Monday, November 16, 2009

The Beatitudes

I'm currently reading _God is Not Great_ by Christopher Hitchens. It's biased against all theists, but is an accurate historical account of nasty things done in the name of religion. One thing isn't mentioned in the entire 300 pages, the very thing that the majority of Christian organizations ignore, and what Jesus of the book of Matthew taught to the masses: THE BEATITUDES. I suppose Hitchens can be forgiven for excluding them because the very organizations he bemoans tend to forget that they exist as well.

The Beatitudes are only mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew (5:3). Jesus proclaimed them to the masses of Galilee while healing the sick and all that good stuff. According to my copy of the Bible, the "New International Version" originally published in 1973, they are thus:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

When you read these, it makes sense that most Christian organizations ignore that they won't have to follow them. I'm talking about Westboro Baptist Church, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Jerry Fallwell, all the Catholic churches that passed out a SECOND collection basket to fund anti-gay marriage commercials, etc.

Obviously, queer people aren't the only mourners, the only people hungry for righteousness and the only ones persecuted. I'd like to say that all queer people are merciful peacemakers who are pure of heart, but that's not the case of any group of people. And we shouldn't have to wait for the pie in the sky when we die. In general, the people who need the Beatitudes the most are those who experience them the least.

Is it really too much to ask for people to actually pay attention to the words allegedly spoken by the person they worship? I don't care what people personally and privately believe and I respect and admire people who practice what they preach (compassion), but it is loathsome to proclaim your faith in something against which you viciously act.

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