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Wed Apr 25, 2012, 10:52 AM

The Weight

The Weight
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Tuesday 25 April 2012

I pulled into Nazareth,
Feelin' 'bout half-past dead,
Just need to find a place,
Where I can lay my head.
"Mister, can you tell me
Where a man might find a bed?"
He just grinned and shook my hand,
"No," was all he said...

- The Band


It is brutally hard to be a Christian in America these days.

Yeah, I said it. It's true.

I'm a Christian. I was born and baptized, and then given First Confession and First Communion wearing my little white suit with the little gold buckles on my little white shoes. I learned the Bible at my grandmother's knee - her way of teaching me to read - and went out into the world thinking do-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-you and that-which-you-do-to-the-least-of-my-brothers-you-do-unto-me was the proper way of things.

In Bible study, I remember being impressed by a specific command from Jesus from Matthew 6:5-6. Not a request, not a suggestion, not a hint, but a flat-out command: "Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you."

And my Father, who sees in secret, will reward me. Well, thanks a lot, Dad, for rewarding me with this hideous, necrotic 21st century version of Christianity...you know, the version that has little if anything to do with what You tried to tell us in those four friendly books at the beginning of the New Testament. Do Unto Others has been replaced with Do Others In The Throat, and as far as prayer in secret so as not to be a hypocrite, well...have You seen CNN and Fox lately? They're praying all over the place, all the time, around the clock...but for war, death, punishment, and the castigation and flagellation of anyone who dares to, as You said in John 13:34, "Love one another, as I have loved you."

Yup, I'm talking about the "hommasexchulls" among us, the ones deprived of The Light Of American Jesus because of their sinful, sodomic ways. I can quote Exodus and Leviticus at you until your eyes bleed, two books that are wildly popular with this country's curious breed of Jesus-shouter...except Jesus came along to make sure four new books got written, right? The ones with all the loving lessons I learned at my grandmother's knee, right?

Those were the stories I was raised with. Maybe I missed a chapter.

Long-time Truthout readers know that I am a survivor of bullying. Well, it turns out that some of the stars of modern American Christianity have gathered their forces to blunt any state or local push to stop bullying in schools. Some of these festering, pestiferous frauds have even gone so far as to craft a prayer to God, so that He will intercede on their behalf to thwart laws that would keep LGBTQI kids from being harried to such an extreme degree that they commit suicide rather than face another day in the warm bath of American Christianity. Those kids kill themselves all the time nowadays, thanks to the endless and barbaric harassment they endure from Christians...just as Jesus intended?

Um...

The prayer:

May God help us to not to "bully" anyone, but to graciously yet urgently speak the truth in love to young people who are hurting themselves with the "LGBT" lifestyle. May believers across America not be "bullied" by our government's efforts to promote harmful and sinful sexual practices among our youth and instead determine to stand courageously against these misguided efforts which can only lead to God's judgment!


My favorite part of that is the way they put "bully" in quotation marks, as if crucifying Matthew Shepard on a fence in Wyoming was only kinda-sorta "bullying," instead of flat-out assault and murder. According to those who crafted that abomination of a prayer, Shepard's killers were just American Christians attempting to save a soul...oh, and the exclamation point after "God's judgment" at the end of that so-called prayer is just a nudge in the...um...proper direction. Direction? I should have said Way.

It is brutally hard to be a Christian in America these days. Some of us Christians take that bit about doing unto the least of us deeply, deeply seriously. Some of us Christians think that it is wrong, sinful, and in fact a brazen form of Apartheid to deny certain Americans the rights enjoyed by other Americans based upon who they love. Mostly, some of us think Christianity in America has gone barking-mad insane.

I am a Christian. I make no apologies for it. I'm not sure if I believe that Jesus turned that water into wine, or if He raised up Lazarus, or even if He rose from the dead. That all sounds like a lot of magic nonsense from two thousand years ago when you think about it, which is why they call it The Mystery of Faith.

But I believe that I am my brother's keeper, that I should worship without bragging about it, that the poor will God-damned-right inherit the Earth, and that what you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me. I believe that the first four books of the New Testament are a wonderful blueprint for being a decent person on this planet, and that's what I live by, as best I can.

I am an American Christian, and it is a burden to bear.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to drink some new wine, hang out with a familiar whore, and listen to the dead.

Amen.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8711-the-weight

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:02 AM

1. k&r You have a way with words Mr. Pitt! Good message & write-up!

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:06 AM

2. I've always wondered why nobody asks Tim Tebow if he's ever read

Matthew 6. Good writing as usual, William.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:08 AM

3. Really cool song. Gonna bump this thread with this rarity: Supremes + Temptations "the Weight"

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:13 AM

4. I do believe the irony of a crucified young man named Shepherd is lost on those who

believe he got what he deserved.

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Response to myrna minx (Reply #4)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:15 AM

5. Ouch.

Why didn't I think of that.

Ugh.

Good one, myrna. Searing, but good.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:16 AM

6. So very well written.. Thanks.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:19 AM

7. I know all about Christian Bullies very well since they bullied me in school

I was some sort of demon worshipping whore because I listened to Led Zeppelin - I kid you not.

