Recently I saw the meme below posted online by a strictly “science, logic and reason” minded atheist who denies God. That very act is a self-contradiction in reality, as I’ll explain below, but first…
The meme refers to one of my most personally cherished events in the Bible, and gives me a chance to pop two bubbles of misconception in one sitting. Here we go. Let’s rock.
To what does this refer? Clearly the following from John 2: 14-16 (NIV text).
In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
Jesus the Warrior
Maybe I shouldn’t have laughed a little when I saw that, because in a strict sense the meme is heretical in its blatantly flawed portrayal of Jesus. How? It’s grossly misleading and unrepresentative of the meaning of that event. Nonetheless, I did chuckle, because it’s also so obviously agenda-driven through the prism of leftist, anti-capitalist zeal common to both the “angry atheists” and the so-called “Christian left”. Respondents talking about Goldman Sachs and Bank of America give that agenda away.
The money-changers event is one that a lot of my fellow Christians, mainly (but not always) politically liberal, don’t want to face as they fit their personal Jesus-toon into this comfortable little stereotyped box of pure peace, gentleness and Utopian smiles everywhere.
[Turn your eyes away, peaceniks, you won't want to read what's next.]
Jesus got pissed off and unleashed his righteous rage at those who would desecrate his Father’s place by using it as El Mercado Grande. He wielded a whip, hurled over tables, rampaged through the place, ran people off! The Prince of Peace himself had enough of a temple’s doubling as a bazaar, and His anger reached the most intense, acute and–yes–violent way documented in all of Gospel. Yes, by all available accounts Jesus wielded a whip, smashed stuff up, scared off the dealers and their customers, and got (for Him on Earth) quite destructive.
As a child, I had been taught the sanitized, ultimately overgeneralized and deceptively portrayed Jesus-toon: all peace and love, all the time…but never was offered this story. Yet when I finally found it, by reading the Bible for myself (following an escape from the clutches of atheism), it gave me all the more respect and admiration for Him, because it was crystal-clear that Jesus knew when to kick some ass. Yes, I said it: kick some ass. And He is going to do it again, per Revelation 19:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS
Wow. Wages war! It seems the enraged Jesus of the money-changer incident was just a teaser for what is to come. Yet I suspect that will send the secular and Christian “hold hands and sing Kumbaya” crowd into a jittery blather. Jesus, kicking ass and waging war. “Inconceivable!” Really? Well, either you buy in to the scriptures or you don’t. And if you do, please, accept these truths about Jesus’ tough love. You will not only get over the misgivings about such verses, but accept them as part of the whole of who He is and how He must do things to fix this screwed-up world. Tough love, brother.
Peace? You bet. That’s the ultimate destination. War on the way there? Well, truthfully, yes. As for me, I’m all in for both Jesus’ peace and war. I’ve been known to relish a good fight, and what more worthy and justified one than against evil (Satan)?
Anti-Capitalism, Bible as Weapon
Now back to the meme, this time as it relates to “bankers”: where and why did the money-changer incident happen?
Here’s the scoop: When the bankers are doing their deals IN A TEMPLE (and that’s the non-subtle aspect here that seems to be missing), then yes, the meme has a point. That’s because then, and only then, is the angle in the meme like the real “money changers” story–setting up a secular marketplace in a house of holy worship. Again, so the setting is clear: in a temple. Not in capitalist America–in a temple. That’s why the verse says, “in a temple”. Clear on that?
Otherwise, the meme just offers more of the same over-generalizations and misrepresentations by those (religious or secular) ignorant of the Bible, yet ravenously zealous to make a point of it. What point? That bankers are universally evil and deserving of flogging? OK, let’s set aside the fact that bankers (outside a house of worship) perform a necessary function in any monetized society. Say that meme’s premise is true, just for argument’s sake. Even then, who is in position to step up and flog (or cast stones at) your nearest banker? Who among you doesn’t use a bank, and never has?
We know greed is bad, whether by bankers or any of us. All other vices are bad too, by definition. All of humanity is corrupted by evil. Otherwise some of us would be perfect and have never done anything wrong. Yet we’re not. Anybody now claiming to be sinless is a baldfaced liar. We’re all deserving of worse than flogging just for what we’ve done wrong and gotten away with that nobody has noticed, much less the bad deeds we’ve been caught doing.
