the oil where it lays. And that's when the fine folks at Faux News would have been calling him a dirty hippie and a tree hugger.

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

I'm definitely no expert on the whole WWJD phenom myself, as you know, Anne. But I do seem to recall some little thing about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kindom of Heaven.

Just sayin'. Oil companies are probably not on St. Peter's invitation list. I think.

There are Christians who not only are interested in trying to walk their talk, but who would rather walk than burn oil. For a couple of great examples of Christian environmentalists, who at least say that their environmentalism is part of their spiritual leadings, check out the writings and work of Quakers Marshall Massey and Carl Magruder. (I'm not trying to imply that Quakers are the only cool, earth-loving Christians out there--they're just the only Christians I personally hang out with on a regular basis.

THE Michael said...

Look, we all know that if Jesus was back, he'd have fired Rush Limbaugh from his show and taken over, would be a die-hard Republican, and would be urging all us good God-fearing Americans to run bomb Iran.


Isn't it a pity all those Christians are FEARING their god? He must be one mean SOB.........

Anonymous said...

Ieshua, where he still about would be all about turning the oil into something fresh water...or Slivovitz.

As to dogs and cats in the Bible? Cats at that time (new Testament) were only domesticated in Egypt as far as I know/remember from my history classes, and it was a high crime to export them, death sentence; a nasty one atthat...shepherds in the Mid East around that era didn't use herd dogs...that was developed in other areas. Those shepherds used their children. Dogs were used for both hunting and guarding, but not actual shepherding...


Chas S. Clifton said...

Back when I was teaching a religious studies class to undergrads, I used to compare the ancient world's dependence on slavery to our dependence on petroleum.

And Jesus, you'll recall, never said a recorded word about slavery, pro or con. Paul, the explainer, seemed to accept it, as you will see if you review the Epistle to Philemon.

So I doubt if the radical rabbi would take a position on ANWR, except as it affected people's spiritual health-as-he-saw-it.

Pom said...

A friend asked me to leave you the following comment as she has a glitch with her account:

"This phenom came as I was passing out...literally out of Christianity. I believe it was created to encourage people to "think" before they act...."thinking" specifically about what their beloved teacher might tell them to do in any and all situations.

I think it eventually became a copout (as we old folks used to say)when things didn't work know, I asked Jesus and I thought He said to roll myself up in a big ball and die. Couldn't do that so I chose to do something else, guess it wasn't exactly what Jesus would do but it seemed better than what I got in the first place.

Anyway, people other than the Egyptians didn't really keep pets so I doubt if Jesus would have anything to say about them even to the woman who told him that "the dogs get the scraps from the table". Tho I think he told her to crawl under the table and get the damn scraps then but I'm not's been a few years.

Oil? Hypocrites, Vipers and Snakes, O MY! He couldn't care less but he might have a few choice words for the Oil barons who steal from the poor to give to the rich! Probably would remind him of the guys selling animals for sacrifice in the temple at a much higher rate bilking the temple goers because they could! He whipped those guys...WWJD? Anybody got a whip?

So, for those who ask WWJD...just remember, he helped the poor and downtrodden, healed the sick and walked on water. Most people can do the first two, doctors can do the third but I have yet to find anyone who can walk on water (other than a few of those doctors, who obviously thought they could--but where are they now?)!"