Somehow I managed to survive high school and thank goodness I did because life really did get better.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:32 AM

8. Wasn't it meek?

Who will inherit the earth? I seem to remember that in between being told that someone in here "ain't praying earnest enough" because the child with CP wasn't up and walkin yet.

Take a load off Annie...

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:39 AM

9. In an important way, Christians may be "the least of these" spiritually, so let's, in the spirit of

Mathew 19:24 "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God", pray for them the way that they pray "for" LGBTQ persons:

May God help us to not to seize economic justice from anyone, but to graciously yet urgently speak the truth in love to young people who are hurting themselves with the crass consumerist lifestyles. May believers across America not be too affected by our government's efforts to promote harmful and sinful corporate welfare and consumerism among our youth and instead determine to stand courageously against these misguided efforts which can only lead to God's judgment!

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:40 AM

10. Americanized Christianity is pretty wild.

A golden calf on Wall St, Bible verse engraved on sniper lenses and bearing false witness an acceptable business model.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 12:47 PM

11. The irony of the bullied

is that you can almost always find someone lower down the food chain to bully in turn. I was somewhere near the lower end of the bullying curve--but I made it my business to bully a girl even more misfit than I. I am ashamed to admit this, thirty years on.

One day she confronted her tormentors--not me, specifically, because I only bullied her sporadically (some corner of my deranged teenage brain knew this to be wrong), but the biggest, the ugliest, the meanest kids in school.

She raised her misfit little fist, picked up her yet-again broken eyeglasses, and said, "I'm gonna make you all sorry some day."

I was present for that declaration, and it rocked me back on my heels. Yeah, this little girl (she was little, and fiercely smart) would, as an adult, probably be capable of splitting atoms, or cloning dragons, or raining down some plague on the world as payback for her torture.

I got it. I tried to be nice to her after that, but it was too late. She trusted no one, and I don't blame her for that.

I hope she has become a strong, healthy adult, and wherever she is, I would like her to know that I am sorry.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 01:16 PM

12. accidental dupe

Last edited Wed Apr 25, 2012, 02:07 PM - Edit history (1)

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 01:38 PM

13. I'm reading Barbara Tuchman's 'Myth Of Folly', which takes a look at the Church in the late 1400's.

So very similar to these days. The Popes were armed and bloodthirsty, obsessed with personal wealth and sexuality.

The worst was a Borgia, who held orgies with hundreds of courtesans, the guests competing to see who could couple with the highest number. He watched his son murder a courtyard full of petty criminals from a balcony, while he and his much-younger girlfriend clapped with approval and glee at the fountains of blood.

Same as it ever was, Will. The best ideas of Christianity seem to practiced mostly by irreligious hippies; the worst human impulses seem to rule the established, organized church.

The current pope is a great example. Utterly tone-deaf, highly political, obsessed with his authority -- and seemingly insistent that young boys keep quiet and submit to God's diddling.

I think I'll stay over here in Agnosticville.

Great write, as always, man.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 02:03 PM

14. K&R I can relate to everything you wrote, WilliamPitt.

It's not just in the Gospels, the prophets are all about the same theme. (At the end of the Old Testament, from Isaiah to Malachi.) If they're actually read instead of picked at, it's everywhere. There isn't any cutthroat bs that's being done today, that isn't in there in the prophets. It was foretold, and then happened, in the time of the prophets; and it was foretold to happen again now, and is re-happening again. There are so many references in the prophets, somebody really should make a book out of them. But here are three, just from Isaiah...


And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. (Isaiah 59:14) KJV

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10:1, 2) NKJV

For he (King of Assyria) says: "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent; also I have removed the boundaries of the people, and have robbed their treasuries; So I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. My hand has found like a nest the riches of the people, and as one gathers eggs that are left, I have gathered all the earth; and there was no one who moved his wing, nor opened his mouth with even a peep." (Isaiah 10:13, 14) NKJV



There is truly "nothing new under the sun". "Truth is fallen in the street", that's a very powerful phrase (it reminds me of a murder, like the Kitty Genovese one) and it's so true today. And "boundaries", i.e regulations? It goes to show that this isn't the first time these same practices were done, and by the same described perpetrators. (Btw, "Assyrian" does not mean from anywhere in the Middle East, it isn't as facile as that.)

Today's church: it was described pretty accurately too, considering the writing was thousands of years ago - almost as if it was known that it would be this way ahead of time, huh? (The description in Revelation 17 and 18, with references back to the prophets once again.)

There's a lot of interesting stuff in the Bible if one learns how to read it - and that isn't an easy process, and it has to be mostly "self-taught" imo. This is a great tool, among others... http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Isa&c=10&v=1&t=KJV#1 Click on the little numbers ("Strong's" numbers) and it shows the original language meaning of words - that in itself can be eye-opener.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 02:16 PM

15. Well put Will. I spent many years in evangelical churches,

and I don't recall ever hearing a sermon on Matthew 6:5-6. Bad for business. Probably wouldn't have had too many chairs filled the following Sunday.

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Response to bluesbassman (Reply #15)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 02:22 PM

16. I think you get a special dispensation from Matthew 6:5-6

for showing up to church.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 04:03 PM

17. Up

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 09:40 PM

18. One last

Up...

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 01:50 AM

19. k & R

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