Yet the figure depicted rather poorly in that meme voluntarily took the punishment for us, for all of it. That’s the bigger picture. It’s a gruesome, horrible, astounding, necessary, loving, unfathomably benevolent, eternally transformational picture. At least it is for those who are willing to throw aside the disdain-colored glasses, and see that picture. If you don’t want to see the picture, that’s your call–but it’s no call to harass and incite hatred against those who can.
Yet Another “Angry Atheist” Self-Contradiction
Ahh, but wait a minute, for the atheists who post the above meme, Jesus is “fiction”. It supposedly never happened at all, in which case the entire meme is pointless and a waste of the time. Hmm…you just posted something you claim is a total lie as support for something you want to make the truth. Impressive. Oh, and you claim to support tolerance of others while advocating flogging of bankers. Uhh, sure. Which way is it, true or false? Wait a minute, everything’s a shade of gray, and there are no absolutes (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Got any other conundrums and self-contradictions to offer today?
Ahh, never mind…everybody wants to have their cake and eat it too. Use the biblical “fiction” when it’s convenient for twisting things around to suit an agenda, yet discredit it otherwise. Isn’t that sort of selectivity rather unbecoming of those who bow at the altar of “science, logic and reason”? Talk about cognitive dissonance! [There's another favorite, hackneyed, intellectually duplicitous, anti-theist buzz-phrase.]
Atheist jihadists love to point out every instance they can find of Christians “cherry-picking” Bible verses, and of course that does really happen to some extent. But when the atheists cherry pick, it’s okay. It’s to mock Christians, and of course that’s somehow justifiable from the hallowed lectern of self-manufactured intellectual superiority that is secular humanism.
Phooey on that. What an angst-ridden, miserable world to occupy. I’d rather worship my “skydaddy” out in His light, and wear that “god-idiot” label of derision as a badge of honor, than live in the swirling orb of resentment, cynicism and hate that is “angry atheism”. It’s a very, very dark place in there. I only peek inside on selective occasion because (as a former atheist) I know the way out and have something bigger than all of us watching my back the whole time.
Those caught up fully in that dark orb of misbelief are not hated by me, and are welcome to step out at any time. I’ll extend that hand, won’t call you to the front of the church, won’t condemn you to hell…instead I’ll celebrate your new-found freedom. But for those who choose to stay enslaved to “science, logic and reason” as the only possible valid means of thinking, well…it’s your decision and I won’t be the ultimate arbiter of whatever happens in the end anyway.
By now I can hear the “Jesus is fiction” crowd snarling and barking furiously on the other side of that fence, foaming Dobermans making lots of noise while saying nothing and going nowhere, as usual. I’m actually saddened a bit right now at the pathetic inanity of it all, and feeling more than a little sorry for those caught up in it. There’s so much more out here than in there, I promise. And it’s eternally hopeful…
– Your friendly neighborhood “god-idiot” (and quite glad of it)
Socioeconomically, a populist mantra mosh-pitting across the frenzied crowds of left-wing media is so-called “income inequality”–as if there’s something inherently wrong or immoral about that, as if everybody should have the same income regardless of talent, ability, motivation, experience, skill or value of work. Ridiculous!
“Income inequality” is a problem if John and Jane are doing the very same work at demonstrably indistinct quantity and quality, with comparable experience and seniority, and Jane is making substantially greater or less money. That’s a rare situation. It’s really a huge problem if one is consistently doing more and better work than the other, yet earning fewer sixpence. That’s uncommon but not rare, and cause for a legitimate gender discrimination complaint by Jane or John–whomever is on the raw side of that deal.
However, barring such unusual situations, we are not equal. If we were, we literally would be clones. We’re not, so we’re not, and that’s that. No matter how much I train, how hard I try, I simply cannot sprint like Usain Bolt. He cannot predict and research violent storms like I can, at least not anytime soon. That’s just the truth. The truth is hard for some to accept, under the Utopian delusion that the “rich” (whatever that means…seems to change by the minute and from person to person) should make less, and the “poor” (ditto the last parenthetical) should be paid more.
Okay, let’s grab that dubious premise and run with it for the sake of argument. How much less for the “rich”? How much more for “the poor”? More importantly for each: in what way, decided by whom, and based on what standard that’s free from any vagueness?
