Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jesus Fail

As one of the few Americans who still reads a print newspaper, I tend to pore through my Washington Post over a cup or three of coffee.  Much strikes me, but I'm particularly drawn to interesting faith-related niblets. 

Today, the moment of Jesus in the Post came in a conversation between two women.  They were both from Tennessee, members of the community where a man's house was allowed to burn to the ground because he'd forgotten to pony up his seventy-five bucks in fire-department service fees.  Their conversation went thusly:

Neighbors are torn over the incident.  Retired teacher Laura Davis rushed to see whether the Cranicks needed help but wants a world in which "people suffer the consequences" of their actions.  A friend challenged Davis to think about what Jesus would do.  "I don't know that he'd put it out," Davis said.  "I don't know what he'd do."
One could always assume that Ms. Davis isn't Christian, but then again, it is Tennessee.  It's deep Bible Belt, and pretty much ain't nobody not Christian in them parts.  Or nominally Christian, anyway. 

Here, we have evidence that Christian ignorance of the core teachings of Jesus goes rather deeper than flailing on the recent Pew survey.  Not knowing about key figures in the Reformation or the philosophical underpinnings of Catholicism is one thing.  But honeychild, if you can't figure this one out, you've failed as a Christian.


Because when Jesus was asked where the rubber meets the road when it comes to following him, he pitched out this little story.   Perhaps you've heard of it.  It's about this guy who chooses to care for an Israelite who foolishly walked a road alone and got himself in a mess of hurt.  It's terribly obscure, of course.  But it is, nonetheless, something that speaks to the heart of what Jesus taught.  If you see someone suffering, you help 'em.  It's a fundamental duty of every human being, one that Jesus couldn't possibly have made any clearer.

But it's probably not what she's been taught.  Many churches in Tea Party country, I'm sure they don't really preach about it at all.    Not very "pull yerself up by yer bootstraps."  It's so off message.