Presenting oneself as a Christian at this time of the year or any other, is easy. Following the words of Jesus of Nazareth can be quite another thing. Mistakenly, many Americans like to think of the U.S. as being a Christian nation. That does not reconcile with the words of Jesus. Read what Jesus is quoted as saying in the Bible, in this imporant sermon. Does it reconcile with the capitalistic, militaristic United States of America? Be honest. If you are a Christian and read what is below, you know we can do much, much better. [the very words of Jesus as quoted in..."The New Testament in Modern English" translated by Bible scholar J.B. Phillips, LUKE, chapter 6, beginning with verse 20]:
What sells in the world's most capitalistic nation, the USA, are health care, pharmaceuticals, and whatever can be bought in Washington D.C. and state capitols. But here is what REALLY sells: violence. This is where the real money to buy politicians and propagandize voters comes from. This is where we have been sold the idea that manhood and toughness derive from bullying our way to being successful in the world. America sells violence, and spending on the military-industrial corporations and prisons are the real mother lode. This is where most of your tax money goes, and everything else gets immediate criticism when tax money is involved. We are happy campers to spend it on weaponry, military personnel, and locking people up for as long as possible.
President Barack Obama called Reinhold Niebuhr his "favorite philosopher" and "favorite theologian." Obama's Nobel speech in Oslo was full of Niebuhr's perspective. Most of us know of the influences of people like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi on Obama, but Niebuhr's impact on the President's thought process is more profound. Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John McCain in his book "Hard Call," celebrated Niebuhr as a paragon of clarity about the costs of a good war.
It is difficult to admit that the U.S. is a nation in which prejudice and bigotry hold sway far too often. It is even more difficult to admit to ourselves how much prejudice we each harbor. It is easy to pass off some overgeneralization about a group of people that we have, and feel secure in having ample reason to hold onto that belief. Some bigotry is obvious, some is not. It is the latter that is more dangerous to our democratic society. But both kinds parade themselves far too often.
We Americans are very good at lying to ourselves, being in denial, and assuming the entire world wants what we have. In our dreamland world we never see ourselves as brutes or bulls-in-a-china-shop. Here are some of the things we lie to ourselves about or are in denial about...