What is the single, objective, consistent, reproducible definition of “rich” and “poor”? Who has the authority to decide that, and on what basis? What is the single, objective, consistent, reproducible definition of “enough” for how much more the “poor” should earn, and how much less the “rich” should keep? Who has the authority to decide that, and on what basis?
The answer to the last four questions is the same: there is none. As such, trying to force a round notion of equality into the square hole of unavoidable, interpersonal inequality is doomed to failure. Demolished morale, disincentive, subterfuge, corruption, and even ugly revolt, are natural consequences. Human nature dictates that.
The opposite of “income inequality”–income equality–taken to its logical and literal end, would pay everybody the same regardless of type, amount, extent, quality or difficulty of work performed. That idea is not only unacceptable and ludicrous in a market-based, capitalist democracy, but simply batshit crazy! What’s the incentive for a doctor to bust his tail for years in pre-med, med school, internship and the debt and insane hours that go therewith, if he can make “equal” salary dispensing Frosties at Wendy’s?
Strict equality can be patently unfair, undesirable, and even damaging. Anyone who has been a parent–in particular, tried their best to be a good one–knows exactly what I mean. My kids are different as night and day in many respects. Their personalities, motivations, responses to stimuli, and overall psychological makeups are worlds apart. I love them both just as much, but to treat them equally is to invite utter disaster. In order to raise those kids in a fair manner, they could not, must not, have been treated alike (equally) most of the time. And I told them, for example, “David, I don’t treat you the same as Donna because you are not the same kid. You are not clones, therefore, you will be treated individually.”
Yet I was the same dad with the same basic rules of conduct, right and wrong, for each. I’m not equal in every little application but I strive to be consistent and fair as a whole and equal in respect and love. As such, I can avoid hypocrisy while still treating people differently. The key isn’t in the playcalling, whose goal is always and consistently touchdowns, but instead in the execution of the play. One can score touchdowns (or commit fumbles) on all sorts of plays!
The same ideal applies professionally too. Say I have a nasty sunburn under my shirt and Jim-Bob Johannsen, my collaborator on the same project, doesn’t. We both get our work done excellently, we win the contract and the Big Bossman likes it a whole lot. Big Bossman slaps Jim-Bob on the back and says, “Great job, Jim-Bob.” No problem there. Jim-Bob feels like a superstar, and deservedly so, at least for a little bit. Then Big Bossman tries to treat me exactly the same. I’m screaming in pain before he ever gets to the verbal accolades! Equal treatment, equal reward, different result. In fact, for fictional me, it was an excruciating outcome, which illustrates three points:
- I should have worn SPF-45 while push-mowing that acre of lawn shirtless yesterday,
- Good intentions still can do lots of damage,
- The main one here, that equal does not mean fair!
For simplicity of argument I used a physical example of the fallacy of equality; but in other professional aspects I could cite dozens, maybe hundreds more, if this space and your time would allow. Alas, neither will, because you’re reading a BLOG instead of some trendy, 200-page “leadership” tome for which you forked over $29.99 to some smooth-talking suit-and-tie on the corporate motivational circuit.
When deliberating “equality” of anything (income, tax burden, social responsibilities, rights, you name it) we instead should be deliberating fairness instead. This is because people are not clones. Preferably, such dialog will include clear, consistent, reproducible, justifiable, written standards for what constitutes “fair” instead of merely somebody’s pulled-out-of-rectum opinion.
Ambiguity is the enemy of understanding. Fairness is not necessarily equality, but it must be well-known and communicated with crystal clarity to be truly fair for all involved.
Recently I read an essay by Juan Williams (not exactly a Tea Party guy) regarding a cabal of leftist university radicals who want to bully Dr. Condoleeza Rice into not appearing as commencement speaker at Rutgers. Never mind that she is far, far, far more accomplished in just about every way, and far more representative of the American Dream, than any of these intolerant, insular, ivory-tower lemmings of the left-wing mutual admiration club who sit there bereft of real-world American experience.
Rightfully, Williams supports Condi and opposes the leftists in this one. He states: “Before her commencement speech, I would like to see any of one of the members of faculty council debate Secretary Rice on foreign policy and then let their students see how well their professors’ critique holds up. Hell, how about we invite the entire faculty council to take their best shot at Secretary Rice in a debate.” Oh yeah…
You bet your backside I’d love to see that! The intellectual arse-whipping she could deliver to these pinheaded professors–slicing, dicing and Ricing them every which way, all while perfectly at ease and with her typically plainspoken yet deeply insightful delivery…I’m practically foaming at the possibilities. I suspect part of the angst is that they’re just intimidated by her–or more precisely, the ideas and understanding that she represents and elucidates so expertly.
