Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Do we know it’s Christmas… Over here? Tom Rossi

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ (ostensibly) in this Christian-dominated (politically, anyway) country, it might be a good time to take a brief look at what we claim to believe in.

We believe in the Bible, and we believe in personal wealth. We profess our love for Jesus, and we vote Republican or Republican-light (Democrat). We recite the ten commandments, and our national pastime is coveting.

In his thought-provoking book, “Celebration of Discipline: the Path to Spiritual Growth,” Richard Foster wrote that there is, “… a prevailing notion that the Bible is ambiguous about economic issues.” He goes on to say, “No serious reading of scripture can substantiate such a view. The biblical injunctions against the exploitation of the poor and the accumulation of wealth are clear and straightforward.” Foster proceeds to pose several examples with scriptures referenced.

So how is it that the party of riches is also the party (supposedly) of Christianity? How is it that people think they’re voting for God when they vote republican? Aren’t they actually voting against God, Jesus, and what it actually says in the Bible?

I have to be honest. Even though I have studied many things and was raised in the Catholic church, I’m quite an agnostic. My dad named me after Saint Thomas Aquinas but I take after “doubting” Thomas much more. I question everything. My religion is reason and what offends me is intellectual dishonesty or hypocrisy.

But after studying the words of Christ a little bit as an adult, I realize that I’m the one who actually believes in what he taught, while it seems that 90% of the people who call themselves “Christians” really worship some manufactured image that better suits their ideologies and goals.

People hide behind religion to justify voting for selfishness, for maintaining the imbalances inherit in the present system. They vote to keep the “privileged few” privileged, because they are either now members of that club or psychotically hold onto the belief that they will be, one day.

When Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24), he was talking about money and God. It’s pretty clear that he meant that the pursuit of money would certainly take one’s mind and efforts from God and the way of life that Jesus advocated. How did it come to be that so many of the very representatives of Christianity are multi-millionaires? And I won’t even get started on the “Christian” politicians.

Much is written, every year now, about how Christmas has become so commercial. That’s not it. We worship money every day of the year and that worship is enshrined as our one true national religion. We duly elect the perfect representatives… those who epitomize “money-ism” of one form or another. Christmas is just the culminating orgy of what goes on all year long.

What would I change? Plenty. But let’s start with the elimination of hypocrisy. This Christmas (or Chanukah or Kwanzaa or whatever else you might celebrate), look at yourself honestly in the mirror and admit what’s important to you. Maybe it’s money. OK, nothing wrong with that. Just admit it. When I look in the mirror I see Lorne Greene, a martian, and sometimes Martha Stewart. I’ve really gotta stop drinking so much.

What I want for Christmas this year is for everyone to open their eyes and see that their leaders are mostly just trying to get even richer. Then to realize that claims those leaders make about how to be a better Christian are mostly lies. People vote based on these lies. That makes them dangerous.

But forget about politics for now. Spend your vacation with family, friends, or your favorite snow-capped mountain or evergreen forest. Let yourself step off of the rat-racetrack for a few days, and have a happy holiday season. We’ll talk politics when you get back.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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