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catholic upbringing
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What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?
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What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?

I have dim memories of my Catholic upbringing, so pardon any errors in my recounting of certain parables. I remember one story about Jesus seeing a bunch of guys standing around a pit into which an ox had fallen. These guys had a problem—they could all get together and extricate the beast, but it was Sunday and the rule was ‘rest on the sabbath’. And Jesus said to them, “Don’t be an idiot, go to work and save the ox.” And I’m pretty sure he wound things up with something along the lines of ‘God doesn’t want you to act stupid’.

In another story, these wise-guys are trying to stump Jesus and they ask him, “Should we pay our taxes and show loyalty to our emperor, or should we only show loyalty to God?” And J.C.’s famous response was, “Render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar’s, and unto God that which is God’s.” You see, their government minted the coins—it was their government’s money to begin with—so giving some back was no big deal. Again, in a nutshell, Jesus was saying, “Don’t be an idiot—and if you must, please don’t do it in God’s name!”

And this, to me, is what makes Christianity almost sensible. Because it is the first religion to make the point that the customs and traditions of a faith are not the essence of that faith. When Jesus stopped the mob that was to stone Magdalena, he said, “What makes you people so perfect?—we both know that your rage and spite is partly due to your knowing that you, too, have given offense a few times in your life—don’t pawn it off on this one scape-goat.”

And with that, we had the first religion that codified a preference for sensible behavior over strict dogma. Forgiveness is the central theme of Christianity—that’s where all that ‘love thy neighbor’ stuff comes from—Christians are meant to understand that anger and hatred are counter-productive, to say the least.

And that is why, although I am no longer a Catholic, or even a theist, I get angry on Christianity’s behalf when the Yo-yos on the far fringes start setting their doctrinal beliefs up against science. This insistence on the fairy tale, as told in Genesis, about the creation of the Universe and the creation of humanity—in opposition to Darwin’s theory of selective evolution—is about as un-Christian as a person can get. WWJD? I think he’d laugh in their faces and shake his head.

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