Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mrs. Noah of Arc?

Only 40 percent of Americans can name more than four of the Ten Commandments, and a scant half can cite any of the four authors of the Gospels. Twelve percent believe Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. This failure to recall the specifics of our Christian heritage may be further evidence of our nation’s educational decline, but it probably doesn’t matter all that much in spiritual or political terms. Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.” That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin’s wisdom not biblical; it’s counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor...

That’s what America is: a place saturated in Christian identity.

But is it Christian? This is not a matter of angels dancing on the heads of pins. Christ was pretty specific about what he had in mind for his followers. What if we chose some simple criterion—say, giving aid to the poorest people—as a reasonable proxy for Christian behavior? After all, in the days before his crucifixion, when Jesus summed up his message for his disciples, he said the way you could tell the righteous from the damned was by whether they’d fed the hungry, slaked the thirsty, clothed the naked, welcomed the stranger, and visited the prisoner. What would we find then?

From The Christian Paradox: How a faithful nation gets Jesus wrong, by Bill McKibben, in the August Harper's.


RC666 said...

Hell I could name 5 of the 10 commandments and I haven't heard them in at least 10 years. Funny thing is looking them up online each site had different wording. Though they had the same principle how can someone memorize it if no ones the same.

P.S. People who think that of Joan of Arc are retarded

P.S.S. After Noah and his wife survived to repopulate the earth thay had to imbreed with their kids.

Canowine said...

rc666, with the nice thoughts, as usual.

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