Another, bigger truth behind these protests boils down to something else Williams states with his typical bluntness: “I am not a conservative but I have spoken out for years against the staggering amount of blind hatred directed at black conservatives by liberals.” Jackpot! The daylight shines on the problem right there.
The headline, asks, “Why do liberals have so much hate for black conservatives?” I know the answer–because they and other increasingly well-known racial-minority conservatives (e.g., Hispanics like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) are highly intelligent, achievement-oriented, independent thinkers who don’t tow the leftist company line. By their life examples, these thinkers resoundingly discredit the leftists’ stereotypes of how they should act and believe a certain way, based on their skin color. They’re not blindly following the talking points of patronizing ideological dogma dictated to them as mandatory by the so-called “progressives”.
Contrary to the spin they want you to buy, leftists value independent thinking as long as it’s not independent from their own. A white male conservative (especially if Christian) is easily and stereotypically dismissed: old fuddy-duddy, out of touch, product of a bygone era, past his expiration date, on the wrong side of history, homophobe, god-idiot, wingnut, tea-bagger, and other empty-headed pejorative concoctions that reveal their own shameless hate and bigotry.
An outspoken, white, female conservative, such as Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, etc., simply cannot be allowed the tiniest crumb of credit in their minds. She is slapped with the label of bimbo, bitch, kept-woman, or any number of other misogynist catcalls that play to the stereotype that a lady can’t be pretty and intelligent at the same time (or horror of horrors–pretty, intelligent and conservative at the same time). Leftist sexism, unfortunately, is alive and well across America today! Most ironically and hypocritically, self-proclaimed feminists often are at the very head of that hate line.
Yet it seems the left’s greatest vitriol is reserved for the minority conservative–especially if he or she is black. Why? To me, it is blindingly obvious: a palpable aura of plantation racism–yes, racism–lurks behind the leftist message that says, “You, as a minority, have to think like us to be intelligent, to be legitimate, to be a credible activist.” A black-female conservative? The very concept doesn’t register with leftists, as if her very existence is impossible; their synapses suffer “!DIV/0″ errors and the best they can do is shout “Uncle Tom! Wait, she’s a she…Aunt Tom! Wait, that doesn’t work…Aunt Tomette…wait, that’s lame too…like, you know, uh…what do we do?”
I have an answer to that question too: shut up and listen. When such a conservative speaks, her message is authentic, meaningful, and represents a real phenomenon that soon will roar forth at the forefront of American sociopolitics. In the meantime…enough! I call on leftists to stop this coded (and sometimes uncoded) racism and sexism of minority and female conservatives. Of course, many won’t, and as a result, the “wrong side of history” label they love to wield will end up stuck on their own backs like a giant “KICK ME” sign. Hey leftists: how will it feel to be on the receiving end, to get a dose of your own medicine? Can you take it as well as you dish it out?
As for me: I stand by Condi Rice! I stand by Dr. Ben Carson! I stand by Colonel Allen West! I stand by JC Watts! I stand by Mia Love! I stand by TW Shannon! I stand by Dr. Carol Swain! I stand by Tim Scott! I stand by Clarence Thomas! I stand by Thomas Sowell! I wholeheartedly support all of these and others, because many rose from impoverished backgrounds (as I can relate). As such, they truly understand (instead of just paying lip service to) the meaning of virtues such as thrift, work ethic, self-sufficiency, honor, patriotism, wholesome family values, service to God and country, the nobility of fatherhood, avoiding the addiction of governmental dependency, and building/rebuilding America from the bottom up with minimal involvement from distant, faceless, ignorant Washington bureaucrats.
I’m proud that these men and women are fellow conservatives. I look defiantly, eye to eye with steely determination, directly in the face of naysayers, while reminding them that I care not a bit what the “progressives” think of me as a result of the conservative ideals we represent. I’ve picked my side of this argument, long ago, and there is no looking back. Instead…onward with the most truly progressive solution: conservatism. As I did physically on the playground, I refuse to be pushed around ideologically. Test me if you dare.
We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.
— C.S. Lewis