Monday, July 09, 2007

Would Jesus wear Gucci?

Mary Zeiss Stange asks "What would Luther do?" in her USA Today editorial. What an odd question to ask in the 21st century! The conjecture concerns acceptance of gay relationships by Protestant churches. While acknowledging Martin Luther's condemnation of "sodomites" she asks "
But would the man whose break from Roman Catholicism involved a revolutionary rethinking of the role of sexuality in human relationships take such a negative view of homosexuality today?" and answers "Most probably, given the way his theological mind worked, he would not."
Of course that's precisely to say that he would no longer be the Luther who wrote On the Jews and their Lies and who had a real appreciation for the light they cast when burned alive. That would not be the Luther who told us that the Devil was the God of the world or who ran about his bedroom in a frenzy; flinging his own feces at Satan. It wouldn't be Luther at all, in fact; it would be a ventriloquist's dummy mouthing modern sentiments to soothe the modern conscience.

Of course she's only following in the ancient tradition of sculpting a God who tells us what we want to hear and justifies our prejudices, actions and inactions. When Paul of Tarsus says "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female," would he today add "gay or straight" she asks? I'm almost as concerned to know what Jesus would do for lunch if he were a Pakistani convenience store owner in Festus, Missouri.

Is there any more bone-headed tendency of the human ape than to ask questions of long dead people who couldn't survive in our world about what they would do if they weren't themselves? Asking a bigoted, unwashed, superstitious religious zealot from the 16th century if he would retain his prejudices today is as absurd as it is unproductive. The question we need to ask of ourselves is why do we retain his prejudices?

4 comments:

Reign of Reason said...

Exactly...

The number of people in this country who pay homage to a book mostly written by a bunch of bronze-age barbarians who slaughtered their rivals in the middle east is astonishing.

And to think these same people actually believe these stories of carnage, rape and genocide are 'divinely inspired' only makes me wonder at the intelligence of the species.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

I'm reading The Power Of Myth by Joseph Campbell these days. In it, Campbell discusses each society's mythology and the need for it. He also explains how distorting and diasterous it is when one society attempts to follow the mythology of a different society in a different context in a different time.

He says that America's insistence on following Christianity, a mythology of 2,000 years ago, explains a great deal about why people do not find religion relevant today.

d nova said...

i'm willing 2 cut ol' marty a lil slack. livin w/ chronic constipation cdn't've been a picnic.

i guess today's myth is UFOs n ETs n area 51, &c.

wanna start a new one? how bout BWA, bloggas wit attitude?

o course it wd get mixed up w/ Backyard Wrestling Association, Baptist World Alliance, Broadband wireless access, n Botswana, but that's half the fun o mythmaking!

Capt. Fogg said...

Butt Wigglers Anonymous?

I think our species has a built in weakness for nutso beliefs, sort of like our propensity for addiction

I went on a Campbell binge years ago and read everything he wrote. One of the things I liked was the idea that the further back you go, the more bottomless the origins of myths seem to be. Go back far enough and you see how they relate to each other and have common ancestors.